The question I’ve been asked the most since Quinn’s birth is, “what’s it like to be a dad”… since the days immediately after her arrival right up to today, her six month birthday, I’ve always answered the same way… “Amazing, incredible, she’s beautiful, it’s the best thing”, because for me it is and if that sounds cliché, well that’s because it is… because really what else can you say?
I’ve been pretty open with anyone that has asked but equally I don’t always want to tell you that I have no idea what I’m doing or that I’m constantly worrying about making mistakes, or that Quinn won’t like me. Likewise I’ve never said that at times you can feel a bit of a 3rd wheel.
I’ve never been a particularly insecure person, but it’s natural to want to feel important to your new baby, for her to bond with you the same way she does with her mum.
It’s not without its own complications but there is a special connection between mum and baby even before they arrive. Sian had carried Quinn for nearly 39 weeks and I watched on as she coped brilliantly with all the demands of our daughter growing inside her. Then in the hours and days immediately after her arrival it was important for the two of them to spend time sharing skin to skin contact to reinforce this bond. I remember sitting at the side of Sian’s hospital bed watching the two of them sleep a few hours into Quinn’s life and being struck by the love I felt for both of them but also unsure of what I was supposed to do for our baby. Since then Sian has been Quinn’s sole source of food and the two of them have spent almost every hour of every day together. Watching the two of them grow together has been a privilege and it’s obvious that Quinn absolutely adores her mummy; recently she’s even started looking for her when she leaves the room.
Since day one I’ve felt that bond with Quinn but especially since going back to work I feel like I miss out on a lot. I know that it isn’t all fun and games for Sian looking after her alone during the day but I do miss not being there and I worry that because my time with Quinn is limited to evenings, weekends and holidays she won’t feel the same bond with me.
Sian has been brilliant in understanding this, in truth she probably did even before I fully did. She’s been really supportive in allowing me to make the most of the time I’m with them and equally encouraging that I have my own roles and moments with Quinn.
Something which Quinn and I have always shared is bath time. It was really the first thing that we did that was just mine and hers and thankfully from the start she’s loved it. Actually that’s not quite true, she wasn’t a big fan of the baby bath seat as the water barely covered her feet and bum, so instead I would hold her lying on her back in the big bath, which she loved! Now she’s six months she can sit in there or her inflatable duck bath and play with her toys. And it’s not just about the time in the bath, getting her dried and dressed is a big game, we sing and play silly games like peekaboo and she really likes being dried with a hairdryer. So much so she used to get upset when it was all over.
Because bath times were so successful I started taking Quinn swimming and in recent weeks we have started baby swim lessons together. We go as a family as Sian comes and watches us, and as soon as we get there Quinn gets really excited because she can see the pool and the class before ours from the viewing area. In our class there are four other babies and Quinn is now at the stage where she is very interested in them, this week holding hands with another baby whilst we were waiting to go in.
In the lessons we are taught different ways of safely holding our babies in the water. Quinn much prefers being on her front swimming after a ball than lying on her back, except for when she forgets to hold her head up and gulps in the water.
Like a lot of baby classes we sing nursery rhymes and use repeated actions and instructions to encourage our babies to do different things. At the moment Quinn is learning to kick her legs (which she does like a frog) and splash her hands, but usually she gets distracted by the other babies splashing. We’re also learning to hold onto the side of the pool and this week jumping in which Quinn found very funny. Quinn’s also a big fan of row, row, row the boat as she gets to fall backwards into the water at the end and although she was unsure at first this week she’s much more comfortable going under the water.
Quinn’s learning so much but for me the best thing is that we get to enjoy spending time together having fun just the two of us, (and that we go and eat out afterwards!).
So what’s it like to be a dad… it is all those cliché things and sometimes it’s not. I’m just like anyone else I get tired, grumpy, and jealous and changing a nappy is not the first thing I want to do when I get home from work. Sometimes I run out of ideas when we’re playing and Quinn’s looking at me like what now?
For me being a dad is like having two jobs, one vastly more important and enjoyable than the other one but both requiring a lot of hard work. My day job and the other which involves a lot of nappies, playing games, singing, comforting, baths, swimming, bed times and blog posts in order to build the strongest bond I can with Quinn.