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A gentleman’s family


And then there were two

The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

There’s nothing like it.
Watching your child coming into the world is an unbeatable feeling.
Almost two years ago we experienced it for the first time when Frankie came hurtling into our lives and changed everything.
I got it then – the feeling people spoke about when your own flesh and blood (quite literally!) comes into the world.
And I got to feel it again last week. At 1.45pm on Monday, September 3 baby Éamon Peter McGreal was born at Mayo University Hospital.
He fairly tested the scales too, coming in at a fine size of nine pounds and 13 ounces. Éamon is my name and my father’s name in Irish and the name of my father’s father.
Young Éamon is, many have told us, half reared already because of his size! The brilliant nurses in the maternity ward were delighted with his weight. The bigger they are, the healthier they are, but, unfortunately for poor Aisling, the hungrier they are too.
Éamon needs to be fed every three hours. For now that’s a lot for Aisling to deal with after a tough few weeks carrying such a size of a young fella around. But she is a trooper.
There’s surely nowhere a man can feel as useless as a maternity or labour ward. And we are all capable of making it worse by saying the wrong thing. Trust me, any filter your wife might use will be gone by the later stages of pregnancy. You will be told straight if you choose the wrong words.
Éamon is already a content little maneen, happy to sleep when he’s not in need of feeding. The main problem so far has been that all the clothes we brought to the maternity ward are too small for him. I’m far too pleased about this.
Frankie has been with our childminder all week, oblivious to what will be arriving at her door. The main job I had was arranging all of that, moving between home, childminder’s, work and hospital, and co-ordinating help with Aisling’s family in Achill. I can only imagine how stressful these times must be for people away from home with no family support. We’re blessed with our childminder and the great family support we have.
It was a bit easier first time around with Frankie, 21 months ago. I could stay with my parents in Breaffy and wait in the hospital as long as I needed to. This time around it is a lot more ‘Go, go, go!’.
And it is only starting. Our experience with Frankie will make it somewhat easier minding Éamon in the early stages. The bigger challenge will be keeping him safe from a big sister who will want to play with him like he’s a doll.
Myself and Aisling will be performing security duties as much as parenting for the first few weeks I fear. And perhaps for longer still.
Already, though, they have much in common. Both were born on Mondays and both were exactly four days overdue.
Having a boy and a girl led to many telling us we now have ‘a gentleman’s family’. Neither I nor Aisling had heard that phrase before various congratulations messages came in with the expression. I’ll take it as a compliment. It would take a lot to offend me this week!

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.