Eeeekkk, so you've taken the test and it's positive. It's such a magical time for some!! Mum is feeling so overwhelmed, magical and possibly nauseous all in one and dad is puffing his chest and feeling A- MAZING!! Wow.. what a wonderful moment to share.
The first kick that dad feels is incredible and the tummy rubs are constant just so he can get another kick from your little one growing inside. You both just smile with glee that soon you will be meeting your little one very soon.
Plans get in place for the big event, you may have taken part in antenatal courses together. Dad may have even brought a book on parenting and how to change a nappy!! It really is all happening. Date nights are still happening and that "Baby moon" trip away may still be on the cards before mum feels too fatigued and her nesting instincts have taken over.
And finally the big day is here, dad feels like Superman keeping mum relaxed, but also putting everything in the car, calling the midwives and generally being a complete rock to mum. Within what seems such a short moment in the grand scale of life - that beautiful little baby is here, nestled into mums arms and the feeling of complete bliss has overcome you both.
As you pack everything up and pop your new little bundle of gorgeousness into the car seat ready for your first journey home, you both feel so in love that you created this little being.
So what happens now? That is a question I have said out loud each time I brought home my babies. They all slept pretty much the first few days and although I was shattered, I was still running on pure euphoria and felt like a complete goddess. I could do everything, I could feed the baby, change it's bottom, rest .. oh yes I was absolutely nailing motherhood..in the first few days.
Boom .. then hit the sleepless nights, I was tired, my boobs were like veiny balloons and I felt like a human milking cow with engorged udders. My bleeding got worse so when I was resting I was conscious of leaking out of my sanitary wear and I felt like I was playing a game of hungry hippos eating everything in sight!!! But something I didn't seem to notice much whilst bleeding, eating, feeding and sleeping anywhere I could.. was my partner. We had gone from this romantic, touchy feely, sexual couple to nothing. Maybe the odd kiss here and there. I almost felt like my baby was on a conveyor belt and I was the factory producing the packing goods.... milk, clean bum, cuddles, clean clothes but just didn't really consider my partner.
Looking back now I wonder ..How do those dad's feel when they have been the eye of their partner for many years previous? How do dads feel when they are eating on their own as their baby mamma is upstairs eating dinner in bed as it's the only place where she can eat comfortably whilst ensuring the baby is latched on and guzzling? How does dad feel when your fast asleep in bed at 6pm when he finished work? How does dad feel that the baby wants mamma 90% off the time as it knows her voice, her smell, HER MILK? How does dad feel when he doesn't put the nappy on as quickly as mum and she's staring at him thinking "I COULD HAVE DONE THAT IN 20.2 SECONDS!!"?
Now i'm not saying that every dad feels this way, however dads really can feel a little sidetracked once a newborn arrives. Yes he's had plenty of time to prepare for the arrival, but how does one prepare to not necessarily be "the hub" of his partner anymore. And this is something REAL, more and more marriages and relationships break down once the arrival of their first child.
According to the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, within three years of the birth of a child, approximately two-thirds of couples find that the quality of their relationship declines and within five years of the birth of a first child, 13 percent of marriages end in divorce for couples who were married at the time of the child’s birth.
So how can we help dads feel more involved, loved, like we still care about them and we do want them in our daily routine? Here are a few ideas that can help:
It could be that new parents arrange a home date night twice a month. Once baby is settled you could enjoy a prepared meal together with no TV, no Phones and just conversation.
Perhaps going through your wedding album, or photos of you in your "dating" days. This can help reminisce and bring back those feelings of wanting to make time for each other.
Dad does baby group - Yup!! Dad's can get involved with the weekly baby groups. It enables the bonding of him with his newborn PLUS he get's to meet other dad's whilst you can sit and have a cuppa (whether that be in the venue cafe so your on tap for feeding) or at a friends catching up.
Another FABULOUS tool is the DadPad, a wonderful step by step guide for dads to use to guide them through practical things from changing nappies to making a bottle. Mothercare UK have started suppling these wonderful quick guides and I had the pleasure of meeting the founder Julian Bose recently at a Mothercare event. For more information click - www.thedadpad.co.uk or check our your local Mothercare store for a hands on experience.
Working hard as a unit can be challenging once a newborn is born, however it can be achieved with some planning, love, compassion and remembering that dad is there too. Yes I know having a baby can put pressure on both mammas and dad's, but for today this is all about the daddies and it's showing that they are important and we do still love and care for them - even if we are up to our eyeballs in healthcare visits, swaddling, feeding, colic and goodness knows what else.