Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Becoming a Father: One Year On - Part 3

This is the third part of my retrospective on my first year as a new father. To view all the parts, please click on one of the links below:

Part 1 - The Beginning
Part 2 - The First Two Weeks
Part 4 - The Accident

This post focuses on...

Getting the Hang of Things

Once I became more accustomed to waking up several times in the night followed by waking up early in the morning to go to work each day, I came to realise that things do tend to settle into a routine (almost). My wife and I learned many things about our son in the first 6 months:

  1. He liked to be on the go all the time, he simply did not like sitting still much. This resulted in me usually having to administer some kind of silly walk whilst carrying him so he felt the exaggerated movement and which kept him happy. Although after 30 seconds of this around the living room my leg muscles would be screaming at me to stop.
  2. He also didn't think much of napping during the day. Whilst other parents might boast that their little angel would have a 1 - 2 hour nap in the afternoon, we were forced to endure almost a whole day of feeling exhausted and looking after him since he would sleep for at most 30 minutes at a time (with usually a 4 - 5 hour gap inbetween).
  3. The flip-side of not napping during the day though was that he at least seemed to understand the day-night cycle and would sleep longer and better during the night. My wife and I started off going to bed at around 8pm for at least 3 months because we simply couldn't stay awake any longer!
  4. He was heavy and I was weak. When he was born he weighed 8lb 11oz - which for those not in the know is fairly large - and he pretty much worked his way up to the 91st percentile of his baby contemporaries and was generally the largest of all his baby friends. I am not a physically strong person and having to carry him around started to get very draining, though I eventually got more used to it - perhaps it could have been considered as weight training for me!
  5. My wife tried feeding him expressed milk as breastfeeding did not go well but eventually he started to drink more and more formula milk to the point where he could, after a few months, drink almost an entire bottle of it every 3 hours. That could explain the weight gain...
  6. He got to a point 3 months in where he slept pretty much through the night - the holy grail of parenting! But then, at 4 months, he switched things around a bit and did the dreaded sleep regression. Why babies apparently do this I do not know. I was having dinner with some friends and boasting about how he slept through the night now at such a young age when I got a text message from my wife telling me that he started waking up at night; that was the night when he started waking up several times a night for the next few months. I resolved from then on to never discuss his sleeping habits with anyone other than my wife lest I somehow jinx everything.
  7. Most importantly though was that we could start to see that he had a personality. It is hard to describe in writing but there were little things he did that you could just tell were a part of him.

The Daily Routine

I found it incredibly helpful that a daily routine seemed to materialise over time - I am a programmer after all! My wife and I both agreed that I would do the (very) early morning feed as once I'm awake I tend to stay awake; I'm a very light sleeper. 

Once that was done and everyone was still asleep I could get to my morning chores which started about 6am. These involved having a shower and breakfast for me of course but also cleaning up all the milk bottles, getting the bottle steriliser ready and boiling water for his formula milk for the day. If I had time I'd also prepare his reusable nappies after they had been washed and dried. 

At about 7:30am I would go wake up my wife so she could have a shower before I went to work and I would look after the boy in the meantime. We decided that my wife would get as much rest as possible and not the other way around since she would be the one spending all day with him on the go - remember, he didn't like napping. She basically needed as much rest as possible whereas, despite me having to do a full day's work too, at least I would be sitting down for most of it and downing cups of tea through the day.

Once I got home from work I would take over from my wife and give him his bath and get him ready for bed. In the first month that tended to be quite late as he was still getting used to a regular bedtime so that meant I had to learn how to hold him in one arm whilst I ate my dinner with the other. Eventually though I was responsible for putting him to bed by giving him his bedtime bottle, burping him and letting him fall asleep on my shoulder before putting him in his moses basket.

Here's a little secret I'll let you in on: whilst letting him fall asleep on me I spent many a night playing through Angry Birds on my phone. I actually got quite far through the game in this fashion!

"What dear? No, I'm putting our son to bed, what did you think I was doing?"
Image courtesy of Echo Enduring Blog (

It Does Get Better

My last post may have left you thinking that raising a child is a hellish experience, and initially it is incredibly demanding. It still is but as 6 months roll on you realise that you can deal with things better now, that he also grows up more and changes with you and somehow you both meet in the middle to end up having fun together.

He seems a lot happier now :)

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