Figuring Out Fatherhood: Ah, The Memories


"I'm too old for this," says Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, and it was these exact words which surfaced in my mind the first night our new daughter, Jemima, spent at home.

You see, it has been over two years since I spent my days and nights looking after a newborn baby, and it seems that in those two years my brain had erased many of the experiences of these first few months, like it does after a particularly bad trauma or a few too many beers.

You learn new things every time you become a parent, of course. For example, I now know that it is almost impossible to fit three children (two of whom need car seats) into the back of a Mondeo, unless you choose the most supple child and convince him to contort into a position that Houdini himself would have been proud of.

And then there's the old stuff: the memories that you had somewhere in your mind which rush to the surface the moment you turn over in your bed a little too loudly, prompting a series of snorts and shuffles from the Moses basket in the corner. It's the moment you think "Oh, yes, I remember this," and spend the next five minutes lying completely rigid with your eyes tight shut, willing your baby to go back to sleep.

This is just one of many memories which have rekindled in my mind over the past fortnight.

Others include, in no particular order:

Baby Poo

I hadn't forgotten that babies poo, of course. Who can forget those first two or three deposits, so thick and tar-black that you practically have to peel them off your baby's buttocks?

It's not the poo itself which bothers me; I actually, in a strange way, don't mind the smell. It's the frequency with which a baby poos, with no thought or consideration to how much time you have or how awake you are. The other day I'd just spent the best part of 15 minutes cleaning up a particularly vicious nappy only for my beautiful daughter to squeeze out another beautiful specimen all over her beautiful clothes. (Most of that last sentence should be read through gritted teeth.)


No, not the drugs. I'm referring to the little metal clasps found on practically every vest and babygrow on the market. They're fine in themselves, practical even, but an absolute nightmare to do up when you're stressed or tired.

You end up losing any rational thought, just pinching the popper between thumb and forefinger and pressing as hard as possible, even though you know that there's a bit of material caught which means it'll never work.

And you always get to the last popper on the babygrow only to discover that you've missed one along the way, so you have to go back and start all over again, by which time she's probably done another poo (see 'Baby Poo', above).

Broken Sleep

The only people who should be awake at 2.30am are night shift workers and drunken revellers trying unsuccessfully to get their key in the front door.

But more than once in the past fortnight I've been awake at this time, rocking Jemima to sleep, illuminated only by the flickering glow of a TV showing rubbish programmes.

But in a sense, I don't mind. There's quite a cosy feeling knowing that you're probably the only one awake on your street, that you can spend some quiet cuddle time with your baby in peace and quiet.

Every day I learn something new, and remember another thing I thought I'd forgotten. Every week I spend a small fortune on nappies and other various baby paraphernalia. Every night I'm rocking a child as the city sleeps, and every morning I'm bleary-eyed.

But I wouldn't change it for the world.