Getting ready for the big change


Diary of a first-time dad
Edwin McGreal

Mother Nature is not known for her punctuality. Right now, my wife and I are waiting for D Day. D standing for due.
November 21 is the date we’ve been trying to prepare for since our first scan last May, but the unfortunate reality is you cannot just ignore every other day and book November 21 off. Mother Nature, in the form of our unborn child, does not work like that. So right now we’re on standby. Waiting. As I write, I’m keeping an eye on my phone for ‘the call’.
By the time you are reading this, we could have news, or the follow-up column could still be a ‘preview’ effort.
“Are you all set?” has been the most common question in recent weeks and months. “Not at all” is the honest reply I tend to give.
We’ve been preparing ourselves for a big change but in an abstract sense, clueless as to the hour-to-hour, day-to-day impact of it.
We both have nieces and nephews, though my wife has much more experience than I do of changing nappies. Changing one nappy would count as more experience than me. Apparently it’s no work at all when it’s your own. That better be true or I’m in trouble. I’ve seen my sister and brother-in-law do it and wonder how they do it several times a day.
The 7am starts for the next few years, if we’re lucky, will be a shock to the system too. The shorter-term alarm call at any time of the night will be a test. A social life could become as rare as Christmas. But we signed up to all of this willingly, so we’ll have to just get on with it.
When we first found out, the biggest issue was keeping it under wraps until after the first scan at three months. In the meantime we had to tell a few white lies.
To those who asked ‘Anything stirrin?’, we said ‘Not yet’. Aisling found creative ways to pretend she was drinking on nights out. (Only in Ireland would the sight of a woman not drinking alcohol on a night out lead to suspicions of pregnancy.)
So Aisling kept one step ahead. Staying in a round of just two people, not having her drink finished when it was someone else’s round and refilling her soda water when it was her round, letting her friends think it was mixed with vodka. At the end of the night, waiting until the coast was clear before driving away. You couldn’t allow the lie to go to its logical conclusion and have people think you were drink driving.
But once we started telling people, the reactions were incredible. It was like we had just joined some secret society whose benefits were unknown to non-members. Everyone was so happy for us and other parents told us how lucky we were.
The problem with all of the positive reaction is you subconsciously convince yourself this will be straightforward. A walk in the park. Of course it won’t be simple, and it is a huge step into the unknown. Right now we don’t know what’s in front of us. Or when. But we can’t wait.

In his new fortnightly column, The Dad Diaries, first-time father Edwin McGreal will chart the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.