Eddison’s entry to the world didn’t exactly go to plan. After a difficult labour, Lis eventually had to have an emergency C-section, and my son was brought into the world mid-poo. They say that you quickly forget how difficult labour/birth is and it’s true to an extent, but we’ll never forget the first 24 hours with our newborn.
At 9lb 2oz Eddi wasn’t small, but the first time I held him, he felt weightless. Words can’t describe the feeling of pure elation, emotion and exhaustion you feel when your baby arrives; in a word it’s overwhelming. I like to think I’m fairly tough, but when your skin touches your baby’s, you have to be some sort of super-human macho man to not well up. I’ll admit it, I shed a tear.
Once we were on the recovery ward, I vividly remember looking at Lis and just being mega proud of her. Strangely, if I close my eyes, I can picture the moment perfectly still and it evokes the same heart-felt emotions as it did when it happened. Suddenly the two of us were a three and on top of our sheer joy, we realised we were absolutely clueless when it came to keeping a human alive. At this point, my experience of babies extended as far as a maximum of 11 minutes holding time. With Lis recovering from a C-section, I knew I was going to have to learn very quickly.
Due to the nature of the birth, Lis (my wife) was adamant that she and Eddison had loads of skin-to-skin after he was born. Luckily he latched on to her boob really quickly and they bonded beautifully. We both tried to sleep, but neither of us were able to – we were too excited/scared. In hindsight, it would have been a good idea to put the baby in the cot and try to get some rest!
I wish somebody had told me how that it’s ok not to know what to do with a newborn. I was so tired, I literally just said “help” to the midwife on duty and she was brilliant. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help – that would be my main advice.
Although it’s totally against my stereotypical male “no instructions needed” approach, guidance on a newborn is really helpful, especially when you’re physically and emotionally wrecked. After a few unnecessary changes, I was a nappy changing ninja – open old nappy; baby wipe; new nappy; close; high five. Soon after the clothing pit-stops became more slick (although sometimes still problematic – seriously though, who designs those poppers to be so complex?!).
The first 24 hours isn’t indicative of what parenting is. Once you are home and settled (it took us a good few weeks to be settled – we might not even be now in truth, who knows what normal is anymore) it does get easier. Take in those special first experiences and hold on to them tight. It’s hard but it’s all worth it.