I mentioned at the start of my most recent post that I would become a dad shortly after my visit to Dortmund. My daddom arrived about at quarter to eleven at night on Friday 6 July this year when James, all 8lb 11 oz of him, bounced into the world.
Since then, the learning curve has been very steep and the emotions have been a bit all over the place. Mostly, I have to say, at the ridiculously happy/loving the challenge end of the spectrum. The first three weeks (I took the traditional fortnight of paternity leave plus a week of annual leave) of James’s life I was there with my wife, seeing every moment of his ridiculously quick development, other than when I went to Aldi for more food and nappies.
Week 4 was then pretty weird as I returned to work but I have slowly got used to that too. Now I see James pretty much all day at the weekend, but only from 5ish pm onwards on weekdays. I do feel a tiny bit jealous of the fact my wife gets to spend so much more time with him, but then at the same time work has almost become respite, or at least a change of scenery from nappies, shushing, singing songs, trying my absolute hardest to get a smile or a laugh out of James, or to comfort him when he’s a bit fussy/gurny/sleepy.
I also appreciate how ridiculously lucky I am to have him. Now at nearly 4 months old, he is a beautiful, smiley treasure of a young fellow, who while he can be challenging can also make our day/week with a smile or some other new development, or trying on a new outfit. We’ve also enrolled him in baby swimming classes – to watch his progress with him in the pool, particularly over the last couple of weeks, has been an absolute joy.
His birth has also, I think, given his grandparents on both sides a new lease of life. I’ve seen a lot of my folks even though they live a 3 hour car journey away – similarly we’ve seen a lot of Clare’s folks and her sister on their travels from Glasgow. I’m also in the even more lucky position of having 3 of 4 grandparents still here – all in their 80s but all still looking well and handling what life has to throw at them. It’s been wonderful to see too what effect James has on them – whether it’s my granny reusing skills she last used in the late 1960s, or either grandad and the lift in mood I can visibly see in them when James is nearby. I say again – he is hard work, but then I always hear people say that nothing good in life is ever gained easily.
For all the aspiring or expecting parents out there, I thought it might be useful to draw together a random list of thoughts and observations on early fatherhood, in the hope that these prove helpful for at least one person. I’ll probably add to these as they come to me, and will maybe post further updates on the parental adventure as it develops.
Assorted Thoughts on Fatherhood
1. The ante natal classes prepare you for about 2% of what’s to actually come.
Clare and I did NCT ante natal classes, over a weekend in Edinburgh. I did pick up a couple of tips – for example it was nice to practise putting on babygros and the like, though the doll didn’t stick its knees in the air the entire time. But quite a lot of it was fairly meaningless – the “birth prep” of practising massage and pushing techniques went out of the window at 4:30 on the morning of James’s birth, when it became clear that Clare would have a far more complicated and unpleasant labour experience than had been envisaged in the utopian ante natal class world. One great thing that has come out of the classes though is a network of people all in the same position as us – that mutual reassurance has been invaluable to me and particularly to Clare. But that’s about all it was good for.
2. Reactivate your Amazon Prime account
If like me you felt three streaming services was one too many, and there weren’t enough deliveries to justify paying £80 a year for free next day ones, you may have in the past chosen to cancel your Amazon Prime subscription, and instead spend the money on an extra few coffees a month, or maybe a record player.
When young Mr Donaldson came along, and we realised we needed to buy a lot more clothes, muslins, wipes and nappy cream very quickly, the Prime account was back in force quicker than you could say “Bezos loss leader”. Since his birth we’ve had nigh on daily deliveries of various things, all of them vital, and that £79 has paid for itself with quick, free delivery. And Jack Ryan.
3. Lifecake Lifecake Lifecake
Finally, a brief mention for Lifecake, an app one of my colleagues suggested. It’s great as it creates a wee private network you can upload pics to, without sending them to 17 different WhatsApp groups. And it keeps people who are perhaps slightly more remote from one’s child up to date with progress very easily. At some point the space will fill up with photos and I’ll have to start giving them (it’s run by Canon) money – but for now it’s a great and easy way for my folks to keep up with James’s antics.
I’ll maybe put down some more assorted thoughts in a week or three.