Everyone’s heard the horror stories about about NCT classes where you are forced to work in groups, everyone holding hands singing songs. But this isn’t the case.
In my experience, the group work we did involved Dads collectively putting a list of questions together which ranged from very practical questions regarding prams and the best suspension options for going off road, to how to combat flat head syndrome and what food provisions to bring to the hospital.
In my case the food preparation was essential in allowing me to remain calm when my wife started having contractions. The fact that I made enough sandwiches for a small army didn’t matter:)
Back to the antenatal class, the important part was to learn what to expect when babies are born. Unbeknownst to me before I attended the class, newborns can suffer from a number of conditions at birth. You may have a perfect picture in your mind of what your newborn will look like.
In my case, I had a vision of my son being a miniature version of me, smiling up at me. Prepare to be shocked guys, in most cases babies are be born with blue hands and feet, a yellow tinge, cone head, crossed eyes, swollen face and skin rashes. At a minimum, you can almost guarantee your little one will look like a boxer after a hard fought bout. As shocking as these conditions seem, they are all perfectly normal and usually last for a period of two days on average.
The highlight of our sessions had to be the meconium discussion. This is what you’ll find in your new babies nappy the first few days after birth. The meconium is the ingested material from the infant’s time in the mother’s uterus. Basically it’s a sticky black tar substance. On hearing this description, one of the guys in the group who had been very reserved and sitting quietly with his wife, suddenly perked up. He began searching frantically on his phone for Google images of the meconium and proceeded to shock the group for the next 20 minutes with different photo samples, each more horrifying than the last. Most of Dads dealt with this onslaught by breaking into hysterical laughter, apart from one of the Dads who seemed to be growing greener by the minute. I have to say, all in all it was good healthy banter.
When my wife first suggested we join up for an NCT antenatal class, I was skeptical. After all, I had heard many of the guys in the office complaining about spending evenings and weekends at classes.
However, I found our NCT sessions to be very laid back, informative and a bit of banter. Meeting a new group of guys that were about to be Dads had a lot of advantages and our organised nights out came in handy once our babies were born. Going out for drinks is very difficult, if not impossible, at that stage with a newborn. I found myself running around buying various baby items and whatever my wife needed. It would have been extremely brave to ask for a night off to meet the boys but drinks with the Dads group was always permitted.
There was also the added benefit that most of the group were dealing with the same issues of lack of sleep, getting into a routine, when to put the little one into their own room and gory nappy stories. All of which, I couldn’t discuss in the same detail with my other friends.
Everything changed when my son was born, but not in a negative way. I made a conscious decision to continue with my normal lifestyle as best I could whilst ensuring I was an involved and hands on Dad. The result has been both incredibly rewarding and challenging on many levels. There is never a dull moment. I regularly find myself in unexpected predicaments and adventures but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve been a Dad since May 2012 and can honestly say I knew nothing about babies before my son was born. I had met a few newborn babies, but the extent of my experience and interaction with them was the occasional utterance of “goochie goo”. The first time I learnt how to hold a newborn baby was at an antenatal class, where I was taught techniques with a plastic baby doll.
I was the first of my buddies to have a child and I still consider myself young (early 30s). Prior to becoming a Dad, my energies were solely spent working hard in the office, participating in sporting events, enjoying an active lifestyle and living it up at weekends; frequenting parties, restaurants and coffee shops.
This is not a “how to blog”.
This is an avenue to share my experiences and adventures, from a Dad’s perspective, which my young son has brought to daily life. Also the challenge of attempting to juggle being an involved Dad and family man, with a career, active lifestyle and social life successfully on a daily basis.