I’ve been a dad for a month now, and as the amount of time she spends sleeping decreases the novelty is wearing off.
When our daughter was slowly making her way into the world we went to hospital at 6 o’clock on the Friday morning. We met six different midwives and did the puzzles in two different magazines but still nothing had happened by 11 o’clock that night so they used a drip to bring on contractions. But that still didn’t work, and by 4am they decided that the baby’s heart rate was dropping so they needed to do a Caesarean.
So I got dressed up in a set of surgical scrubs (the waist of the trousers was a bit too small) and a hair net (not sure this was really necessary, or even if it should be called a ‘hair’ net in my case) and waited next to the resuscitation machine in the foyer until they were ready to let me in. The local anaesthetic didn’t work so they had to use general anaesthetic, which meant that I wasn’t allowed in theatre.
I was sent down to a waiting room where there were only two magazines to take my mind off it – one had an interview with Fatima Whitbread after she came out of the I’m a Celebrity jungle and a story about Mariah Carey losing weight, the other was even more boring than that.
Then a nurse came, said “Hello Dad” and took me down to meet my daughter. When she was born she had a problem breathing – because there was fluid in her lungs which gets squeezed out during normal delivery – and she needed tests to see if she was OK as it had been so long since the waters broke so they had to take her away to the neo-natal ward.
After another two hours of waiting, pacing around and staring out of the window I was allowed to see Emma. Then I was told it was OK to go up to the neo-natal ward.
She was in the ward with all the premature babies, and as she was 8 days overdue she looked like a monster-child that could eat her room-mates for breakfast. The nurse told me that it was Ok for me to pick her, but having never held a baby before, I just looked at her with panic in my eyes and she helped me lift her out of the crib thing. So I held her while the nurse took a photo of us, cutting my head off in the picture, and got one of her colleagues to take a second one. Then a doctor came to look at her and asked me to put her back in the crib but with her head the opposite end to where it needed to be for me to put it down. I looked at him, looked at crib, looked at the baby then looked at him again. He said “this is your first baby isn’t it?” and took her off me.
Later on the Saturday they were transferred to the mother and baby ward for monitoring. There were lots of midwifes and nurses there to help with all our questions like “How the hell do I feed her?”, “Arrgh, she’s being sick, what do I do?” and “He arms won’t bend, how do I dress her without hurting her?”
My parents and gran came down on the Sunday. They arrived well before visiting time so we were waving at them through the window. My baby took one look at my gran’s ageing face and instantly did her first poo. Which I had to clean. It was black and sticky.
We were allowed home the next day. The first middle of the night bout of screaming came as a bit of a shock and making up a feed in the early of hours of the morning while there’s a baby screaming is unnecessarily difficult.
We’ve got used to making feeds now, and learnt how to collapse and put-up the pushchair. Now we need just need to learn how to stop her crying.
When my parents and gran came down again she pooed as soon as my gran started holding her. The faces of the elderly, it seems, are a good cure for baby constipation. The poo is yellow and runny now.
She’s started sleeping through most of the night (10:30pm to 5am last night). She’s also started following things with her eyes now. Its’ like having one of those paintings where the eyes follow you round a room. Only the painting screams. And poos.
She’s going to be celebrating being one month old by watching us eat pancakes this evening.