5 Ways The Baby Has Changed My Life
“A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love is unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.”
― Ama H. Vanniarachchy
I always dreamed of having a family of my own. I would sit and think about me, my wife, my children, and how we would live life together. For most of my life I craved a family I could call my own.
Whenever I would go out, whether it was the mall, or the theatre, or the grocery store I would watch families and observe how they interacted with each other. I would watch how the parents played with their children, how the children played with each other. They always seemed so happy together, even when the child was out of control and the mother was trying to gain control, she always looked content.
But of course I was looking through this particular part of life through rose-colored glasses. I was also blind to the children who ran around unattended wreaking havoc. Of course I would have to discover this on my own . . . and I did eventually!
But as I reached my 40th birthday I started to think my quest for a family may not materialize. When I reached my 50th birthday, I had to face the fact I most likely won’t have a family. Was it just a pipe dream?
One day my wife came to me and said she “needed to talk to me.” I thought maybe she needed money. I thought maybe something was broken and needed to be replaced. When I sat down, my wife’s news was that she was pregnant.
I said “no way. I was too old.” I was 51 at this time.
For nine months I put up with my wife’s sickness and demands, her mood swings and her raging hormones. I knew this was the price I would have to pay to get my family started, but that was fine. Although she suffered and her life had changed (more than mine did,) after the birth of my daughter, it was time for my life to change whether I wanted it to or not.
The little things I took for granted I missed, the things which I didn’t really give much thought to I couldn't quite thinking about, and the basic things in life became complicated. They were now unimportant and the family took precedent in my life.
I’ve become unbothered by vomit or poo.
I’ve had dogs my whole life and had to clean up poo before, but not that often because my dogs were well-trained. I’ve had to clean dog vomit up more frequently than poo but I understood when the dog vomited the dog was usually ill, so it never really bothered me much.
But when the baby came, I was changing diapers every day; I experienced poo many times than during the years I owned dogs. At first I couldn’t believe how someone as small as a baby and only a few months old could make so much poo, especially when the baby’s diet consisted of just milk. And the consistency!
The poo never was solid, at least not for the first year or so. It was in so many different consistency and smells, always bad. It didn’t matter how many times I changed a “crappy nappy,” I could never get used to the smell.
And don’t forget about the burping and the messes on your clothes … especially the shoulders. What about the projectile vomiting? Not an issue any more.
Now, cleaning poo or vomit has become second nature.
I’m a morning person now.
I’ve worked night jobs for many, many years. I’ve worked the midnight shift where I got off in the early hours of the morning. Because of this, I unwittingly have given up my rights to being a morning person, I usually get up around noon and my most productive hours are the evenings and late nights.
All this changed when the baby was born. I am up early in the mornings whether I want to or not. The baby has replaced my alarm clock. It’s as if I have a broken alarm clock which keeps going off… and there is no snooze button.
“The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.”
― Antoine François Prévost, Manon Lescaut
There’s no more sleeping late (which I enjoyed on my days off), it’s up when the baby dictates. Whether it’s my day off or I’ve just worked a long shift, I’m up early in the morning.
I can survive on 3 hours of sleep a night… whether I want to or not.
I love to sleep. It is my favorite hobby and sleep comes before everything else… even eating, at times. What I enjoyed the most about my days off was getting to go to bed early and sleeping late. I’d crawl under all my sheets and duvet, with the many pillows my wife has on the bed, and snooze. Sleeping for 10 or 12 hours was usual for me on at least one of my days off a week… but no more.
I’m up at least every three hours whether I actually feed have to feed the baby or my wife feeds the baby, either way I’m awake. And the baby cries like clockwork, every three hours.
The baby demands attention and gets it. I wish people listened to me like every one listens to her… and she can’t even talk yet.
I eat standing up and in shifts.
Eating is a sport now.
Our table gets very little attention anymore. It is just a place to collect clutter. I’ve found that I eat more standing or leaning against the counter than before. Many times, I am eating while holding the baby.
Most of the time I have to stop eating for a few minutes or even for up to an hour or more. Me and the wife do not eat together anymore. I eat while she watches the baby and when I’m finished she eats.
I’ve gotten used to eating leftovers more frequently now (which wasn’t a big deal, some food is better as a leftover). Sometimes it’s just quicker to cook enough food in order to have leftovers. The microwave has become the most used appliance in our kitchen now.
I miss hot food.
Just going out for a moment is a big deal.
Going out for a quick trip to the grocery store used to be something I could do on a whim. I could just run out of the house in a t-shirt and track pants, with a pair of flip flops on and a hat to cover my unruly hair. “Oops, I’m out of milk, let me run to the store quickly.” All I need to take with me was my keys, my phone, and my debit card. No more quick runs to the store now.
A quick run now consists of dressing the baby, taking the baby carriage, and the diaper bag if I am alone or the wife is alone. And, there may be accidents along the way. The trip may be halted for a diaper change or for a quick feeding if the baby gets off schedule.
A trip which may take 15 minutes can now take an hour… if I’m lucky.
Those dreams I had of having a family of my own certainly was lacking in reality. Eating standing up, or cleaning poo and vomit, as well as losing sleep surely wasn’t part of my dreams. But reality is much better than the dreams.
This post originally was printed on the Huffington Post on February 14th 2016 where I’m a guest writer.