Supportive dads

Picture of David Ahern

David Ahern

David is the current editor of The Majellan

  No amount of advice from family and friends and no amount of baby literature will prepare you for the arrival of your first child. You know things will change and your life will be turned upside down because everyone tells you so, but it’s hard to appreciate until you experience it yourself.

The realisation will hit home in the first few days and first few weeks. The night feeds, the nappy changes and the crying. It’s relentless. It’s mind numbing. It’s also brilliant.

To be honest. Men have the easier role because we’re not the primary nurturer. But what we need to be is a strong support. We need to be there for our partners during the emotional roller coaster rides, the hormonal moments, and to ease the stress and tension when feeding problems arise or ‘bubs’ won’t settle.

It may be just to hold your partner’s hand or whisper positive thoughts in her ear. The simple things are often the most effective.

Irrespective of paternity leave, many men at this time are the primary bread winner. For anyone in full-time work, a good night’s sleep is essential but the arrival of a newborn will require some adjustments to your lifestyle. There won’t be as many restaurant outings or late-night parties with friends.

In the early days it may mean getting up several times during the night to make your partner a cup of tea while she’s breast feeding or taking it in turns to change a nappy. Compared to what she’s going through, however, that is trivial.

I remember many a night when my son wouldn’t settle. I’d pop him in the pram and wheel him up and down the corridor. Fighting extreme tiredness, interspersed with large yawns, I had one eye on the pram and one eye on my wristwatch, counting down the minutes till I had to shower and shave and get ready for work. Sometimes the ‘pram express’ would go back and forth along the corridor for several hours. It was mental mania.

Just the thought of putting in a full day’s work with only three or four hours sleep under my belt was enough to send me into a tailspin. But when I looked down at him with his little red face, the tears rolling down his cheeks, and his little arms thrashing about, those thoughts melted away. It was all worth it.

Rather than feel sorry for myself, I’d head off to work with the thought that I couldn’t wait to get home in the late afternoon or evening and see my family again. Between writing documents and attending meetings, cuddling my baby and being there for my partner was the most important thing.

My feelings were also very much geared toward my partner and the fact she was also going to be working all day, and dealing with smelly nappies, regular feeds and the crying. There was always the crying.

At the end of the day being a support, emotionally and physically, for your partner is paramount. Your love has brought you together. Your love has produced a new life. Your love will get you through.

 

This story is the 4th Becoming Parents booklet titled ‘And a new journey begins’. The four issues are available for $20. Details can be found at www.majellan.media or www.becomingparents.org.au

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