She’s now becoming a bubbling ball of delight, but the strain of dealing with parenthood, returning to work, and watching the world burn has turned me into a gibbering wreck.
There are so many worries I had about parenthood. They all came to a head and contributed to my trip to the COVID ward.
What if I don’t feel that outpouring of love everyone talks about? What if something goes wrong in labour? What if it’s just flat out awful?
Now I’ve faced them all. I felt the love. When my wife was whisked off to be sown up I confronted my biggest fear of losing her and being left with an inferior, infinitely more needy copy. My expectation for the first six weeks was so low that even when the screams were ringing in my ears at 3am it was manageable.
So why don’t I feel much better?
I’ve always hated the “Anxiety” word. But I’ve never experienced anything as strong as this. A very real feeling emanating from my stomach outwards, and sometimes taking over my whole body. Thankfully I’m able to keep control now I know what it is and that it’s not some horrendous blood disease caused by giving plasma, or the bogey man itself… Coronavirus. I can’t imagine how crazy I’d be if we hadn’t caught it early, and passed the anti-bodies onto our pride and joy.
We’ve got to two months and I’ve been left with the realisation the phrase “New Normal” means something very different to me than the rest of the country. A brand new status quo, that there’s no point fighting. I’m sure it would be much easier if we hadn’t lost almost everything we enjoyed. I’m sure these bursts of nervous energy are just from sitting on the couch for so long. The pangs I feel whenever we venture out again just a powerful feeling of excitement at being able to meet people again.
When things finally do go back to normal I promise I won’t ever complain about feeling tired or lacking energy again. I had non idea I was expending so much doing the 9 to 5 commuter rush.
But it’s deeply frustrating I will never know what this experience would have been like without a global pandemic. If I’d have coped any better, at such a major life event. The First Child. Would I have dealt with it better without everything else happening?
“The One With The Dirty Nappies”
Rather than a big breakdown, Joey is pursuing his big break with a journey to Vegas, baby!
It’s a great excuse to hop in Phoebe’s taxi again. For a whopping THIRTY EIGHT hour drive. I missed driving so much during the lockdown. And now I finally have an excuse to go places I can barely stand more than half an hour in the car… Sorry, positive thoughts, positive thoughts.
The taxi first cropped up at the start of jolly old 2017. And again, the notorious time Friends™ inspired me to get a tattoo. It was last seen when I was banging on about getting Zen and simply letting things wash over me.
Maybe I was less OK with that than I thought? Parenthood is the biggest manifestation of loss of control. My whole life is now defined by the desires of another. And I’ve got to look out for what my baby wants too! (Thank you, thank you, no really, I love the wife, tip your waitress etc).
Perhaps I’ve just had too much of a good thing? That glimpse of what life could be like if I didn’t have to work, didn’t have any responsibilities to anyone, didn’t have any social engagements to keep.
I got so used to having control again I’ve forgot how to cope with not having control. I drove to visit people at work the other day, and half way there needed the toilet. The next half hour was hell! It’s ridiculous. Only half an hour, but I’ve got so used to being able to pee whenever I want that being stuck in a car sent me into a spiral of mortifying thoughts.
I had the same problem when we finally got to meet our NCT friends.
A lovely day, finally going back to the pub, but “uh oh” meeting new people is a little scary isn’t it? And, my god it’s hot, I better just get a glass of water before they arrive. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I NEED TO DOWNLOAD AN APP, WITH NO WIFI. God if I was at home I’d have drunk the water by now AND wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.
But anyway… I’m managing, how are you? I think taking control in little ways is helping, and remembering that it’s OK to surrender myself to things I can’t control. It’s worked thus far?
Meeting the NCT people was nice actually. We had the usual discussions you do when you first meet people. What’s your job? How did you meet? Have you tried the breastmilk?
I’ve yet to succumb. As much as I hate being like Ross, I just can’t bring myself to do it. My main fear is enjoying it a bit TOO much. Yet, whenever I tell people this my wife laughs it off. She’s blissfully unaware how far my depravity has gone since the last time I had a boob in my mouth. One of the NCT dads told us he tried some, in a moment of desperation after running out of milk for his coffee!
I’ve stopped drinking coffee. As part of my coping strategy, not out of disgust. One day archaeologists will look back, see a time where Coffee Shops springing up all over the place coincided with a wave of anxiety sweeping the nation and draw their own conclusions. Maybe this is why New Yorker’s are so neurotic?
It turns out I don’t actually need all that caffeine if I’m not walking three hours a day to get to work and back. Who knew? If the Friends™ took things a little slower maybe they wouldn’t have to blow all their money on expensive coffee. They could even afford to get their own place! Just one less avocado a week…
The last time the Friends™ took the taxi they were heading off on a Ski Trip. God I can’t wait to go on one of those! As lady luck should have it, my wife is also planning a trip to Vegas. Not to pursue her big break. I think she just wants to get away from me.
I wouldn’t blame her, despite all I said last week it must be damn hard being stuck with someone else constantly. Especially when they’re always grumpy, and all you want is to enjoy your first child. In an effort to keep things interesting we’ve been talking about our dreams more. The baby alarm clock has actually been really good for getting us some nice time together in the morning. A lovely cup of (decaffeinated) tea. Please hold the breast milk.
A dream turns out to be the reason Phoebe hates Ross all of a sudden. But Phoebe, there are so many great reasons to choose from…
She’s developed a solid method for finding out what people really think, asking quick Either/Or questions, and discovers Joey would rather bang Monica than Rachel? Ah, isn’t this the age old question for the male Friends™ viewer? Like Joey, I’m definitely more into Monica than Rachel this time around. Especially seeing the way she gets on top of Rachel. Now that’s what I call surrendering control.
Rachel’s need for eye drops reminds me, I really need to get an eye test. I could do with some smaller glasses that don’t steam up with a mask. She’s really a bit pathetic. Even our baby dealt with her vaccinations better than this! I imagine baby felt similar to Joey finding out the movie’s cancelled after his trip across America. All the excitement of being played with, meeting a nice doctor, and then betrayed and stuck with a needle.
At least she could come home after and didn’t have to take up work in a shady casino to get by whilst the Director tries to get more funding. It’s cool that the show never shies away from showing the horrors of trying to make it in the acting profession. Even as the actors themselves are now paid a whopping $100,000 an episode!
Real Live Sitcom Moment:
One of the cool things about having a baby is realising some things end up a lot easier than you expect, and some a lot harder.
I’d never changed a nappy before, but shortly before the birth I thought “oh, actually, I reckon I’ll be quite good at that”. I do like things to be clean, and years of holidaying on granddads farm left with me a very useful ability to avoid breathing through my nose when bad smells are about.
Clothes on the other hand are an absolute shocker. Arms go in leg holes, poppers are mismatched, and God forbid I attempt to choose the outfit myself. Couldn’t my wife have just bought clothes that ALL match?
We went to the hospital for a check-up, and I was super excited to use a baby changing area, and to show off my natural baby changing abilities in public for the first time. We’d forgotten the wipes so they gave me a little bowl with water and cotton wool, and I sauntered into the room, head held high.
I emerged five minutes later with a naked and very wet baby to appeal to my wife for help. In front of all the assembled medical staff. She helped me finish the nappy switch and clean up all the water I’d spilled, and then we noticed we didn’t have a set of fresh clothes either! So we left the hospital shame faced, with our baby wrapped in a blanket like a little baby Jesus.
I definitely won’t be winning any awards for dad of the year now.