As I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, lately I have become a Dad. Now that Lydia is four weeks old, I thought it might be worth sitting down to type up a few reflections on my experience so far. It may be interesting to look back on, and if anyone else out there is looking forward to becoming a parent any time soon – it may be interesting to read.
I’m not going to make this long, but here are my thoughts in handy bullet-point format:
- It’s really, really hard to describe what it feels like. On Monday, the day before Lydia was born, I had a normal day at college. A few short hours later, there I was – with another little life. It’s really strange.
- Neither of us needed to worry about bonding with Lydia. In fact, it was lovely to watch Mrs Phil (who was a bit worried about it beforehand) being given the baby for the first time and immediately being a loving mother. I’m not really a “baby person”, if that makes sense, but I think Lydia is the most gorgeous little girl I’ve ever seen.
- The only thing anyone ever talks about beforehand (in my experience, at least) is all the hard bits: sleepless nights, nappy changes, crying, that sort of thing. I think we’ve been lucky with Lydia, but as yet we’ve had things pretty easy. The first two weeks were probably the hardest sleep-wise: she usually didn’t settle in her moses basket and would only go to sleep if someone was holding her. Also, babies are born nocturnal (or something like that) and so are usually more wakeful at night. Fortunately, Mrs Phil’s Mum was staying with us for the first week so and could take Lydia at night (with three of us, we all managed to get some sleep in turn). But things improved gradually: at first she would be happy to sleep in our bed with us, then in her moses basket. Now she’s getting into more of a rhythm. Mrs Phil has it worse at the moment because she’s breastfeeding and so needs to be up more during the night, but I don’t think it’s as apocalyptically bad as I was led to believe (plus – naps are invaluable!)
- Speaking of sleep, I’ve been reading up a little bit about sleep training on the internet lately. One thing I’ve found is that there is a huge amount of conflicting advice out there. Even from among the experts. It’s worth remembering that every baby is an individual: babies are not machines who are programmed to do things at certain times. They are born with personalities… anecdotally, plenty of people have told me how their children were all different e.g. one sleeping through the night at an early age, one not sleeping very much at all for months etc. Take any advice you receive with a pinch of salt.
- The strangest thing about all this? How normal it’s seemed. I think I was worried about having a little person coming into our house, how disruptive it would all be (very self-centred, I know…) But what I’ve found is, we’ve just had to get on with it – when you have a baby to look after you have to do what you have to do. We’ve had a lot of help from various sources (thanks to family, friends, college and church) but at the end of the day we’ve survived.
All in all, being a parent is an amazing feeling. It has its ups and downs, but it’s worth it. And we’re surviving. I hope that, reading this, if you’re in a similar situation to our situation a few weeks ago this is an encouragement!