By Lee Carnihan
You’ll have enough on your plate in the first week without having to worry about what day it is. Time will become meaningless over the first few days and hours – it all blurs into one frankly – but we have to start somewhere and what better day to start on than a Monday?
Manic Monday – The Bangles
The Bangles may have sung about Mondays being a bit manic, but your new-born Monday will be very different. In fact, it will be unlike any Monday you’ve experienced before or will ever experience again. It might in fact be incredibly peaceful.
New-born babies – and mom – need a lot of rest to make up for the huge amount of energy they use up during labour, so don’t be surprised if your little one stays asleep for most of the day and night, if not all of it. When you look at your little cherub lying there curled up and sleeping “like a baby”, the words from an old nursery rhyme might spring to mind, ‘Monday’s child is fair of face’. And it’s true. Nothing will likely look as fair to you as the face of your own child.
Make the most of this time: peaceful cuddles with baby and mom are the perfect antidote to the stress of the birth. You might be overcome with emotion too: feeling wonder, joy, pride and even a teaspoon of terror are all completely natural in these first few days.
You’re a father now, and that’s a big responsibility. And just in case you got completely carried away in the rush to get to hospital, remember to call your boss to say you won’t be in a for a couple of weeks … because you’ve just had a real live baby!
Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones
A rolling stone gathers no moss, so the saying goes. It might only be day two but that shouldn’t stop you inviting one or two special friends and family around to see your little jewel. Although, you may have already had one or two sneaky unscheduled visits from an eager grandma or best friend, who in their own words, “just couldn’t stay away”.
This is also a great opportunity to start capturing those precious memories on camera, or rather, footage that you can play back on your angel’s wedding day! Striking while the iron is hot is a mantra that will become second nature now that you’re a new dad. Because in a day or two – not to mention for the next three or four years – you won’t get to plan things as well as you used to. Babies and children don’t always run to a timetable so take those photos whenever you can!
But as much as smartphones are incredibly good at taking photos and filming, it might be worth getting yourself an instant digital camera (a Polaroid camera to any dads over forty!) which can print out the photos as you take them. Just because you’re a new dad, doesn’t mean you have to give up your gizmos and gadgets – no sir. Having a baby gives you a second childhood and the perfect excuse to buy all the “boys toys” you can lay your hands on!
Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. – Simon and Garfunkel
After two days being cooped up in the house, it’s time to get out and about. It’s time to show off. Whether you nestle them into a stroller or tuck them into a sling – this is the time to take a walk and lap up the attention from passers-by. Look at me! I have a baby! I’m a proud new dad! These are the things you will think if not say. And rightly so. This is a defining moment in your life. Enjoy it while it lasts.
If you do have a stroller, you’ll realize how awkward it can be to keep proper control of it and reply to all the congratulatory phone calls and requests for photos. Fear not. There are plenty of gizmos out there like a phone cradle that you can strap onto the stroller.
All that fresh air will be good for baby and it might help them sleep a little longer – miracles do happen – but chances are your sleeping beauty is going to start waking up at odd hours, sometimes predictably, other times not. Whatever time of day or night they wake or cry, it’ll be because they’re hungry, cold, feeling poorly, wet and smelly, or tired from all the sleeping!
Thursday’s Child – David Bowie
By day four, your little angel will show you just how far they are prepared to go to get your attention. They’ll cry, wail and scream, sometimes for hours. Fear not. This is normal, if not common. It’s your baby’s only way of communicating, but it won’t last forever. They will learn to babble and talk, eventually.
Just remember: your baby came from a place that was warm, cosy, had food on tap and where they could hear their mamma’s voice and heartbeat all the time. Not that they are “outside”– which is by comparison a colder, darker, foodless place where mom may not be heard as easily – they’re going to freak out a bit. Crying is their way of letting you know they need you.
Friday I’m in Love – The Cure
Gone are the days of going out drinking with your friends on a Friday night – for now, at least. As tiredness begins to sink in, you’ll probably just want to curl up in front of the TV or snuggle up to your partner and catch whatever sleep you can before the next feed. Do it. Being close helps maintain a good bond with your partner, which is important because as your baby grows and you rack up more sleepless nights, tempers will begin to fray. Your limits will be tested.
A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturday – De La Soul
Ah, the weekend. Time to sleep in, enjoy a coffee and a leisurely read of the newspaper before you head off to the gym, the museum, the skate park. Wait, what weekend? Sorry Dad, weekends have been cancelled until further notice. Saturday won’t be recognisable any more. Saturday is where you let your partner sleep in, take the weight off her feet, let her catch up on sleep and anything else she won’t have had a chance to do. Letting her have some “me-time” is essential. She may say she doesn’t want it: moms do like to be with their babies after all, but that’s ok, you can justifiably whisk your little one away for another “proud dad” tour of the park!
Easy Like Sunday Morning – Lionel Richie
You’ve done it. You’ve survived your first week of fatherhood, and now it’s time to chill out – even if it’s only for the three minutes twenty seconds of Lionel Richie’s classic. This is your life now, stolen moments of bliss.
Lee Carnihan is a freelance writer, children’s author and new dad learning the ropes. http://www.carnihan.com