“Oh my, you will never have felt love like it!”
“It’s like your life has new meaning. Like you’ve finally found something worth more than yourself”
“as soon as you see them you are smitten”
“I was just in tears when they were born. I looked at them and thought, I made you. And you are perfect”
Me? Well I was glad you were screaming and that you had all your fingers and toes but to be honest I was a little preoccupied with your Mum and the fact that you had spent 72 hours or more taking your time to grace us with your presence. Yes I loved you. Of course I did. I’m not a sociopath. But did I have some earth shattering, all encompassing, gooey and oh so slightly self absorbed moment of euphoria? No. I didn’t know you! Sorry. Plus you were pretty shrivelled! I was quite concerned that the only job you would be able to get would be that of Sloth’s sister in The Goonies 2
So, you came out screaming and yelling with fists clenched and a primal roar. I was more than a bit proud of you for that. “Hey world! Here I am bitches. Ya better get yourself ready ‘cos Imma shit storm ready to happen all over you”. Actually, you were very much a storm of shit and you have quite literally ‘happened all over me’. But, seeing as one of my pre-baby promises was not to spend my time talking about what our American cousins like to call “poop” (WHY??? WHY???????), I won’t mention anymore about your exploding anus and your satanic laughter at 5am.
No. Your Mum was very busy having the next stage of pregnancy involving the placenta and as far as I was aware that’s a pretty dangerous time, so I was pretty happy that there were three Doctor types with you whilst you were grilling on your hot plate. “Mr Fitzpatrick, would you like to cut the cord?” said the lady Doctor with a knowing, comforting smile. “Err, yeah. Sure” I stammered as I darted over there, cut the cord with hardly a look and ran back to your Mum. “You said you weren’t gonna do that!” your Mum said with a wry smile, “Well seeing as I also said I was gonna stay head end and I’ve just witnessed what I believe was once your vagina be mauled by at least 2 doctors like a deranged Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with some badly behaved dough I guess all bets are off”. “Cheers for that” she said. Bare in mind I was already in trouble for insisting that I wear full scrubs so I could ‘play the part of that guy from ER’, I tried not to push it any further. HA! Push it any further… I bet there’s a good joke in there somewhere.
Skip forward and we’re on the ward. You, tiny, grey (Why grey? SO weird), your Mum looking shattered and me trying to find fresh coffee and wondering if I can order a pizza at 12am. I was sent home, much to my disgust, and you and your Mum got some well earned sleep. It was unbelievably still and eery at home. The dogs were with your Aunty so the flat was particularly quiet. I remember sitting on the bed and just before I passed out, after I had scoured the flat for a glass of wine and had come up empty handed, I thought to myself, ‘I’m a Dad. Shit. I can only sincerely apologise in advance little lady’
I have to admit the next day was a bit like Christmas. I was very, very excited to see you both again. Getting to the hospital, holding you, remarking once again on how small you were, taking delight in putting your hat and mittens on, searching for more coffee, learning to change you (the nurse was equal parts helpful, sweet and incredibly patronising. There’s a special level of condescension that some women reserve for Dads. Like an embittered elite level. We’ve discovered quite a bit of it since then), I was then told that I was allowed to stay on the chair that night. Cue the 3am hall way walk reserved for Dads holding their tiny babies, looking equally terrified and in love, passing knowing, kind glances at each other, swapping stories and leaving with heartfelt good wishes. It really is a wonderful thing that hospitals have started to let Dads stay. It’s a magical thing. A precious thing. And the atmosphere was one of hope, fear, joy and camaraderie. So cool. Men at their too infrequent best.
So we finally got out. Well… We walked out. They wouldn’t call the heart consultant (you were being watched because there was a murmur detected and because of my history with disastrous heart health they didn’t want you to go home yet. My bad). I was bemused as to why they wouldn’t call the ‘On Call’ Consultant. “Surely the job title helps you with that decision?” and, to be fair, I was so confident that you were fine; you’d gone from grey to a very English rose, you were feeding like a boss and your Mum SOOO needed to get home. She wanted something different to eat other than take away pizza. I know right! Weird.
Arriving home to a parking disaster owing to shitty, bloody, bolloxing football – we had to park half a mile away. Fine for me and you but your Mum and her new lady cave were less enthused – we were besieged by family members, over excited dogs and chaos. Out the window went my plans of slow integration with the dogs. A gentle building of trust. Dashed were my hopes of a steady, calm, quiet visiting of guests. A father protecting his young family. “My rules now ya know”. No. All that shit happened at once in one glorious, chaotic, exhausting moment well beyond any control from me. Not to mention an over exuberant Father-in-law throwing coffee all over my newly painted wall and smashing cups and a coffee pot in the process. Mind you, that’s nothing to the sublime work you have done to every surface in the flat a year later. A giggling, busy, chubby Michelangelo. From that moment on I knew I would have to get used to my best laid plans being almost cosmically laughed at by the angels of organisation. After all, this is just the beginning…