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How did we forget all of this?


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

We were continuously amazed by the amount of relatives and friends who said ‘Wow, you forget how small they are!’ when they saw our firstborn, Frankie, for the first time.
Many of their own kids were still in national school, or younger still, and the size of our newborn babe startled them. (And, at eight pounds, five ounces, Frankie was a decent size.)
We wondered how they could forget the size of newborns given what a special moment it is in your life. Could that stage really be such a blur to them?
Now I get it.
Frankie is not even two years old, but the first few weeks with her feel like a lifetime ago.
Two years ago we were so green. We had no clue what was coming, so we read up as much as we could, and asked enough questions of other parents to exhaust all known favours.
We weren’t worried in the last few weeks of Eamon’s pregnancy. We were not sure what was around the corner and it felt like we had forgotten most of what we learned early doors with Frankie – but it would all come flashing back, surely?
Some of it but a lot of it is still a blur. Sleep patterns, winding, feeding time – and that’s just myself and Aisling!
Still, while we might be addled with lack of sleep, we’re not near as easily stressed as we were the first time around.
The first few days with Frankie were some experience. I was petrified of holding her, and so was Aisling. I remember a mother of multiple kids in the Maternity Ward being able to pick up her son from the cot and barely breaking stride.
We were beyond delicate with Frankie, whereas now it is second nature. Maybe that’s where the phrase comes from: Second time round and it feels natural.
I won’t lie though, the nappy changing is something that I find much harder this time around.
I was changing Frankie before she left the hospital, but I still dread any time I’m called on to change Éamon. It takes longer for a boy, for one, and then there’s the ever-present risk of a fountain coming your way. It is one sure-fire way to test your reaction speeds.
The feeds and the sleeping routines are the hardest to master. After all it is hard to know what a newborn baby wants when, oftentimes, they don’t even know themselves.
So there’s a lot of trial and error. But when a good plan comes together and everyone is asleep when they should be, a rare bliss comes over the house.
Because in the newborn stage, while you might forget how small they are, you are not long being reminded of how they run the show.

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


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