Friday, 24 March 2017


Now, just to reiterate, I’m not going to be giving away any of Professor Jane’s tips or anything as helpful as that on this blog, primarily because I’m still trying to understand some of the advice and tips she’s given us so wouldn’t even know where to begin with passing it all on, but also because we’ve signed a confidentiality agreement preventing us from breathing a word of any of this, and as new parents we certainly don’t have the time to be sued - we barely have the time to blink.  But let me give you a small insight to what we’re facing here. 

Check this lot out:

1) There are 37 steps to our bedtime routine.  37.  We have to start the bloody thing at lunchtime otherwise by the time we’ve finished its morning!

2) The only fucker going to sleep when I ‘pat n’shush’ is me.

3) In the last week or so Susan and I have said the words ‘where are the wipes?’ more times than we’ve said the words ‘I love you’ in all of the fifteen amazing years we’ve been together.

4) It is extremely hard not to lose your shit on camera in the middle of the night when you attempt to change your baby’s nappy and they piss all over their vest, baby suit, baby bag and sheets.

5) I do not know how / if / when we will ever make it out of the house again.

6) We are nothing but a formula one pit (shit) team, working in short bursts of frenzied activity from which there is no let up, apart from stealing a few minutes in the bathroom to wipe shit off your face, or baby sick off your neck.

7) Baby Niamh doesn’t seem to give two fucks about the schedule.

8) There are so many rules, so many do’s and don’ts, so many chapters of the Regimental Baby to read and learn and understand that I’m beginning to look upon Niamh as a series of tasks rather than the beautiful little baby she is.

9) It is also extremely hard to read through the above mentioned chapters of the Regimental Baby when you constantly fall asleep on every third word.  At this rate I’ve estimated we’ll be finished reading the book by the time Niamh is seventeen years old.

10) And finally, you don’t ‘get used’ to the cameras, you don’t ‘forget all about them’, despite what Professor Jane says.  You are very aware that they’re there the whole time, 24/7, monitoring your every move, picking up every grimace, logging every swear word, judging you on how well you’re coping, or how good a parent you are.     

I’m starting to see lists of rules in my dreams at night (ok, this is a lie, but I probably would see lists in my dreams if we were ever permitted any bloody sleep).  But even at night the rules are in their multitudes ranging from the frequency of feeds to how best to actually feed, or wind, or settle, which makes those dark, lonely hours of the late night/early morning variety even more soul destroying.  

And please don’t think just because of a technicality (no breasts) that I just let Susan get on with the night feeds whilst I grab myself some sleep.  I do my bit, although it is clear that the position of Head of Nappy Changes, (Full Time position, unsocial hours - mainly before and after night time feeds, no overtime paid, overtime compulsory), would be under threat if Susan wasn’t so ‘God Damn fucking tired after feeding for seven hours straight’, to coin a phrase (to coin Susan’s phrase).  

Only last night, in feedback from what I’m calling my spontaneous 360° Appraisal, where for my part I told Susan that perhaps she didn’t need to kick me so hard, or shout words like ‘wake up, you inconsiderate wanker!’ in order to wake me when she’d finished feeding, Susan had actually informed me that she felt my own swearing and moaning was in no way conducive to a calming environment in which to settle Niamh back to sleep after her feeds.  She quite rightly pointed out that she was more than capable of growling ‘fuckitfuckitfuckit!’ under her breath every time Niamh pissed like a horse and flooded the room, which brought into question exactly what it was that I was bringing to the piss and shit fest that is night time changes. 

So, clearly there are some areas for me to work on then.  We’ve also decided (Susan has decided) that I’m to do the early morning feed as well, due to a conversation we’ve recently had with Professor Jane on the subject: 

Professor Jane - ‘It is fundamental to the development of the bond between father and baby.  I’ve known cases where entire families fall apart in later years because Dad never got involved in the feeding process at these early stages.  Teenagers would resent and voice a dislike of their fathers, more often than not under the guise of being grounded for their behaviour or some such disagreement, but it all points back to these early years.’

Me – ‘Hang on, but isn’t that just because teenagers are arseholes and don’t like being grounded?  How can that be linked to whether I was involved with the feeding when they were babies?  There’s quite a lot of other stuff going on there, especially with teenagers, quite a lot of life events between baby and teenager that could also have an effect on things, surely?’

Professor Jane – ‘Listen, that’s what studies show, and that’s why I’m the expert because I study these things.  It is not the final destination that is important, it is the feeding you do along the way to get you there, and the stops you make along the way that take you there that add to the final resting place that matters, haha yes?’

Me (to Susan, under my breath) – ‘What the living fuck is she talking about?’              

Susan (to me, hushed tones) – Her eyebrows move a hell of a lot when’s talking.  It’s really hard to focus on what she’s actually saying, but either way you’re doing the early morning feeds else Niamh is going to prison when she’s older.

What we didn’t compute however, was that in order for me to do the early morning feeds Susan must express - in between feeds.  Some days there are no ‘in between feeds’.  Some days there are just feeds and fuck all else besides, although we do always make time for little moments of crushing guilt from Susan when she hasn’t managed to express, which of course means I can’t do the early feed, resulting in the complete collapse of our family somewhere in the near future.  

Oh, how we laugh.

But, when the moons align and everything miraculously falls into place, and Susan somehow finds the time to express and I do get the chance to do the early morning feed, I have to say I love it.  And I love it not because it’s something I should be doing for the sake of mankind, and not because of something that may or may not happen further down the line when Niamh is older, but I love it because in those moments everything else falls away and it’s just me and my baby girl.  It’s a moment between us where I can do nothing else.  I can’t be rushing around getting ready for the next thing on the list of things to do, I can only sit and feed and try and take in this wonderful little bundle of craziness I’m holding in my arms.  

In only this short time at home Susan and I are already conscious of how precious these moments are, and of how quickly they will pass us by.  We rush around so much trying to do our best for Niamh, trying to get everything ready for her nap, her feed, her ‘routine’, that sometimes we forget to enjoy the moment with her, enjoy cuddling her, enjoy having her. 

I know, I know, all this talk of enjoying our baby, how ridiculous.  We are well aware of the dangers of chilling out a bit on the rules and regulations of bringing up a baby, we have been warned many a time that that kind of thing only leads down the very rocky road of ending up with a clingy baby, a non-sleep through-er, or a needy baby (aren’t they supposed to be needy?  That’s the point, isn’t it?).  And I know we do all these things to make our lives easier in the long run, and after a few more weeks of sleepless nights I’ll most likely be desperate to try anything just so long as Niamh sleeps through, but at the same time I can already feel the pressure we’re putting on ourselves growing when it doesn’t all go according to ‘plan’.  

From our limited experience doing the Regimental Baby Routine it’s becoming apparent that some bits work, some bits not so much (can you see why I don’t work in Marketing?), but what’s really out of kilter with it is our expectations.  I think Susan and I perhaps fooled ourselves, our have even been led to believe, that you could win big a lot of the time when in fact you need to be happy with very, very small victories.  

Otherwise the pressure keeps on growing on you as an individual, on you as a couple, and on you as parents. 

We’re meeting up with Professor Jane in a couple of weeks to review the first month’s footage, I wonder if she’ll share the same view on this one?  Guess we’ll find out soon enough.         

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