A long time in parenthood

It was Harold Wilson who said “a week is a long time in politics”. Well, it’s a pretty long time in the world of parenthood too.

Today is Toby’s one-week ‘birthday’, and already the circumstances of his sudden arrival are starting to feel slightly surreal. (We have joked about marking the spot on the living room floor where he was delivered with a ceremonial ‘X’. Me, I’d go for one of those round plaques you see on the side of famous people’s homes.)

Apparently, in certain circles I am now unofficially ‘Superdad’ or alternatively ‘The Coolest Dad In Town’ (I’m thinking about filing for the latter as a personal trademark). I have to admit, though, I don’t feel particularly super; I’ve certainly never been cool. In fact, looking back, the sum total of my achievements appears to be (a) I was there, (b) I didn’t pass out and (c) I didn’t drop Toby. So, I wasn’t down the pub, I stayed awake and I am overqualified to play cricket for England. Hey, if people think that’s cool or super, then who am I to question them?

So, what’s happened this week while I’ve been at home with my feet up? (Yeah, right, ha ha.)

Well, Toby has taken to breast-feeding like a real natural, eating for England at every possible opportunity, a trait clearly inherited from his dad. (I’m thinking about putting a vending machine in his room.) He also seems to have settled into a three-hourly routine during the night, which is good news. He seems pretty bright and alert too; he is certainly awake for more of the day than Isaac was at a week old.

You talking to me?

Speaking of whom, Zac has taken everything in his stride reasonably well. Given that he’s always been a real mummy’s boy, he doesn’t seem too jealous for the most part (although he keeps demanding a cuddle whenever he sees Toby being fed) and he’s even being quite helpful at times. When Toby cries, Zac will wander over to the crib, peer in, say “Toby’s crying. I’ll sort it”, and then give it a rock. Quite cute, really. He might get a bit more antsy once I’m back at work next week and he can no longer demand both our attentions, but he’s doing okay.

Heather is understandably tired but seems to be recovering well, and managing the sudden transition back to night feeds without too much trouble. She’s certainly pleased to be able to see her feet and tie her own shoelaces again. And it has helped that she has had a steady stream of friends coming to visit too.

Finally, me. I’m having a really good time. Other than finishing a few bits and pieces, I’ve been able to take my mind off work and actually enjoy my paternity leave. I’ve been able to spend some quality time with Zac – well, I appreciate it, I’m not so sure he does – taking him to playgroup sessions a couple of times and generally keeping him out of Heather’s hair. Being home during the day also means I have time to indulge in proper cooking – a saltimbocca last night, and I’ll be hand-making gnocchi tonight – in between all the household chores. (How can one small baby get through so many clothes in one day?) And I’ve even had the chance to start catching up on my large collection of unread books and unwatched TV programmes.

Just chilling with my dad

All in all, it has been about as smooth a first week as we could have ever hoped for.

What’s next? Well, I don’t go back to work until Thursday week, so we’re hoping to get out and about a bit more over the next week. We’re taking Toby down to see Heather’s mum for the first time tomorrow, then hopefully the three of us (minus Zac, who will be in nursery) will head into Oxford for lunch on Thursday. And then I’ve got dinners to plan, and photos to sort out, and …

It’s a busy time, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.