Dear new Dad...
Feelings

Words of encouragement for new dads

Father-of-two Steve Cummins has some words of encouragement for new dads.

Dear new Dad,

Seriously, how scared are you? On a scale from one to ‘Oh my God I’m not ready to be a father, I’ll drop it, or lose it, or it’ll hate me or I’ll hate it or it won’t shut up or aargh!’

I’ll assume that, if this is your first baby that you’re somewhere on the northern end of the spectrum. You’re probably more scared of this than anything in your life (except that big spider you found in the bath that time which made you squeal and run naked out of the bathroom; but that secret’s going with you to the grave), but that’s okay. It’s okay to be scared, in fact it’s downright essential.

As long as you’re scared then you’re not being your usual half-assed self and this new arrival is one thing that demands your full attention.

30 days is all it takes.

But don’t worry brother. I have some good news for you. You’re only going to be scared for 30 days. Thirty days? Hell, you could survive in the jungle or a prisoner of war camp for 30 days; if all those action movies you watch are to be believed.

From the moment you leave the hospital with your little emotional and financial burden you only need 30 days to transform yourself from neurotic amateur to cool, confident, professional dad.

Confidence grows

I’ll never forget the stress and sweat I went through bathing my son for the first time. I was sweating like a bomb disposal expert with the hiccups; terrified that this fragile slippery creature was going to shoot out of my clumsy hands and go sliding off along the bathroom floor.

After 30 days, I was flinging my baby around with all the confidence of a flair barman making cocktails for supermodels. I could change a nappy one handed while putting on The Wiggles CD with the other. I could feed, burp and change my son faster than a Formula One pit crew changes the fuzzy dice. I was an expert dad and all it took was thirty days. Mind you, those were 30 of the toughest days of my life.

Sleep deprivation is banned as a method of torture by the Geneva convention, but no one told your own wee dictator that and the UN aren’t sending any inspectors to your house any time soon. So, you’re going to be scared, tired, weary, exhausted, sleepy, wrecked, dozy and a whole thesaurus full of tiredness. But that too shall pass, as the old bible stories tell us, and you know it will. It has to. Doesn’t it?

Remember this

There is one thing to remember more than anything else however. She (your missus, not the baby) is way more tired than you. That’s just a fact. She has all the same new responsibilities as you while also recovering from growing a person for 40 weeks and however many hours spent trying to get it out. She’s sore, scarred and maybe stitched so it’s time for you to man up, call on all your action movie learned skills to get your newly grown family through that first tougher than tough month.

Get through the first 30 days and it’s downhill all the way. But for all your fear about tiredness, dropping the baby or loss of freedom and sleep; those aren’t your greatest fears are they? You only admit that one to yourself when you’re all alone. So to answer your greatest fear; Don’t worry, if you love your child more than yourself, and believe me you will, then you’re going to be a great dad. It’s just going to take 30 days for you to realise that.

More like this

Tips for new dads
How to be a stay-at-home dad
4 lessons from a new mum

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
MUST READ

ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.