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DADult Life | April 23, 2018

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50 days of fatherhood: 50 fast thoughts from a first-time father

First-time father thoughts

As of Thursday 20th July, I’ve held the title of dad for exactly 50 days!

Much of that time has been spent in a sleep-deprived state and although I’m still learning from my daughter Roma on a daily basis, I’ve made countless realisations along the way.

This 50-day milestone was significant to me in particular, as it was with 50 days of pregnancy to go that I really started counting down to the due date with pictures to look back on, taking one of Jenna and I every ten days.

And how could I pass on a headline with such electrifying alliteration? 50 fast thoughts from a first-time father – yeah, I’ve got bars.

You’ll very quickly realise that I literally wrote the first thing that popped into my mind for this list, so here are my personal reflections on what’s taken place so far and how other dads (and mums) may be able to relate.

(1) Childbirth – It stands to reason that mum may be frightened about the birth, but dads are entitled to have worries too; just don’t let them consume you.

(2) Faith – Despite any concerns you may have, believe in yourself, do your homework and you’ll be fine.

(3) Planning – Things won’t necessarily go like clockwork, so be open to changes. Our birthing plan deviated but everything turned out okay.

(4) Fire – The labour ward is like an oven. I should have packed flip flops to match my shorts.

 

The full story: The birth of our daughter – a viewpoint from a first-time dad

 

(5) Freedom – Being discharged from hospital gave me more relief than Frodo Baggins after the One Ring had been destroyed in the fires of Mordor.

(6) L Plates – The drive home will make you feel like you’re on your first driving lesson. What’s the clutch for again?

(7) Home, sweet home – Nothing but overwhelming satisfaction after getting through your front door with your baby; even more so than clocking off of work for a boozy bank holiday weekend.

(8) Shock – Once the birth is over, things can still go off track. We were kept in overnight for observation and had to return to the hospital 24 hours after being discharged.

 

The full story: 48 hours of uncertainty that revolved around poo

 

(9) Adventure – Some people stay indoors for days on end, nervous to leave home with their new baby. That didn’t cross my mind. We wanted to make the most of my paternity leave and within the first fortnight we’d already had a road trip to Southend – which Roma slept through, obviously.

(10) Confusion – You may think time travel is the work of science fiction. After childbirth you will not. We once sat down to have a full-on dinner at midnight because we were starving after being in the hospital for hours and lost track of time.

(11) Fact – Changing nappies really isn’t that bad. *

(12) Warning – * Unless you encounter a poozooka, in which case you’ll wonder what you did to deserve such treachery.

(13) Pat leave – Paternity leave ends far too quickly and you’ll probably feel resentful at the government the world for offering such a paltry amount of time off with your new child.

(14) More pat leave – Seriously though, up to two weeks of leave to spend with your new child?! WTF.

(15) I spy – You’ll do a lot of staring at baby, even when they’re asleep, wondering how something so perfect could have come into your life.

(16) Cameraman – Buy a memory card because you’ll take plenty of photos. This will allow you to stare even when you’re not with your baby. You know, because you’ll be back at work after a fortnight of paternity leave.

(17) Little things – It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll enjoy it. Even if it’s changing a nappy, making a bottle or watching them wriggle in their sleep, they’re all invaluable memories in the beginning.

(18) Visitors – People will want to visit to see the new bundle of joy. If you’re tired and it’s inconvenient, be honest. They’ll understand. And if they don’t and cause you agg, you can always stuff a used nappy through their letterbox.

(19) Confidence – No matter how self-aware you are, that will go out the window when your baby is involved. You’ll sing, dance and perform in public for them like nobody’s watching.

(20) The public – And if they are watching on, invading your bubble and judging, you can always stuff a used nappy into their pocket.

(21) Open-minded – You’ll experience entirely new things. I don’t mean the nappy changes. I watched Love Island for the first time – something I was totally against last year – as it started while I was on pat leave. It’s changed my life almost as much as fatherhood.

(22) Teamwork – No matter how close you and mum are before the birth, the arrival of your baby will make you even more of a team than you were before.

(23) Family unit – I’ve felt a magnetic pull to be with my new family, with many other things falling to the wayside. I’ve only been cinema twice since Roma was born – pre-child I was known for doing two films in a row. Cineworld is gradually making money back on my Unlimited card.

(24) Protective – If you have a daughter, you’ll make very advanced plans for the future. I know I have.

Evening fella. Would you like me to take down your final words? 📝 #DADultLife

A post shared by Zen | DADultLife.com (@dadultlife) on

(25) Dad bod – I always wondered where the term “dad bod” comes from and how people arrive there. I don’t wonder any more. With midnight meals and family bonding time – over snacks, of course – it’s quite easy to pack on the pounds.

(26) The past – Very quickly, life before fatherhood will become hazy as it will feel like your child has always been around.

(27) Stress – When the tiredness really gets to you, you may find stress seeping in. Take a deep breath, look into that little gummy face and carry on. And it’s okay to ask for help.

(28) Support – Your missus may well try to take on the world singlehandedly – remind her, repeatedly, that she isn’t alone and offer help.

(29) Rest – I’ve touched on the lack of sleep, but, as unpleasant as it can be, you’ll quickly find you adapt to leaving your eight hours behind – unless your baby sleeps through the night, in which case, please tell me how.

(30) Tricky – Just when you think you’ve got sleeping through the night sussed, you have not. Baby is playing mind games.

(31) Expense – In my opinion, nappies are not overly expensive. I heard about the supposedly outrageous costs, but a pack of 24 newborn nappies can be bought from Aldi or Lidl for little over a quid.

(32) Outdoors – There is a limit to the activities you can do with a newborn or indeed during pregnancy. When Jenna was pregnant, long walks became our thing, which is a routine we’ve carried on now Roma has arrived.

(33) Travel – Just because Roma won’t remember (or even open her eyes for) the trips we’ve been on, it’s a great chance for Jenna and I to make memories. Embrace the time together.

(34) Strangers – You’ll find yourself chatting to randoms on the street, answering the “how old?”, “what’s their name” and so on; enjoy it. People aren’t that bad after all.

(35) Patience – I’ll be honest and say younger me probably would have scowled had a shrieking baby been wailing in my ear. Pregnancy taught me to brace for it, and fatherhood has taught me to empathise.

(36) Limited patience – The tolerance I’ve just spoken of does not cross over to non-parents. If you’re dawdling for no good reason during rush hour on the train, expect me to fire a hefty sigh in your direction.

(37) Q&A – For every person that shows no interest in your offspring, two more who want details will replace them. Get those photos on your memory card ready for show and tell.

(38) Passion – My day job is to write, but sharing my experiences as a parent, connecting with likeminded people, has been a real breath of fresh air.

(39) Community – There’s an incredible community of parents out there on social media, most of which are only too happy to listen and share stories with each other.

(40) Hero – Pregnancy made me look at Jenna in a new light, as a precious gem that had to be protected at all costs. After giving birth, she’s even more of an inspirational treasure than before.

(41) Advice – Everyone will have advice for you – some good, some bad, and some unwelcome. It’s up to you what you choose to do with it.

(42) Hospital food – Oh yeah, about the overnight ward. Dads don’t get beds, okay, but no food? Cool, I’ll just guzzle these salt and vinegar Pringles for dinner, breakfast and lunch.

(43) Fitness – My gym routine has well and truly fallen over since discovering about the pregnancy, let alone since Roma was born. BUT, I’ve discovered the joys of pram running – if the magnetic pull I mentioned (number 23) is too strong, take the little one out for a spin.

(44) Music – Roma seems to have a penchant for Will Smith beats – specifically, Summertime. I played it to her when she was a few days old, and rapping along to it usually calms her down.

(45) Skin-to-skin – The form of bonding is an incredible feeling; it’s not just mums that can do it, dads can too. Having done it the moment she was born, it takes me right back to that first hold.


(46) Big kid – You get a second chance at being a child. She’s already proven she loves dressing up as a superhero, so the minute she can support her own head, we’ll go fight some crime. Jenna will be thrilled.

(47) Selfless – Your needs get put on hold. Roma’s due date was 5th June and my 30th birthday was a couple of weeks after, but I didn’t really put any thought into what I’d do for it. Turns out Jenna, the conspirator, had been on a Secret Squirrel mission for months on end so I got not one, but two celebrations.

(48) Punctuality – Leaving the house on time with a baby? You may as well smash your watch collection now.

(49) Feels – Before Roma was born it felt like I was a child counting down to Christmas. Now imagine waking up to Christmas each day as a wide-eyed eight-year-old; that’s fatherhood for me.

(50) The road ahead – It takes a while for fatherhood to sink in. Even now, I often look at Roma and I’m amazed that she’s a living, breathing piece of me. And whether she’s farting, crying or smiling, I’m filled with pride that she’s mine and I’m hers.

Comments

  1. Shanade

    I’m not expecting nor am I a mum to a toddler however I did watch Jenna grow as we go to the same gym and seeing her Facebook posts feels like watching you both from the outside going on a journey. Your article is incredible, powerful and so beautiful. I had my girls in Africa and back then it was a woman’s role to see to the kids, it’s fantastic to see how times have changed and how this generation of dads has embraced this beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing your experience, no doubt you’ll savour every moment. You have. A gorgeous family.

    • Zen Terrelonge

      Thank you very much Shanade, really kind words! Wow, you’re right there, things have definitely changed. It really is incredible how parenthood differs so drastically over time, in different countries and even across households, but for me I always knew I’d want to take a hands-on role and be as involved as possible! Thanks for taking the time to read the piece and leave a comment, it’s really appreciated.

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