I think I faffed a bit.
I was making sure we hadn’t left anything behind. I checked the cupboard beside the bed, checked on the bed and under the bed. And then I checked it all again. And then looked in the bag and checked everything AGAIN just to make sure we were taking everything with us.
“Me? Yes. Of course. Let me just check we have everything”
I checked the bag again. Ready? Was I fuck.
9 months, a lot of money had been spent buying stuff, pushchairs, clothes and assorted other baby paraphernalia, making a nursery. This WAS on my radar. I knew this was happening and we had EVERYTHING ready for us at home. Except the nappy wipe heater thing which I really wanted, but was I ready? Really ready? Actually really ready for this? For me the scariest moment in my life was about to happen.
We were about to take our son, our first child, home.
This was similar to the ‘holiday panic’ I get when I’m in the car to the airport or just entering the doors to the terminal and suddenly think “Fuck. Did I –
a) pack the passports or
b) leave the iron on?
But this was worse than that. We were about to take T home, currently sleeping in his car seat and thankfully unaware of his father being a first grade cretin.
I was delaying. The warm cosy feeling of the hospital, where people trained in babies could help and advise would soon be behind us. I can’t believe that I’m thinking a hospital is cosy but there you go. This is panic.
We drive home, me sitting in the back of the car. My son is in a cosy sleepsuit but he’s only little. 6lb 7oz but tall apparently. Everyone kept saying just how long he was. Which made me wonder if that’s normal or have we got a freak. In the back of the car EVERY 15 seconds I keep checking on him to make sure he’s still breathing and we haven’t broken him within 5 minutes of leaving the hospital.
It’s difficult to see him breathing with this big furry suit thing on so, in order to make sure he’s still alive, I poke him. A bit. Just a little bit. He stirs and falls back to sleep within seconds.
That was the first time I ever felt guilt as a parent. But to feel that within the first 5 minutes is good. I reckoned I’d be feeling it forever.
We arrived home and transferred our sleeping son to his Moses basket and he continued sleeping. I looked at my wife who was tired and in some discomfort after driving home. I looked at myself in the hallway mirror. I looked tired, but that was because I’d been out till three-ish the previous night celebrating the birth of our son with a friend. We ended up in a gay bar he liked. As you do.
T was sleeping. At the hospital we’d had a few sets of baby tennis. My ex-wife would be holding him and he’d be sleeping. Her arm would go numb and she’d ask me if I could hold him for a bit while she had a little snooze and a rest. Of course said I. 15 – love to her.
I’d hold him and gaze at him sleeping soundly. Then he’d wake and stretch and start to cry. I’d get up and… what? What do I do? I moved him about and patted him. I readjusted his swaddling. He’d pull himself out and wriggle some more. My ex-wife was looking at me with one eye open. I smiled.
“Sorry, could you take him. I just need to pop to the loo.’ and I’d pass him back into her outstretched arms.
Yes. 15-all. Baby tennis would continue for some weeks.
I stood in the house and looked around. Tinker the cat surveyed me with a look of ‘WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?’ on her face. She looked in the loving room at the Moses basket and ran away. In a nanosecond everything in the house became a potential death trap for the baby. The cat. The plug sockets. The vases on the glass cabinet. Fuck. I need to screw that into the wall. And remove the vases. Fuck. Just remove the whole thing. WHAT IF HE CRAWLS IN 2 DAYS AND PULLS IT DOWN ON HIMSELF! Same goes for the TV, the sofa, the cables. WHAT IF HE CRAWLS AND BITES THROUGH THEM? WE MUST GET RID OF THE CARPET AS HE MAY START TO EAT IT!
Everything was potential for injury and death. He could climb up onto the sofa tomorrow and fall off. I knew it. I read a book saying babies crawl at about 4 months, but he’s bound to be a bit smart as his mum is incredibly intelligent. He’ll probably start crawling tomorrow. Talking by Wednesday.
OH MY GOD THIS HOUSE IS UNSAFE! WE NEED TO MOVE!
In reality, the only place I needed to move to was somewhere with 4 padded walls.
I saw my wife on the sofa with her eyes closed. A gentle snore coming from her. Good, she was resting. I’d pack some stuff away. Make myself useful.
I grabbed the bag and fell over the cat who’d come to have another nose. I dropped the bag. She woke up and my son woke up. He started crying. I picked him up and my ex-shifted a bit. She grabbed her nursing cushion and I handed him to her. Ha, 15-30. I’m getting good at this baby tennis.
T settled and we looked at each other. Our son was home and we were a family. The warm feeling of finally having something I always wanted was filling me. I smiled. T fell asleep and lay on the nursing cushion.
I looked at my wife and said,
“Now what do we do?”
A lot has changed in the three and a half years since that day. I’ve stopped panicking and I’m a calmer parent. The moment was special, but then so is any moment I spend with my children. I’ve become a better person and a better human being with them in this world. I’m truly blessed. Without them I was just me. But with them in my life I’m a dad, a father, and that’s the best feeling in the world.
I know everyone’s going home experience is different, some aren’t as fortunate as we were, but what was yours like? Do we all panic a bit or am I the only mentalist here. Please let me know how you felt.
Oh, and thanks for reading.