If, through your haze of sleep deprivation and bewilderment you remember to read this when your supposed to, you’ll have recently become the proud father of your second child. By my rough calculations you’ll have just bought said child home from the hospital and be madly trying to figure out how to make your expanded family unit work again.
I know how much you tend to hate advice so I’ll keep it simple. Assuming you have a normal, healthy newborn, every issue you have can be fixed relatively easily but will take an investment of sleep and patience. The next piece of advice will save your life: do not, under any circumstances give Mrs Illiterate Infant the first piece of advice.
I’m writing this to you now because the Illiterate household is in a bit of a sweet spot. Your original Illiterate infant is now a proper little girl that (mostly) feeds herself, (mostly) sleeps through the night and (in the last week) lets you know when she needs to go to the toilet and doesn’t wear nappies. I’m telling you this so when you’re up patting the new him or her to sleep at 10pm, 12pm, 2am and 4am only to get up to go to work that you remember that it’s not forever.
Whilst I’m on a roll, I should also remind you that, regardless of what your thinking at the time, your probably not going to do lasting damage to your child if; as a last resort you need to let the new one cry itself to sleep or you give it a dummy then take it away or forget to change her for an hour or so.
On the subject of not giving your wife advice there is something I should let you in on. Your wife will need you lots. As I’m writing this she’s a confident mum, doing amazing things steering your baby through toddler-hood. About the time you read this she will probably be a sleep deprived mess, unable to sustain any real conversation and (even though it’s hilarious) not be in the mood for your unique ability to point out the “funny side” of every situation. She may actually swear at you when you try to do it or just start crying. Don’t take it personally. Instead see it as an opportunity to practice your routine internally. Also, your helping needs to be practical. Give her an opportunity to relax, sleep, eat or even shower.
So, getting back to my original advice, patience is really important. Remember the new baby won’t be that interesting initially but try and spend some time just appreciating what you have. One moment their strapped to your chest, the next they are refusing to wear anything that isn’t pink and frilly and telling you that they want to go to ballet classes. Be patient with your wife. She’s got the toughest gig of all and just because she figured it out last time won’t mean she’ll figure it out the same way or quicker this time. Lastly be patient with yourself. You’re going to want to fix everything straight away. Just let it be a little bit un-fixed for a while – it might not even need fixing.
One last thing (yes it’s more advice but you’ll thank me). Whatever little cuddly toy you give the new him/her, buy 4 of them. That way when you go out you won’t be more scared about losing the toy than you will be of losing them.
What advice would you give yourself next time around?
I need to thank Danya from over at Danya Banya who gave me the idea to write the letter.
As always, I’m sharing with Jess’s Diary of a SAHM for IBOT