If there's one piece of advice I can offer fellow new dads, it's to go with the flow, because as soon as your first is born, the flow will come thick and fast and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
I can honestly say I was one of those soon-to-be-dads that wasn’t very nervous about becoming one. I’ve always been one of those ‘go with the flow’ sort of guys. That changed almost exactly overnight, once our little girl Mila, was born.
In the months since her arrival, my confidence has been put through the wringer on many occasions, in particular when it came to concerns over my little girl’s health and well-being.
Babies are prone to all sorts of issues as they grow and figure out their bodies and the world around them. Odds are, you will visit the hospital emergency ward at least once during your baby’s first year. More often than not it’s for your sake rather than your child’s, to put your mind at ease (you lose the head a bit when you become a dad for the first time).
The good news is, it gets easier.
In fact, right now I’m holding my little girl in my arms as she battles 39-40 degree temperatures. Two hospital trips ago we probably would’ve been on our way to the hospital by now. But at the moment, I’m feeling relatively relaxed and in control. We’ve given her some Panadol, and we’ll see how she goes.
…it’s less stressful the fourth time around.
The first time we went to the hospital was when Mila was three months old. I was holding her in my arms when she turned her head to the right and up popped a lump on her neck the size of a golf ball.
I shouted to my wife to come take a look and still remember the quiver in her voice as she uttered “Oh my God, what is that?”. It was like everything bad that could ever happen in the world happened all in that single moment. I was on the verge of tears as we strapped her into the car and rushed off to Fiona Stanley hospital.
You get so emotional on your first hospital run because every possibility, well actually all of the worst possible possibilities, hammer your mind. After a long night, an ultra-sound revealed she’d had a bunching of muscle fibres – the result of a fairly traumatic birth experience. (She’s a forceps baby following a 17 hour labour. We’re still going to physiotherapists for it, but she’s now fine.)
Round two was off the back of the first time the thermometer (of which we now have three because there’s a hundred million people on a hundred million websites telling you there’s a better one for your child) hit 39 degrees.
My wife and I again threw Mila into the car and rushed her off to Fiona Stanley after we called the national health hotline seven times and googled everything on the internet (funnily enough that was about the same time we got thermometer number two).
You should have a bag on stand-by. I’m not talking about for your child’s things, I mean for yours and your wife’s stuff, maybe a book, a spare phone charger, and some change for the coffee machine. When you visit emergency you will be there a while. This particular time we were there until 4am.
There’s nothing spectacular about having to hold your screaming daughter down while they take a blood test either so just be ready for that.
By the way she’s now fine.
Round three was when she fell off the bed, under my watch no less.
Your baby will get teeth, she will not sleep.
Your baby will get hungry during the night, she will not sleep.
Your baby will just wake up being a glow stick short of a rave party, she will not sleep!
You will get tired, because you have not slept, and because of this, will do stupid things like say “stuff it, I don’t care what they say about sleeping in the crib, just put her in bed with us”.
At this point your baby may be 10 months old and crawling and decide that the drop off the edge of the bed would be fun to jump off face first.
I woke up as I heard the ‘thud’ and knew immediately what had happened. Panic kicked in as I started saying ‘no, no, no, no’ and what made it even worse was that on her way down she’d bitten her lip so blood had started pouring out.
You start wondering if she’s broken her neck, her nose, her eye socket, her skull, her back, her hands, herself, or if her teeth will end up growing crooked now because you’re such a stupid dad, probably the worst dad going around, how could you let that happen?!
By the way, she’s now fine.
The moral of the story
You know something? I’m not a stupid dad, I’m far from the worst dad going around, I care about my child – and, if you’re reading this blog – no doubt, so do you.
As parents, we feel so guilty when something bad happens on our watch. The good news if you’re feeling like the worst dad ever, it means you’re probably a pretty damn good dad.
My daughter is 15 months, all of these things have happened and she’s still here, still breathing, still eating, still growing, still laughing, still crawling, still playing, still alive.
Things will happen, some of them your fault, some of them not, just go with the flow.
I’ve handed my daughter back to my wife who’s informed me she’s not running a fever anymore. However, she is unwell with something (else) she’s probably picked up from daycare. Hooray.
We’ll just see how she goes.
Quick hello to Fiona Stanley by the way, your staff are always so helpful and lovely to us, regardless of the fact we’ve been there enough by now we’re hoping to have a wing named after the family.. Curulli is one ‘r’.