My wife, in typically stoic fashion, returned to work just six weeks after giving birth to our first son. Back then, Sarah was manager of a group home for two Down’s adults on the outskirts of Swansea, so had to do shifts, which included sleep-ins.
I was working as a part-time lecturer at the local college and also as an ad hoc draftsman for an engineering company in Llandeilo. This meant I was out three days of the week, but home every evening. I spent the other days renovating our house which we had moved in to just six months before Evan joined us.
To say I was inexperienced at parenting would have been accurate. As an only child I’d never had to look after siblings, and was only recently an uncle by marriage to two nieces and a nephew. I’d held their sticky hands to cross roads a couple of times and once held another friend’s baby for a few minutes, but that was it. When Sarah left for work I was quietly panicking.
My mum had died only four months before Evan was born, Sarah’s mother lived in Spain, and my nearest Auntie was twenty miles away, so we had little family around us to help out. I’d had plenty of advice at work to be fair, the most “useful” of which came from the company accountant. An experienced father, he took me to one side when he heard the news about our new son.
A new baby I hear, congratulations!
Does he cry much?
A bit, yes.
I’ve got three kids, don’t worry. Just put him in a drawer and shut it.
Yes. Doesn’t stop them crying, but you can’t hear them any more. A filing cabinet is best, you can lock those too.
Very helpful, fair play, thanks Keith. I never tried it, despite being sorely tempted a couple of times with our second son a few years later.
The first night of going solo came far too soon, although it started OK.
After Sarah left at around 4.30 I fed Evan without any mishap. Another friend had told me of his first experience of feeding his daughter breakfast. His wife had gone out shopping leaving him with a high chair, a firmly strapped-in toddler and a bowl of tepid weetabix. He’d confidently wrapped a bib around her neck and set-to with the plastic spoon. When…