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No breast for the wicked


Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

I walked into the room to hear the three women talking about making ice lollies out of surplus breast milk. I didn’t break stride and went out the far door, pretending I had somewhere else to be, pretending I had not heard a word.
Aisling and her two friends could easily sense my discomfort and laughed as I made my hasty exit.
Some parts of being a new dad I’ve taken to quite quickly. Listening to women talk about breast pumps, lactating and breast milk lollies is not among them.
But having a wife who breast feeds brings plenty of benefits to new dads too so I definitely won’t knock it.
A friend of mine told me in advance to try to insist that Frankie be breastfed. There are many good reasons for this I thought – the natural antibodies, the health benefits and the bond it  fosters between mother and child.
But none of these were foremost in his mind when imparting the advice.
“You’ll get much more sleep if the missus is breastfeeding,” he argued.
I know, talk about selfish. But, feck it, he was right!
No breastfeeding means that when baby wakes up hungry in the middle of the night – this happens quite a lot in the early days – both parents are equally qualified to feed baby from a bottle. It’s a job you might duck out of one night, but try it the second night and see how that goes for you.
With breastfeeding however, Daddy is about as useful as, well, milk dispensers on a bull.
So baby will wake up; then both parents will wake; then Daddy will ‘reluctantly’ go back to sleep, saying ‘there’s no point in both of us staying awake’.
And so, in the early weeks and months, I was able to enjoy a much fuller night’s sleep than Aisling.
But things have changed.
After seven-and-a-half months, Frankie’s breastfeeding time is at an end.
Now it’s formula and solids for our little girl, and a bit of payback for her father.
When she wakes up in the morning looking for breakfast, I’m no longer able to shrug the shoulders, roll over and murmur ‘if only I had the equipment’.
By way of revenge, Frankie decided she would wake every morning at 6am, a good hour before her normal wake-up time.
With Aisling up late with students in the house, it meant a very early start every morning for me. By the time I got to work, I’d be almost ready for nap time myself.
It’s a long road that has no turn, and my smugness has come back to haunt me.

> In his fortnightly column, first-time-father Edwin McGreal  chart the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.

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