Disclaimer: Before anyone pities my partner, firstly he has read this so knows full well he is being used as an example of what not to do. Secondly if anything he now realises what a dick he was/occasionally still is and is thankful that I wrote this as apparently seeing it written down really helps it sink in as opposed to me screaming at him on a loop. Thirdly I am quite nice to him, I make him breakfast at the weekend, even when he criticises me from the other room and moans that it’s missing hash browns. I cook him all his evening meals because since the baby he’s clearly forgotten that meals don’t cook themselves and I rescue him when the baby is screaming and he has a look of “oh shit” on his face. So the embarrassment of this being published for all to see is forgiven.
A lot of the time when I see new babies, I see the loving and supporting partners, the teamwork at 2am and the love surrounding a newly expanded family.
What the baby books and countless Instagram accounts I follow didn’t prepare me for was the not liking my partner 90% of the time phase. Of course I still love him and I love how much he loves our son, but in the early days and still in the middle of the night when the baby won’t settle, I don’t like him very much.
Our birthing story was a little bit brutal (catch up with that here and here) meaning we had to spend a fair few additional days in hospital, luckily my hospital allowed partners to stay too. Unlucky for me mine may as well have been at home.
For the first few nights he was so tired (rolling my eyes over here, my induction started on Sunday morning, Arlo was born at 4:59am Tuesday morning, I had no more than 3 hours sleep in all that time, but sure he was tired…) he slept through all of our babies cries. So not only did I have to wake him on a few occasions because I physically couldn’t reach our son (thank the stitches, catheter and 2 litres of blood loss for that!) but then when I did wake him and needed his support trying (and failing) to breast feed I would look over and he’d have fallen back to sleep. Now I’m not saying any of this to make him feel bad or to paint him in a terrible light, I’m saying this because I wish I had been prepared that sometimes partners suck, so hopefully some new mums out there will know they are not alone and it does get better!
Even then in those first precious days, I would be holding my son at ridiculous o’clock in the morning and looking over at my snoring man, and exuding hate. How dare he sleep. If I’m awake so should he be. To all the dads-to-be out there, don’t be that guy, be the guy who’s awake even if it’s taking everything to keep your eyes open, keep them open. We need your support. Throwing in quick comments like “I’m tired too” (yes he actually said that) doesn’t help anyone.
So here is a few tips from a new mum to you a dad to be.
1. Make the dinner or at least order take out and call her beautiful even if she is shovelling food in so fast she has sweet and sour sauce dripping down her chin.
2. Run visitors by her. We get it you want to show the baby off as well, after all you did help make him. But don’t have impromptu visits. For example, in the early days no one wants their father-in-law around when they are trying to breastfeed. Or if you are finding your feet with formula the last thing you need is someone leaning over watching you feed the baby. In the later days when dare I say the baby might possibly be in a routine, stick to that routine, chances are the mum has worked hard to implement it, so inviting people around in the middle of when the baby should be having his bed time feed is just plain stupid and inconsiderate. Use your common sense.
3. Don’t be the dad of the year in front of people only to pass the buck when it’s just the two of you. Yes it’s nice everyone seeing how much you love the baby. But if you aren’t being hands on at home don’t pretend to be in front of everyone else. Believe me the comments of “aren’t you lucky he’s so good” are annoying when you know full well it will be you yet again doing the night feeds.
4. Accept that she’s probably going to cry a lot and have random mood swings for no good reason. Walking in from work to find her crying covered in sick/poo or both may happen. Be supportive. She doesn’t need a reason believe me hormones are sneaky little bastards that don’t settle down for a long time, sometimes we don’t even know why we’re crying.
5. Yes you have to get up for work and you’re tired. But she has to get up and keep this perfect tiny little human that you both created alive whilst using matchsticks to keep her eyes open. No pressure.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and find her rocking the baby crying, don’t just roll over and go back to sleep, help.
6. A shower isn’t a luxury. Believe it or not even though she is home all day, she may not find an opportunity to shower. Babies cry and they’re hard work at times. Let her shower, don’t wait for her to beg for you to get up before your work alarm and watch the baby just so she can clean herself.
7. Wetting the babies head, or making any plans. Run them through her. I repeat run them through her. There may be days when she doesn’t say a word to another adult, so receiving a text to say you’re having a quick pint with the lads will not go down well. Be considerate, taking care of a baby no matter how rewarding is hard work so having a moment to catch your breath while you watch the baby really can make the world of difference.
8. Don’t make comments about her vagina. Let’s face it if your baby comes out that way then it’s not going to look the same or possibly feel the same ever again! Someone I knows husband (I’m being nice and not naming and shaming) actually muttered these words “your vagina looks like roadkill” all I’m going to say is WHAT THE FUCK? I mean who actually says that.
9. Don’t pester for sex. A small minority of women get their sex drive back quickly. The majority don’t. Pestering her for sex, or you know “at least a blow job” is just going to get you screamed at. You have two hands use them because you probably aren’t going to get any action for a while. Also as a side note. Sex doesn’t mean love, so don’t play the guilt card and imply she doesn’t love you just because she isn’t putting out.
10. Support her decisions on how to feed the baby. Ok so you really wanted her to breastfeed as one it saves money and two it’s been drummed in to you that breast is best. I’m telling you now fed is best. If she’s breast feeding, make her drinks, snacks and support her, don’t lean over her when she’s crying that the baby isn’t getting any milk and tell her she isn’t doing it right. If she formula feeds listen to her when she tells you to hold the bottle differently, she can see all the air you’re letting in and she’ll be the one up with a screaming baby who’s in pain with trapped wind.
Babies are hard work. But it is the most rewarding job. Work together as a team. We get it, dads struggle too, but we aren’t mind readers. So if you aren’t opening up then we won’t know. Being a parent is a learning curve, so get prepared read the damn books, go to the antenatal classes, attend the midwives appointments if she asks you too and just show up.
Lastly enjoy it, those first few weeks go so quickly.