I expected to be some kind of sleep deprived dad-zombie, shuffling through supermarket isles in pyjamas at 3am moaning “naaappies” instead of “braaaains”. I expected to be a clueless flailing mess running through the streets with a screaming, crap-covered miniature version of myself, in a frantic search for help. I expected the “big day” to be like a harrowing scene from The Thing. I wasn’t prepared for the reality.
Don’t get me wrong, the big day, is indeed BIG…. and long… and I guess everyone’s is different. It was an experience like no other, and it conjured up a new hidden level of respect and admiration for my fiancée. It’s easy for the father to say this but the gory details blur into the background once you set eyes on that little one.
People prefer to share their horror stories because it makes for a more interesting conversation. They leave out all of the good stuff because it’s not as funny. It’s easy to forget.
I had been led to believe that the sleep deprivation would be akin to the trenches of WWI. Yes – that first night you literally do not sleep a wink because you are staring at a little creature constantly for 10 hours, watching them breathe. Over time, and in small increments you start to trust that that little creature can in fact breathe without your supervision. After a while, you find yourself getting up for the 5th time in the night to answer her calls, weary, fuse shortening, but as soon as you see those two little eyes recognise you in the darkness of a 3am December morning, all of your Cortisol instantly fades and all is well in the world. That’s the bit that I didn’t hear much about from other people.
I’m not sure that I had seen 5am many times before being a Dad. Now, everyday I’m there, tiny fingers under my eyelids or poking between my gum and tooth, or just random back slapping and dribbly, gummy nose biting… and I have to say it’s brilliant.
My daughter is nearly 10 months old now, and she is the wriggliest thing I’ve ever known. She’s ridiculously adventurous. Sometimes it seems that I spend 60% of my time saying “be careful please” in that parentish tone, knowing that she can’t understand what I’m saying at all.
I have no idea how her mother does it.