A LETTER TO MY PRE CHILD SELF BY FATHER OF DAUGHTERS
Hey, how’s it going? So you’re having a baby. Congratulations! I know what you’re thinking (after all I’m you!) – You’ve got a load of questions buzzing around in that head of yours and you can’t quite deal with them and that’s totally understandable. You’re 24, you’ve been with you girlfriend for 18 months and you’ve just moved in together after leaving university. This wasn’t in your ‘plan’. I remember you lying on the floor when Clemmie told you that she was pregnant and not knowing whether to hide, cry, laugh or scream but trust me you’ve come out the other side a stronger and better person for the things you’re about to experience.
With the gift of hindsight, I’d like to answer some of those question you have and reassure you that you’re going to be fine, in fact more than fine, you’re going to a parent of 4 beautiful girls and married to the love of your life so it definitely all works out in the end.
Question 1: I’m totally not feeling prepared. Am I really ready to be a parent?
The answer, no you’re not, but you totally will be when the time comes. It may not feel like it now, but that’s because having a baby is a massive thing and it takes time to get your head around how this is going to affect your life. Now, to get you in the right head space, make sure you work with Clemmie to prepare, she’s just as scared and nervous as you and you guys need to talk about it to help and support each other. Her body is going to go through a lot of new changes and she needs you so be there for her. You’ll actually learn a lot in the midwife meetings and in the classes so make sure you pay attention.
Question 2: What am I supposed to be doing during the birth?
Birth is pretty incredible. But it can also be scary seeing your partner not totally in control. Keep calm and reassure her that you’re there for her. Quietly talk to her and hold her hand. Use hypnobirthing and relaxation techniques to calm both her and you. Encourage her to be up and mobile – birth doesn’t have to be like it is on TV (on your back in the bed). She’s going to say some bad stuff while she’s in labour but she doesn’t mean it and at the end of it you’re going to have the most amazing daughter. Thank Clemmie for all she’s done and make sure you hold your baby against your bare skin and stare into her eyes. She’s going to be everything to you. A final piece of advice – try and cry when she arrives – Clemmie is still annoyed 9 years on that you didn’t at any of the births!!
Question 3: Can I support us and a baby financially?
I know you worried about this a lot but it’s fine. It’s amazing how quickly your priorities change when you have a baby. Suddenly going out and seeing friends all the time isn’t as important, to be honest you’re going to be too tired too even if you wanted to in the first couple of months.
Being a parent, you’re going to get bombarded by companies telling you about the products that you ‘need’ to have. In reality you need a car seat, a comfortable bed, nappies, milk and some nice soft clothing and muslins, lots of muslins. Dummies are great for helping them to get to sleep but don’t use it all the time, you don’t want them to become completely dependent on it or you’ll lose them one day and be stuffed (you actually did this on a 3 hour car journey and boy, did you pay the price).
No one is born with the knowledge of what to do when you finally get a baby home so don’t worry too much. She’ll cry when she needs something and there are basically three reasons why – she’s hungry, she needs changing or she’s tired. These all have simple remedies and you’re a capable young man so you’ll figure it out. Just remember to not go into being a dad with too many preconceptions about what parenthood will be like and what kind of dad you’ll be. Try not to compare yourself to others as every family and situation is different. If you do want to see a great role model, then look no further than your own parents. They have set the tone for everything you’ve done in your life and brought you up to be a fine young man. Your father is a kind and patient guy who always put his children first. You’ll be exactly the same and although most people say that they’ll do things differently to their parents when they have kids, the best thing you can do it emulate yours because they are amazing.
Question 5: How are we going to cope?
Both you and Clemmie have the best families in the world. They will support you every step along the way. Its daunting at first, being responsible for another human being, but the people around you will support you in ways you didn’t know existed from bringing you food to you babysitting so you can go out and feel like normal human beings for a couple of hours. You even go to Brazil for a week in 2014 without your girls as your parents offer to take them all for an entire week. Clemmie’s mum will even travel up from Whitstable once a week to look after the girls – she’s made a lot of scarifies to help you. Make sure you thank everyone that helps you along the way for all that they do as without them you lives would have been very different.
Question 6: How is my life going to change? I like the way things are.
You might like the way things are now (having money, minimal responsibility and time to go and do what you want, when you want) but your life will change and become so much more fulfilling than you ever thought possible. You might not know it right now, but your daughters are going to become your best friends. You will do anything for them.
Yes, your social life will change and the amount you go out will dwindle but that ok. It happens to everyone at someone point, children or not, and to be honest with you, you’re not missing out on much. Hangover’s get worse at you get older so take it easy at the weekend if and when you get the opportunity to go out – having young children and hangovers do not mix well!
Having children for a relatively young age has not hindered your career as you thought it might. In fact, it’s focused your efforts as you needed to be successful in order to give your girls the experiences that would make them in to the wonderful people they are now. You’ve travelled the world for both work and pleasure and been able to have the nicer things in life and that’s down in part to the fact you were a driven young parent
I hope this helps you realise that the journey you’re about to embark on may seem scary but as a team, you and Clemmie navigate everything that comes your way and come out the other end a stronger couple. You’re children are amazing.
Question 7: I really want it to be a boy. What’s it going to be?
Ah, sorry old boy but you are set to have 4 girls. I know that when you find out the sex of your first baby, secretly you’re a little disappointed. You wanted to have someone to play rugby with and to carry on your family name and being a boy, you wanted a son as you thought it would be easier to bond with him. But guess what? You’re now surrounded by women that love and adore you and you wouldn’t change it for the world. In the end, the most important thing is that they are healthy and happy irrespective of their sex. Your girls keep you on your toes, are smart, articulate and surprize you every day. They are your best friends and are brilliant little people.
- Do more to help Clemmie around the house – we’ll have so many arguments about this so just start now.
- Marnie is going to be scared of learning to ride her bike – give her more time when she’s learning.
- Get Anya more involved in after school clubs earlier on – she’s got a lot of energy and unless you put it into something, she’s going to be a handful at home sometimes.
- Make sure you go to all the school assemblies and shows if you can – it means more to them than you know.
- Make time for yourself – get on your bike, always have a project on the go and make time to see your friends. It’s easy to get lost in the role of a parent, but you still need to remember who you are and what you like to do.
- Finally in 2016 you’re going to have twin girls! – This really isn’t as scary as it sounds. Yes it’s tiring but, like everything else you’ve done in your life, you’ll find a way that works for you. By the way, they are beautiful.
Keep up to date with Simon Hooper, aka Father of Daughters, antics with his brood here, we promise you’ll have a laugh!