I am a proud father to a daughter and a son. I am not a Doe eyed Dad with fluffy hopes and dreams living in a mirage of family bliss, instead cannon fodder on the parental battlefield bruised and misshapen by the realities Fatherdom in the modern day.
prepare your violin but I struggle to find the sweet-spot as a Dad. I’m expected to be solid as rock and dependable to Mum and a role model to the kids, yet more often than not those are not who I embody. To make it worse I can feel bypassed, a tad ignored and overlooked by the matriarchy.
How it all began
Our daughter came into this world in a sweltering summer, poor Mum spent months swollen despite soaking in all the Himalayan Salt we could find (helps reduce swelling, who knew?). The delivery was challenging, 12 hours of labour where blood pressure and an infection that meant that no one was checking dilation hence zero pain relief for Mum until the finale moments. Our daughter was born and super-Mum was toasted for the militant pain-relief free delivery. Unfortunately as the high fives and tears of joy were loving up the place the Midwife pressed the panic buzzer and a crack team of specialists called in to try stop a haemorrhage. As Mum was taken to the OR I was left with our daughter who must’ve thought who is this guy (as I didn’t do the talking to the womb thing), I reassured her to reassure me and the nurse explained what happened was not serious and it “happens”. Mum did incredibly well and we were united an hour later trying to come to terms with what happened before looking ahead to the joys of parenting.
The Early Days
Once the initial tsunami of emotion settled we were left with the practical challenges of raising a very small 6lb human. Armed with the knowledge from “What to expect when you’re expecting” and mentally geared towards breastfeeding by the world at large we were on our blissful way. Except it wasn’t blissful given the litres of blood and iron Mum lost through delivery breastfeeding wasn’t easy and the amount of heartache and stress it brought Mum was painful to see let alone experience.
I as Dad was totally helpless reduced to simply safeguarding Mum’s sanity and confidence instead trying to empower, whilst trying to ensure our Daughter was settled knowing she was at times just hungry. We had help from all kind of people from family to professionals and some Breastfeeding Gestapo who seemed to make Mum feel worse not better, even worse our Daughter would be tears through all the changes from mixed feeding to exclusive breast to more formula and it made her incredibly unsettled. The pinnacle of support came from a support group full of women who could breastfeed fine and without asking any of the background piled pressure on Mum to starve our daughter before each attacked her with their way of getting the job done, after they gave up and Mum pulled out the “dead-milk” to ghasts only then did someone ask so how was the delivery before finally taking into account the issues at hand.
In the end we battled our way through and it tested us to the limit but with mixed feeding and a Mum who soldiered on for six months we kept going.
Did it get better?
As the months progressed our daughter suffered with the magical “collic” and acid reflux. Our first six months as parents were full of agitation, desperation, trepidation, frustration, helplessness and just enough brief moments of calm and joy to keep us moving forwards. Let me be clear we loved our daughter from day one, our anguish was at our inability to keep her calm and happy 24/7.
How did I do?
As Dad it was my paramount focus to ensure both Mum and baby were happy. However it would be years later when our second was born I’d find out I wasn’t helpful but stiffing and overbearing.
I used the working from home benefit to the maximum however that made things worse as often our tempers frayed with our very different approaches, thoughts and simply dealing with things differently. I often felt a failure to them both. What Mum needed was her Mum, who is not down the road but hundreds of miles away, I made the mistake of trying to make up for that but it wasn’t what my Wife needed. I certainly could’ve done a lot better looking back in hindsight and it’s a wonder we made it through although the scars exist in our relationship today.
We did however survive and learnt alot about each other and that quite simply I needed to learn when to step in and when to trust Mum knows best. We have since survived through countless sleep regressions, sleep training, sickness (colds, flu, stomach bugs, foot and mouth, unexplained viruses), routine building, weaning, toilet training, terrible twos it goes on from there…
So there we have it, after that experience we thought couldn’t be any worse let’s play double jeopardy.
Our Son was born some three years later, the delivery was near perfect! I even managed to get a go on the gas, good sh… We had similar issues but the crack team of specialists were totally prepared to the point that Mum didn’t leave our side.
We promised each other that our paramount concern was to keep the boy happy, we weren’t going to embark on a breast-feeding expedition and if this boy wanted carrying we would do it.
Old Habbits Die Hard
The fear I had in Mum’s ability to breastfeed given the blood-loss (albeit much less this time) cast a black cloud in our first week, my fear of experiencing similar to our daughter’s early months led me to worry and plan for the worst (note. I fully supported my wife in Breastfeeding). A couple of stray words after a few days home regarding Preeya’s absolute determination to breast-feed properly this time re-opened old wounds as I leapt back into the role of keeping the ship steady on a course that butted heads with Mum instead of supporting her. After a week of soul searching for us both we came around and discussed it again only to realise we had both caught the wrong end of the stick and talked through how we could make the journey of breastfeeding a successful one this time around.
Living with two
Happy to report we’re okay and Mum is breastfeeding and with the odd top-up as the boy is an 8lbs feeding machine. So far we’ve had immense support from our daughter and as soon as paternity finished I was semi-happy to return to the office (although I miss spending time with him hugely). I have embraced the role as the supporting act focusing on our daughters social and educational schedule and keeping the house largely clean. Yes I sit back and follow the programme with our son and on occasion where the need arises I might step in and add some value on the topic of raising our children. It’s a balancing act that’s all I will say for now.
What you get here…
This blog will plot the pain points of raising two humans, inter-twined with moaning from me sprinkled with some value hopefully… I will say this if I could be a full-time Dad I would be hands-down, it’s an honour to be blessed twice. What is important to me is having my wife kicking on all cylinders and our children happy, I will slot in the middle not being part of the problems but there to support and pick them up.
Any advice from you wonderful Dad’s and Mum’s out there is alway welcome, or just share your experiences…