Entries tagged as fatherhood
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Friday, November 4. 2011
Over on ask.mefi I threw together some random thoughts on the first bits of being a Dad; I wanted to capture them here, too:
My wife’s best friend from high school was a support person during the delivery. It worked really well - we’re not best buds, but we get along well, and having someone there who could go get wheat packs or cups of water or whatever, or stay with my wife if I needed a toilet break or food, was absolutely fantastic. It has to be the right person, but if you can swing someone both of you are happy with, it makes it heaps easier. The fact she’s a professional photographer so she could take happy snaps of the new family was just a bonus.
Having some snacks for the labour? Sounds wierd, I know, but it was great when some friends dropped by to deliver some eats. 27 hours of labour, well, my wife wasn’t exactly in an eating mood, but something to keep my blood suger up was welcome.
My daughter was 3220g on delivery. It’s one of those things that the experience etched in my mind. It’s the sort of thing that’ll go after everything else. It’s that kind of experience.
The weirdest thing was that after 27 hours of labour and an early morning delivery, people looked at my wife, looked at me, and the general consensus was I looked worse than her. A little odd, you know?
Job 1 pretty much became managing access. Everyone wants to come and play with the baby and Talk About The Experience. If your partner likes that, great. If, more likely, she wants some rest, some time with her baby, and some time with you, well, you need to fend folks off. Relatives with a sense of entitlement are the worst on that front...
The first month or so is a bit of a blur, but mostly a good blur. I discovered that the single most relaxing, blissful, magical sleep in the world is the sleep of a dad with a baby sleeping on him. She’d flop down, face-first, head resting on my neck, and I’d be gone within minutes, no matter how hard I tried to sleep. Sleep when the baby sleeps, indeed.
I took 5 weeks off work (unpaid, since I’m a contractor), and wish I could have afforded more. It was precious bonding time with my daughter, support for my wife. I cried leaving the house most morning when I had to start going back to work. I felt like I was tearing my heart out every morning. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done emotionally.
Don’t be surprised by the sheer contempt often demonstrated to fathers. For my daughter’s second round of immunisation jabs a nurse snatched her out of my arms to “comfort her properly.” Don’t be shy about getting angry at that crap. I had her sacked from the medical clinic our family uses.
That shitty situation was merely a high point on a mountain of subtle through to overbearing unpleasantness: my daughter was going to carry her mother’s surname, but (unprompted by me), Maire was so ticked off at the hospital’s generic treatment of dads that when she was given the naming forms, Ada ended up with my surname instead.
Make a connection. I’ve got little greater contempt for the idea, repeated to me a few times, that an infant is “mothers’ business” and she should be making all the calls, and experience, not only of my own, but of friends and the advice of midwives and Plunket nurses, reinforces that contempt.
Handling babies is a skill, and the earlier you get comfortable dressing, changing, burping, comforting, and generally interacting and looking after your kid, the better you’ll be at it; that’s one reason, but it’s the mid to long term that’s really important: I know guys who spent the first 6 - 12 months with little to do with the baby, and they spiral into a sort of vicious circle where mum does everything because dad is hopeless and dad is hopeless because he never gets left to cope and learn, and they’ve subsequently spent literally years learning how to connect with their kids.
And the mothers... they burn out. My wife flirted with post-partum depression, and the first thing her Plunket nurse wanted from her was a run-down of who did what around the house and with the kid. I was at work for the conversation, but the nurse, who specialised in these situations, told my wife that when there’s an overload contributing to driving a mother into “baby blues”, half the time she has to give the dad a bollocking to get him pulling his weight, and the other half she has to drill into the mother that she has to let other people look after the kid sometimes. And yes, that means dad. Get into healthy patterns from the start.
On top of that... you’re going to be making decisions about your child together for the best part of two decades. Get in the habit early on.
House-proud? Get over it. You have a baby, if people don’t like that you can’t be arsed putting laundry away, fuck ‘em.
Comforting babies: I often had an easier time of it than my wife. It’s common talking to a few other parents, as well; we put it down to the fact that small babies can’t really tell if they’re upset because they’re hungry, tired, sitting in their own shit, or have wind, or just need a cuddle. But when they smell that breast milk, well, they’re upset, the boobs are there - that must be the answer! Then they get agitated about not getting a mouthful of tit, even if that’s not going to help. Since Daddy doesn’t smell of milk, little Miss 1 month old went along with, say, laying on me until we both went to sleep.
Try and fall into a routine that gives mum some breaks. I’m an early riser, so I’d get up at 6, take Ada away, get her out of her night gear, changed, into fresh clothes, ready for the first feed, make breakfast for my wife, and then get ready for work. Getting home I’d take Ada, play, snuggle, whatever. My wife’s evening bath would be sacrosanct: unless the baby actually started squirting blood or something, I was on my own for 30 - 60 minutes. Small things, all of them, but part of trying to keep everyone sane and happy.
The first 3 months Ada was pretty low-maintenance, for me; adore her, change her, dress her, play, what have you. Tiny babies are, food and wakefulness aside, generally pretty easygoing. Around 6 months it felt like one of those hockey-stick graphs. “Sleeping on daddy’s knee while he argues on the Internet” was cool at 2 months, but a six month old needs way more active attention. Don’t be surprised if you have a storm, a lull, and then start getting really busy again.
Saturday, December 25. 2010
High points of Christmas:
The Vivitar camera doesn’t fucking talk to Windows 7, or Windows XP, or Linux. So Ada’s 15 Christmas photos are lost. Off to Dick Smith’s tomorrow to roundly abuse them for selling the product that ruined my Christmas evening. And then buy her a non-Vivitar camera, because not only does the camera not work, their site has no driver downloads, manuals, or information about any of their products. Fuck Vivitar.
Saturday, July 10. 2010
Ada veut faire du foot. Je ne sais pas; mais toute façon papa, je aide.
Aujourd’hui nous faisons du coursé; nous sommes rentré avec protege-tibia et beaucoup petit les chaussures de football.
Sunday, March 28. 2010
The Wellington Aero Club had an open day on Saturday. For a little girl who spent happy hours poking around racing cars in Te Papa a few months ago who likes to go to the airport to watch the planes, and her daddy, this seems pretty much like a heaven-sent afternoon, and that’s how it turned out.
As well as the pictured cockpit sessions in the pictured CT-4E and CJ6 Nanchang, Ada got chances to hop into the pilot’s seat of a Sounds Air Cessna Caravan, although we missed out on the Trojan when the owner needed a bio break.
While I attempted to explain the Trojan and Corsair’s features for aircraft carriers—the Corsair had it’s wings up—I don’t think Ada really grasped the idea of planes that land and take off boats.
The only real disappointments of the day were the tiny two-seat plane, whose owners shut up shop just as we arrived to have a look (I suspect Ada may have been so wedded to it because it looked, well, child-sized), and missing out on a chance to go up for a flight in the Catalina, which had run out of seat allocations by the time I asked. She was, however, a little trooper about it; she was really upset, but avoided any kind of tantrum. I need to make it up to her with a trip on a plane when I can afford it.
One not-so-minor irk, though: a few women earlier in the day had heard my plan and suggested that the whole business was about Daddy using Ada as an excuse to do something. Yes, yes, I know it’s a standard cultural trope that men only do things with their kids to have an excuse to buy things for themselves, and that little girls can’t possibly be interested in aircraft. It’s a bullshit sexist trope, too.
Saturday, February 13. 2010
Today in kiddie French we read Animal Farm for three year olds.
The book was the story of le canard; le canard worked around the farm while the fat farmer lay in bed eating chocolates; le canard worked until he cried with exhaustion, at which point the other animals—la vache, les muttons, and a gaggle of others—stormed the house, threw the farmer from his bed, and chased him from the farm.
Then le canard returned to doing the work around the farm.
Thursday, February 4. 2010
“Daddy, when you shave you look like a woman. When mans shave, they look like women.”
I guess I’ve been wearing stubble and short beards more than I realised lately.
Ada also undertook a first today; we carefully counted out sixteen dollars of fifty cent pieces from Pig, put them in a drawstring bag, carried them into town. From there Ada went into Unity Books and chose “The Nickle-Nackle Tree” as the very first book she bought with her own money, after first considering a number of other possibilities.
She wants to commemorate this by putting her name on the receipt and keeping it somewhere safe.
 Pig is, these days, generally stuffed with small change rather than delicious pretend lemon.
Thursday, January 28. 2010
So there I am, listening to the radio, and what comes on but a creche ad for a chain of creches called “Paradise.” I’m sure it seemed like a great idea and all, but hearing repeated exhortations to “send your children to Paradise” just makes me think of cultists or baby suicide bombers.
This is not persuasive.
Sunday, January 17. 2010
Sunday, October 4. 2009
It’s the conversations I’ve never expected that throw me for a curve. How do you deal with:
Boy at birthday party: Can I share your daddy?
Or when you’re chatting to a guy at a cafe you visit often, and he asks you what you’re doing with your daughter for the weekend. You tell him, and he says, “You sound like a good father. I wish my father had been as good a father as you.”
Sunday, September 13. 2009
So, Ada loves Bob the Builder. She loves trucks and screwdrivers and the like. So you’d think that the Bob merchandise would be a slam-dunk for our household.
The problem is that most everything I’ve seen of it is poorly-made shit. Not only does this violate my general thoughts about acceptable toys (they should be tolerably well-made), but it seems to me to be a deep and fundamental betrayal of the series itself, which is, after all, about doing a job properly and minimising waste.
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