Seven weeks ago today my wife gave birth to a small human that she had baked inside her own body. In my opinion, no other human achievement could come close, “Oh, so you found a cure for cancer? That’s pathetic! My wife created a human and she doesn’t even have a science degree!” “You understand what happened in Interstellar? That’s quite impressive! But my wife grew a baby with her body and now feeds that baby with her body. And she’s somehow still alive.”
Can you imagine what life would be like if Dads gave birth? I’m pretty sure that 20% of us would be dead by the end of the first trimester, 50% by the end of the second, 95% shortly after labour and 100% after the first breast feed (which happens shortly after labour). Humanity would be doomed. And can you imagine the moaning? It’d be a hundred times worse than Man-flu. Man-pregnancy. Yikes. It makes me feel relieved that my role in the growth period was short (in comparison to 9 months) and pleasurable.
Fortunately, I can be much more involved in my son’s post-uterine existence. Oh yes. He’s still at the age where he loves cuddles. And by that I mean he’s still at the age where he has no choice and cannot escape cuddles, unlike my eldest, who is surprisingly fast for a 2 year-old.
There’s a big difference between being a Dad for the second time as opposed to it happening the first. Mainly, your expectations are lower. You don’t expect to sleep for longer than one hour for the first month, so it’s a pleasant surprise when you hit the total of TWO hours over that same time period.
The big danger, though, is that you get complacent, “Oh, don’t worry about me. This is baby number two. I know exactly what I’m doing!” And this leads to being over-confident, taking unnecessary risks and getting embarassed. I realised this one day as I was changing my newborn’s nappy and had a hose-like stream of excrement flood onto my hand. This never happened with baby numero uno. You see, as a new Dad I was quite diligent and cautious about things, such as immediately replacing the old nappy with the new so as to contain the inevitable mess. This was because I was clueless and didn’t want anything to go wrong.
Then that child survived and I got cocky. I started thinking, “It’s ok, I’ll just leave this puny human who is only good at eating, puking and crapping at surprisingly high velocity nappy-less for a dangerous length of time. I know what I’m doing now. That paranoid nappy technique is for noobs.” Or maybe I too like to live dangerously (I sometimes go two months without a hair cut).
Since that, and other, such incidents my confidence has dwindled with the result that I’ve been taking fewer risks and now have hands that don’t always smell of my baby’s nappy contents. Long live caution and clean hands!