Two weeks of fatherhood

Paternity leave is far too short in the UK. These first two weeks of Emily’s life have zipped by in a joyous frenzy of activity, getting used our new daughter, and continuing to prep the house for her (and for us!).

Here’s a whirlwind tour of the main action.

1. The birth (or: Hippo no more)

32 hours of labour, punctuated with a trip home, as many baths as Amanda could manage, a lot of Nitrous, a birthing pool, a few corridor meet-ups with NCT buddies, some considerable anxiety, pain and a trip to the operating theatre for an assisted birth later… Emily arrived. Say what you want about the NHS, the midwives were *amazing*. My only gripe was that the doctors, when they made their appearance, assumed we were teenage parents with no understanding of medicine, the risks or benefits of various procedures, or any interest in having things explained to us (when it came to the 30th hour of labour and we had to move to theatre) – as opposed to the ER-watching hypochondriac and trained Occupational Therapist that we actually are (guess which of us is which).

Amanda’s reaction on seeing Emily was priceless – enormous happiness and relief compounded by jaw-dropping surprise that she was a girl! Everyone – other than me right at the start of Amanda’s pregnancy – was convinced that Emily would be a boy due to the size and shape of her as a bump. The wisdom of Amanda’s cousins in Denmark (including at least one fertility expert!) didn’t pick up on it either! We are thrilled regardless, as Emily, other than having dry skin, has so far been completely healthy, which is all we really wanted.

Emily’s full name is Emily Maya Kingsmill David – Maya after my mother, Kingsmill from Amanda’s father’s family, and David for my clan. Emily – just ‘cos we like it as a name and think it suits her.

2. The newborn routine (eat, play, sleep, snooze, poo repeat)

We’ve had two hour intervals between feeds, which roughly corresponds to a poop and a change as well. These are lengthening in daytime now, and Emily seems to be feeding well. I’ve gotten completely used to changing her now – although not quite got the knack of getting the room temperature right – she’s a heat bunny and fusses noisily when she’s too cold. ‘Fussing’ is a new verb for us but think, whether or not it is common parlance, that all parents will know what I’m talking about….

A particularly enjoyable routine for me is giving her an oil massage to help with her dry skin – if the room is warm enough, she quite enjoys this and whilst she’s not yet at a point where she’s smiling, if she’s awake enough she takes a lovely wide-eyed look at the room and quietly lets Daddy rub the olive oil in to sort out her skin. It’s adorable.

3. Activities (or the great smile vs. gas debate)

She’s not really doing much yet, other than eating, pooing and sleeping, and early ‘smiles’ are almost certainly just gas. That said, she’s still proving vastly entertaining with the baby reflex actions – looking around with her big curious eyes, grabbing onto fingers, requiring burping when violent hiccups kick in after meals (they don’t hurt babies, apparently!) and so on. I really enjoy her headbobbing and tai-chi maneuvering whilst asleep too – amazing. Amanda is also taking pleasure in having her very own live ‘Barbie doll’ – dressing Emily up to the nines whenever the occasion calls for it.

Today she’s gone on her first date, with an older man – fellow NCT baby Arthur who has 12 days to Emily’s 11! Potterytastic.

4. Friends and family (make the world go around)

Have been amazing. We have strings of cards and many wonderful gifts for her, including her first two dresses (not knowing what we were expecting we obviously didn’t buy any in advance!), visits from her uncles and her aunt, near daily Skype video calls to Grandma and Grandpa in Malaysia and regular visits from Granny and Uncle Dylan (Granny’s dog), and flowers from work colleagues, clients and friends abroad. We’ve had vast support from friends and family on Facebook too, with advice, encouragement and well-wishes pouring in much faster than we can respond to it.

Dylan hasn’t quite figured out what to make of Emily yet, but he’ll get there. Think he knows he needs to protect her, which is an excellent start! Unfortunately he also wants to lick her face, but he’ll get to do that in time, so all is well with the world.

All in all, it’s been a frenetic few weeks. Moving to the country, running my first half-marathon, turning 30, celebrating my first wedding anniversary at the same time as having my daughter arrive in the world – not to mention ludicrous busy at work – in more or less chronological order. I’m at a wonderful point now, sitting in my house with sunshine streaming in both the front and back windows whilst my girls snooze peacefully whilst I record a few passing reflections on the amazing wonder that is my life.