When I first started this blog way back in April 2015 (okay, so it’s slightly less than a year but it feels like absolutely yonks!), I spoke to Dylan and suggested he perhaps write a post or two. Something about preparing for parenthood the third time round, or advice for new dads, whatever took his fancy really. After all, he’s a former journalist and he still works in the communications sector so he should be able to put together a few words. However, life has this funny habit of constantly getting in the way of things like this! And whilst I had my pregnancy to type away, and then have had the odd moment while Alexandra’s asleep to post a few things (I tend to write four or five posts in one go and stack them up for future weeks), he’s been busy going to work and, you know, keeping everything together and looking after the baby for quite a while when I was ‘having a rest in hospital’ as we often refer to it. So now I’ve grabbed ten minutes with him while he’s eating his dinner (poor bloke can’t even do that in peace) to quiz him about the first six months or so of life as a third-time daddy:
“I suppose although I’d be described as a veteran having had two kids before, the main advantage is you’re not phased by situations which perhaps a first-time father might find daunting such as actually handling the child. I think there’s a genuine fear when you become a father for the first time that your baby’s going to come apart in your hands; however, I think I certainly forgot how exhausting it is.
“No matter how much experience you’ve got, nothing really prepares you for the tiredness and general disruption to your routine caused by the arrival of a newborn. I think it would have been tiring for anybody but effectively becoming Mr Mom due to circumstances for the first couple of months and having to do the lion’s share of night feeds and everything else that goes hand in hand with a baby was a massive shock to the system.
“I think had I not had that previous experience I wouldn’t have coped with that. I was extremely fortunate to have a brilliant network of family, extended family and friends chipping in which enabled me to catch that second wind, however there were times when I felt ill through a combination of the demands of looking after Alex and also juggling with the stress of hospital visits in the most trying of circumstances.
“Apart from the determination of wanting to live up to my responsibilities and not wanting to let Alex or anyone else down, what kept me going was the daily rewards of seeing Alex respond and having a closer relationship with her than I perhaps would have done had I gone straight back to work. There were simple pleasures like being able to bring her into bed every morning for a cuddle and even choosing her clothes and dressing her for the day. I felt very proud of the way she was turned out and that people commented on that, I took pride in making sure she was regularly bathed and trying to establish a feeding and bedtime routine.
“In one sense I was pleased to go back to work in November because it signalled a return to the ‘normal’ family life that we’d originally envisaged but it was still a wrench handing over Alex’s daily care. I think on reflection I was privileged to have that experience and that close relationship with her, particularly as I won’t ever have that chance again and it’s an opportunity that few new fathers get. For all the dark moments, there were plenty of bright ones. It really was ‘glass half full’ to use a cliché.
“Now, I think the bond I have with Alex is a lot stronger for us having lived through that together. I think my experiences at the moment are similar to most fathers who come home from work each day. It’s incredible to see that rapid development like the first recognisable sounds which are going to make up her first words, those looks for understanding, the smiles and the laughter.
“Those memories are priceless and I have a wealth of them.”
Harriet, Dylan and Alexandra x