Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Inara Prusakova via Shutterstock

Diary of a First Time Dad Joy, queasiness, and getting through an Irish wedding unrumbled

My wife and I talked abstractly about having children one day – but our baby obviously had plans of its own. Now, we’re handling the joy and challenges of pregnancy and impending parenthood, writes Patrick McCarry.

MY WIFE AND I were married just over four months before we discovered we were expecting our first child.

There was no grand plan behind it all but, as we know couples that are still trying for children and others that need only look at each other to plant the seed, our logic was ‘Ah, we’ll see how we go’.

The closest myself and Cat, my wife, came to a full-on discussion about it was on a ski-trip to Germany and Austria back in February. In a beer-hall in Munich, on our first night of the break away, we agreed, over a heavy-handled beer, that having children would be splendid. We would enjoy married life for a year before getting started on our family [two kids for me, three for Cat -- I don't know where she plans on getting the third from].

Looking back now, I shudder at the words we used that night. ‘We’re ready to evolve as a couple’, ‘I think I’d make a great Dad’, ‘I’ll send him/her off to tennis camp at four and reap the rewards’ [all me, admittedly].

“To our family,” we proclaimed with a clink of the beer glasses. Little did we know, at the time, that our baby was three weeks into a slalom of its own.

One ski for skiing. That's how I roll. (Credit: Adam Sarson - Facebook)

"I'm pregnant"

By the end of our trip, Cat had an inkling that she might be pregnant. Upon our arrival home, we drove to the nearest pharmacy and she ran inside to get a home pregnancy kit. It was a strange sensation, for me, sitting in the car, engine running [don't ask why] and feeling like a getaway driver. Cat emerged from the front door, two minutes later, and shook the SWAG/paper bag containing a pregnancy kit in the air. We peeled away, straight back to the house.

I endured another wait downstairs and Cat took the test. Minutes passed and I resisted the temptation to knock on Sky Sports News. "Paddy," a tremulous voice called from upstairs, "I'm pregnant."

The sensation was  mix of sheer joy, nervous energy and queasiness. We sat on the sofa for a while, turned to look at each other every now and then, posed for a selfie [naturally] to capture the moment, and hugged. "Well, what next?" asked Cat. My immediate, genuine response was this: "I dunno. Do we... keep the pee stick, you know, as a memento?"

Lesson No. 1 of being a new Dad: Don't keep the pee stick.

(Credit: Shutterstock)

Trying to keep our news under wraps

A trip to a local doctor and a text, which read 'Blood test is positive. Congradulation' (sic), was our confirmation. Parents aside, we opted not to reveal our news until after our first scan. That meant we would have to get through an Irish wedding, in March, with Cat pretending to drink. I never knew previously that this was a thing. In Ireland, it is.

Books, online forums and websites were consulted as Cat sought the solution not to arouse suspicion by not drinking. Headaches and fake illnesses are popular excuses, we discovered, while one person went so far as to buy beer with twist off caps, dump the frothy content and replace it with non-alcoholic beer.

Our stroke of genius was to pretend we were both drinking Budweiser [brown bottles = harder to see through] and switch my near empties for her fulls. This is how the strategy played out for me, around 3am...

... on this guy's shoulders, swaying to AC/DC.

One error-strewn trip to the hospital

We're now up to Week 26 and have been helped no-end by advice from family, friends, a great GP in Naas, a small library of books [Cat reads, I browse] and phone apps such as Baby Bump and What to Expect.

My wife is handling the pregnancy with the class and grace I knew she would. Her forms of exercise are regular walks and aqua aerobics. She took to watching 'One Born Every Minute' for a while but has eased off and returned to regular viewing of Breaking Bad and Saturday Kitchen.

We had one zany, error-strewn trip to the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, for our first scan. Two months to find out where it was and we both had the day off work, yet we overshot our M7 turn-off by four exits, 40 kilometres, and two toll bridges, only to arrive 30 minutes late but forgiven by the staff. It was the first time I truly worried about the arrival of our baby. 'If we can't manage this on our own,' I thought, 'how are we going to cope with a child?'

An axis-tilter is on the way

The scan came after Week 17 and the next is not until Week 30, in early August. The lack of hospital contact shocked me at first. I had assumed that, especially with a couple expecting their first child, there would be monthly contact and our letterbox would be breached on a daily basis with 'How To' pamphlets. However, as my brother-in-law succinctly put it, "It might be your first but it's not theirs."

We've been lucky so far, all is healthy and on track. We are learning a little more each week yet know an axis-tilter is on the way.

I would love to know -- parents to be and those already in the club -- what your experiences have been. Tips, advice or anecdotes would be most welcome. Most importantly, how did you solve the non-drinking at a wedding dilemma?

Patrick McCarry is sports reporter and rugby correspondent for Playwright of shows that have appeared at Vicar Street, Electric Picnic, Bulmers Comedy Festival and New Zealand Comedy Festival. Dubliner, living in Kildare. Happily married for 9 months and counting.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.