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On the edge


Diary of a first-time dad
Edwin McGreal

If they have a caller ID function in the Achill Sound Surgery, I’d say they grimace every time they see my number or my wife’s coming up.
As first-time parents, we are far too easily worried by anything out of the ordinary our baby Frankie does.
Some of the first few nights at home were sleepless, though not for Frankie, as we worried about different noises she was making in her sleep. We’re usually both very heavy sleepers, but we would wake in an instant and sit bolt upright if we heard so much as a gurgle from her.
When we sought medical advice, we were rightly told to relax – if your baby is asleep, be grateful for it was the gist of it.
Since then, it seems every day presents a different concern. Sometimes it might be that she’s not sleeping during the day, other times it might be that she’s sleeping too long.
Although, in the latter case, I was able to reassure my wife: Frankie takes after her father when it comes to sleep. When I was a baby, my mother was worried about the fact that I would go to sleep at 7pm and often not wake until midday the following day.
Her visit to Dr Jimmy Broderick in Balla was met with laughter. “Mary Rose, you don’t realise the amount of mothers who would be delighted to have that problem. Enjoy it,” he counselled.
It seems it goes with the territory that first-time parents are especially on edge with every little problem or perceived problem with their child.
During Frankie’s spell in hospital in the first days of her life, we were on first-name terms with all the midwives in the Labour and Maternity wards in Mayo University Hospital. They must have been sick of all our questions. We pretty much did the equivalent of plugging in a USB and downloading every bit of knowledge they had.
But they could not have been more helpful. It has become a cliché to hear how great midwives and nurses are. You appreciate why clichés are so often true when you observe them minding your precious new born child. No query was too bizarre for them, no matter how busy they were, they always took their time with you and never rushed away.
The challenge of leaving the hospital to take full-time care of your newborn was less daunting thanks to their wonderful care and attention.
And that has followed on with all our dealings with doctors, public health nurses, surgery nurses and outpatient hospital staff.
But we think we’re close to breaking them! Last year, the HSE launched a campaign advising people to go to their local GP or on call doctor for a range of problems, rather than clogging up accident and emergency departments unnecessarily.
I reckon after the last two months, the doctors and nurses in Achill Sound may well start a similar campaign urging people to consult Google before feeling the necessity to phone their local GP.

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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