Welcome to your new life, where projectile vomit, sticking your hand in poo and sleep-deprivation are all part of being a new dad. Here are some lessons I learnt the hard way the first time around.
Not taking a random vom seriously
Christmas Day. Massive vom. Projectile, narrowly missing the half-unwrapped, beautiful wooden walker (he’s four months old. A present for the future, obviously).
‘He’s excited because it’s Christmas,’ we told ourselves. That’s why he’s puked his own body weight of formula everywhere (he’s 4 months old. He wouldn’t know Christmas from a beef Wellington. Idiots).
We wiped him up, and travelled two hours up the road to the relatives. First meeting with Great Grandma. Puke. Then his little bum started and that was it. Hurried Christmas lunch, into a local hotel as we were all feeling decidedly ropey, and by Boxing Day we were all, man woman and child, watching the inside of the toilet bowl rather than the test match.
Dadvice: Don’t ignore the vom.
Thinking ‘it won’t change our lives’
“The baby’s coming into our lives, we’re not coming into his.”
Think again, mate. It might sound like a nice mantra, and actually for the first few months, you can kid yourself it’s not that different – apart from the chronic lack of sleep. You can wheel the blob around, it’ll fall asleep. You can still go to the pub for a meal, it just lies there. Sleeping. Or staring.
Fast forward six or seven months, however, and no matter what you like to think, there’s only one thing controlling your life – and it’s not you. Give in and accept immediately, rather than trying to maintain the same life as you had pre-baby. It’s much easier in the long run.
Dadvice: Accept you’re a dad, and your life has changed forever. And deal with it.
Cooking while ‘on duty’
Mum’s out. Baby bouncing in bouncer. Dad’s hungry and decides to get the wok out. Brings the baby into the kitchen to keep an eye on him. Mistake. A combination of hot oil, slightly dirty pan and food sees the wok go up in flames and a sharp dash out towards the back door – narrowly missing baby. Could have been a disaster.
Dadvice: Always put baby somewhere strategic. And when alone, order takeaway.
Booking a long-haul flight
Sitting in the travel agent booking a long-haul flight for nine months’ time. Six-month-old sat, light and happy on our knee. The travel agent tells us that by the time we fly he’ll be too old for the bassinet, but can travel for significantly less if he sits on our knee. We contemplate for a second, think, ‘It’ll be right’, and save ourselves a decent amount of cash.
Fast forward nine months and 12 hours, and I’m in Abu Dhabi airport begging the travel agent to find us an extra seat. Anywhere. Business class, on the wing, in the cockpit – I DON’T CARE!
The novelty of baby roulette has worn off. If he falls asleep on you, he’s yours. Cue the numbest arse you’ve ever felt (or not felt, as was the case).
Money’s tight, and spending an extra grand or so to enable the little fella to have a seat seemed like a frivolous waste when sat in the travel agent.
Dadvice: Don’t be tempted. As my numb arse will testify, it’s not worth it.
My amateur ‘check the smell’ technique
We’ve got the lights down, watching a movie, while the little fella’s rolling around the floor. Not crawling, but a little mobile. A smell wafts delightfully across the room.
Wife: ‘Has he done a poo?’
Me: ‘Someone has.’ (Disclaimer: We also have cats)
Wife: ‘Your turn.’
Without thinking I reach around on the floor to find him, and shove my hand full on down his nappy.
Me: ‘Yep. He has.’
Dadvice: For the love of God, don’t do that.