The Baby Whisperer never mentions this and I’m fairly sure Gina Ford overlooks it too but the preeminent, hugely important task for any new dad is to stock up with tea bags. Just three weeks ago we had one of those huge, 300 strong Yorkshire Tea packets brimming with caffeinated goodness. On the 12th of November Elsa came along and since then friends and relatives have descended on us in their hoards. If it’s not friends and relatives then it’s friends of relatives and relatives of friends and all have had a brew while they coo over the new arrival.
If you’ve read any of the other posts on this blog then you will know that advice is not my stock-in-trade. The clue is in the title, I’m a ‘Bewildered Dad’ not a “Smug Know-It-All Clever Clogs Better-Than-You Dad” which is handy because www.smugknowitallcleverclogsbetterthanyoudad.co.uk had already been taken.
However, I’m meeting Tom Fletcher from McFly this weekend who is due to become a dad next year and it would be remiss of me not to note down a few observations from my first 18 days of fatherhood to pass on to him. Does that sound hideously arrogant and patronising? Ah well, I’ve started so I’ll finish:
Our Millennium Bunker style stash is now sadly depleted and, not only that, the standard of biscuit we’re providing has had to be drastically scaled down from ‘posh’ to ‘digestive’ so as to avoid us having to file for bankruptcy.
Baring this in mind my first recommendation Tom, if you’re reading, is to get yourself down to Costco’s to stock up.
While you’re there you’d best make sure you’ve filled any space in the car that’s not occupied by tea and biccies with nappies. You know how many Pampers you expect you’ll need? Yeah, treble that. At least.
Babies are so dainty and their stomachs as small as a marble at first but somehow, defying all known laws of physics, they expel (according to my rudimentary mathematics) fifty two thousand times their own body weight. It’s also worth mentioning that some of it will surge out cannon-style when you least expect it. Hilarious if it’s your other half in the firing line, less so if it’s you. It’s like the most gruesome episode of Noel’s House Party ever and that’s saying something.
You’re a well-known and respected pop star Tom, you have certain standards to uphold and a public image to maintain. Alas you may have to sacrifice all that amid the desperation of trying to soothe your child to sleep. Imagine being spotted at quarter to one in the morning, your shrieking offspring on your shoulder, frantically trying to get them to focus on a piece of paper with five black marker pen lines crudely drawn upon it whilst running the water in your kitchen sink in order to create some white noise. This will happen and you will feel as insane as you look. I know this because that’s exactly what I was doing an hour ago.
All sorts of baby books will tell you that little ‘uns can only really distinguish between extremes of colour so, rather than clearing the racks of their local John Lewis, your mates who want to buy you something really useful for baby would be better off swinging by Ryman’s and purchasing you a Sharpie allowing you to make a few marks on a pad.
Both tactics honestly seem to work although I will issue a word of caution that you should only attempt the tap trick if you pay a flat water rate. It could get pricey otherwise. If you’re on a meter then you’ll be kicking yourself right now that you allowed them two lads from Busted to take a cut of the proceeds from the next tour.
Most of all though, it’ll make you appreciate your other half even more than you already do. As much as you can try to make the first few days go smoothly it’ll be her and her alone that has to latch the baby on and spend hours watching mindless nonsense on Netflix (Gossip Girl in our house, ugh) if you choose to go down the breast feeding route.
No words of warning can prepare you for looking on helplessly as your missus fights to stay awake for a feed at 4am having had approximately seven minutes sleep all night.
It also turns out that breastfeeding makes women particularly thirsty and this is where my final hint comes in. You might, like me, want to buy your wife a very special gift this Christmas. A gift that will help her immeasurably through this ordeal. A simple idea, stunningly realised, bringing satisfaction and relief at what is a turbulent time. Yes, I’m talking about one of those hats with two can holders on the sides and straws that come down to the mouth.
Good luck, love Jim.