Monday, July 14, 2008


This is the post I wrote immediately after Martin came home for the first time... Sadly the original got deleted.


I'm overwhelmed at all the kind comments on Martin's first post! Thanks so much for your kind words and I hope to get to thanking each and every one of you in turn properly!

Well, today was the first day little Martin got to come home. When he was born, he had a rash and a fever, but was soon given the thumbs up from the wonderful nurses at the hospital. He came home and soon confirmed what we suspected about Martin - that he takes after his father in being able to quaff an outrageous amount and fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

But being a parent is a very, very weird thing!

Tina has taken to it like a duck to water. Just like pregnancy seemed to make her blossom, she slotted into mothership mode really easily and has a natural confidence that I wish I shared.

Fatherhood, to me, seems to involve two aspects:

The first is the physical one. There's a little animal in our house that needs to be taken care of. Fortunately, growing up on a farm, my parents gave me a lot of early observation caring for newborn lambs - and contrary to popular belief, babies really aren't that dissimilar.

In fact, I felt a bit removed from the whole birth process, which didn't seem like a miraculous and religious thing to me. It just reminded me of all those sheep... and cows... and dachshunds... giving birth. Which was weird because it was my wife lying on the table instead of a furry little animal.

But that was actually nice because I understood what was happening, what was involved in the whole process and what the end result would be.

Also - I was reminded that being a MAN means you're getting off lightly when it comes to the whole reproductive process. Tina is still recovering!

Anywho. Tina was a little trooper and managed 20 hours of labour very well. She was a robust little thing - sticking up to more pain than I'm sure I could handle. But she was also sensible and got the right amount of pain relief before she squeezed my hand into a bloody pulp.

Following birth comes the delirious period in which baby requires feeding every two hours. Now the wonderful people at the hospital have a great setup, which means that they'll take care of the essential post-birth care (including feeding) for the first day or so to give Mum and Dad time to rest.

Unfortunately, Tina's rabid mother-mode combined with my 'if it works for newborn sheep, presumably it works for babies, too' mode meant that we nipped back and forth every couple of hours so Tina could feed Martin freshly brewed colostrum instead of formula.

See, Mother! I was listening when you explained to me how important it was to get baby lambs to feed during the first few days! I didn't think that knowledge would be important to me during the first few hours of fatherhood, though.

I did sleepwalk through those first 48 hours, though...

The second weird thought process was trying to get my head around the whole idea of BEING A DAD.

I mean, I'm a DAD now. A father. Un pere. I'm far too exhausted to remember where the accent goes in that.

This is a very confusing situation because I'm only used to be a son. Being a father is a total reversal of my comfort zone. Fortunately, I think the fatherly challenges are starting off easy, since all I have to worry about is eating, pooping, crying etc - whereas my father had to worry about a series of wildly impractical sports cars/girlfriends and then a move to a different continent.


Let me tell you a little about Martin.

Ever since Tina became pregnant, I've been looking a little more intently at babies and definitely noticed babies I like and babies that are 'fine, I guess.' It's all very dispassionate, though. I mean, babies are babies and it's difficult to get beyond the 'cute or not cute' question since I don't get exposed to any of the other baby aspects.

So considering that Martin is the first baby I've ever really known intimately, I think I'm probably being wildly biased when I say that he's a totally awesome baby.

I mean, he's big and he's handsome and he is an intently practical baby who only cries or complains when he wants something. He is very strong - he's amazed all of us by lifting his head up and gazing around curiously at things, even though he's not meant to be doing that yet.

But I guess EVERYBODY thinks their baby is so much cuter, cleverer and more capable than anybody else's baby, so I will admit that I'm probably being biased. But he is a very good baby.

At the moment, he doesn't resemble Tina much (although my father points out that all babies look like their fathers for the first few months.) He has my fair-but-rosy complexion, my father's square jawline and chin and his hair reminds me of my brother's. He's definitely a Hulme.

Taking him home was a bit weird and I panicked trying to be the 'good Dad' and change him, put him to bed etc. Fortunately Tina took over with an astonishing capability and our parental responsibilities seemed to be outlined at that point. She does the driving caring for the baby and I do the driving caring for her. Which seems fine.

All in all, it's going fine for the time being. It's just a bit strange, crossing that line that can't be uncrossed. Going from child to adult.

I've always been a bit of a Peter Pan and refused to grow up (check out the silly car in my driveway) but when you actually have a child yourself, you suddenly stop being Martin's son (my dad's name is Martin, too) and turn into Martin's father.

It's a very weird transition I haven't quite got my head around yet.

But I'm happy. Little Martin is adorable, cute, clever and beautiful and it's very exciting to step out of the retreating sunset of childhood into the bright sunrise of fatherhood. Whatever existential angst and premature mid-life crisis I might have had seems to have been forgotten.

Looking unselfishly at Martin, rather than selfishly at myself, I can content myself by knowing the best years truly are yet to come.

Here's to fatherhood!


Reverse_Vampyr said...

Congratulations again to you and Tina on the birth of Martin. As father of three beautiful daughters, I can tell you you're in for one heck of a ride (but you already knew that). Best of luck to you. It takes a little while to get used to the rhythm of fatherhood, but I'm confident you'll be an excellent dad.

Coffee Bean said...

I'm glad you re-wrote this!

meauxna said...

Congratulations, Roland & Tina and Welcome to America baby Martin!
Have missed you around BE and am glad to see that all is going great.
You're already an awesome Dad by the sounds of things. :)