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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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Diary of a First Time Dad: We've got company!

Our baby girl is a week old and my wife and I are settling into life as parents after exhausting Plans A to Z.

Patrick McCarry

I WILL START off with the good news — Caitlin McCarry performed her version of the Shawshank Redemption tunnel crawl and joined us at 9:11pm last Wednesday evening.

Myself and my wife, Cat, are a week into our new jobs as parents and have quickly realised that time, for these crucial first few weeks, is not linear. Five rooms in our house have billboard obvious signs that there is a baby on the scene and the rest of the rooms are teetering on the brink.

I watched an episode of Rules of Engagement at 4:45am this morning as an obliging Caitlin ticked the boxes ‘fed, pooed and winded’. A mini, week-long birthday celebration will take place this evening and I’m already eyeing up my daughter’s slice of the cake.

Zero Dark Thirty

The waters broke just before 6am on Sunday morning but Caitlin arrived 87 hours later as she was quite content in her snug little home. Cramps, which we assumed were contractions, followed that evening but had subsided by the next morning.

We had been advised at an antenatal class not to rush into the hospital if the waters broke and to wait until the contractions were strong and regular. Assuming Cat had experienced some leaking of waters and a false labour, we got on with a Monday that, looking back, was regular and bizarre.

I mowed the garden as Cat finalised the bag pack and we headed over to IKEA to look for a changing table. It was my first visit to the furniture superstore and I was talked out of the lazy, hotdog lunch option as we wheeled our flat-packed chest of drawers through the cavernous Raiders of the Lost Ark-style warehouse.

YouTube credit: Andrew Gradman

That evening, we settled in to watch Jessica Chastain and Kyle Chandler (the unassuming go-to guy for big movies) chase down Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty. The cramps, which may well have been Braxton Hicks contractions, started again and we readied for an early morning dash to the hospital.

Again, by morning, the pains had subsided. A call was made to the hospital and Cat was told ‘come in today and you will be admitted’. The call was made, at Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise, to keep Cat in, supply antibiotics for the baby and to kick the wheel of inducing cheese down the hill that evening. I left the hospital at 11pm that night but the train was in motion by my return the next morning.

We realised, during Cat and Caitlin’s stay, that every labour is its own story and that what may seem extraordinary for the expectant parents is ordinary for the staff involved.

My wife, throughout, was remarkable and we owe a debt of gratitude to all the staff involved, especially the midwife, who stayed well after her shift finished (on her birthday) to give her support until the big arrival. Hopefully, she got home in time for late-night birthday cake. Cat and I enjoyed the best sugary tea we’ve ever had in our lives.

‘Daddy Paddy’

Breastfeeding has taken almost a week to click with the two wee lassies but the harmony is growing. We needed to supplement for the first few days to build Caitlin up but, using my mother’s phrase, she now knows where her bread is buttered.

imageWe have yet to decide on a middle name but my suggestion — Caitlin Lily Brunswick Pepperwill McCarry — has been vetoed.

Another mother, Cat’s, has been a lifesaver for us. She has taken up residence at ours for a few days to help us get settled, and fed, and spend time with her first grandchild. The rest of our immediate family have been fantastic and are all fascinated with the new arrival.

As for me, I dressed up for each day Cat and Caitlin were in hospital (I wanted to appear Dad-ly) but I have yet to be visited by the Responsibility Fairy. I was the only Dad in our seven-bed ward to bring in a laptop to watch Leinster v Ospreys, in the Heineken Cup, on Saturday night.

The other incident that confirmed this was when I robbed the end of Cat’s cheesecake after dinner. As the loquacious dinner ladies were doing the rounds to pick up the cutlery, and not wanting to be exposed before the curtains were pulled open, I made a grab for the final, creamy bite but dropped it on my lap.

That’s what I call setting a good example.

PS: Free GP care for children aged five and under? That’s a timely little bonus.

What are your memories of your first week with your newborn? Tip sharing is most welcome!

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Diary of a First Time Dad: Early arrivals, packing bags and last hurrahs

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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