11 March 2011

First impressions of being a Dad

Sophie is now 1 month old and it is an interesting time to reflect on the experience to date.

The first thing is that it is amazing. It still hasn’t really, fully sunk in. I have never been interested in babies before. I like kids, they are great fun, but always thought babies were just dull. I have always found the lack of interaction a big turn off. It is not that I had anything against them, I just thought they were boring. Then along came Sophie and I am besotted with her. I can sit and look at her for hours and despite the fact that she has no idea who I am, I love just being with her, playing with her and holding her.

I was then curious as to whether being a father had changed my perception of babies in general or just this one special one. So, I interacted with a few friends and their new borns and I can honestly say that it hasn’t. Other peoples babies are still not very interesting to me and while I have a much better degree of empathy with what and how the parents feel I have no desire to hold or play with their new born offspring. I am genetically programmed to adore my own child. How awesome is that?

Other aspects of being a Dad. While people had told me and I had heard all the figures, I had no comprehension of the amount of time that a baby would take up. Taking care of this little person really is a full time, 24/7 job. I know it gets better, or at least changes as they get older but for the moment, its very challenging to get anything else done, especially for Katharine. Sophie feeds every 3-4 hours and each feed takes an hour, so a quarter of her life is spent feeding, then you add bathing, changing, etc and then we need to eat and sleep yourself and there is not a lot of time left in the day.

The second thing that is difficult to understand before you have a child is the lack of sleep. The baby is awake at least twice in the night and rarely sleeps for more than 3 hours at a time. That means that we don’t sleep for more than three hours at a time and often less. Imagine being woken every three hours and then staying up for an hour – its brutal. And people say “it will get better” and “this only lasts for the first few months” and I am wondering if I can survive until the end of the week. But once again nature is an amazing thing. Katharine who is normally a total sleep monster, seems to be unaffected, or certainly is managing much better than me. It’s amazing how the body and mind adapt.

I am also amazed at how much this tiny person can eat. When she was born she came in at a healthy but small 3.1 kg which dropped immediately to 2.85 kg. Since then she has been eating like a baby elephant and is now 4kg. That is a 33% increase in body weight in one month. How is that possible? Well the fact that she drinks almost a litre of milk (1 kg) every day probably helps. Yes that is correct she is guzzling 25% of her body weight in food everyday. That’s like me eating almost a ton of food per month. So maybe I am not amazed at how much weight she is putting on.

So in summary, being a Dad, great but knackering.

There are some pics of the little girl on both mine and Katharine's flickr sites

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