Being a Dad (Part 1 of ∞)

So Far...

Almost three weeks ago I became a dad for the first time. The birth was a traumatic experience like nothing else and I wish it on not even my worst enemies. There has been a lot of emotional and physical healing since the 16th, and we feel like we might be ffinally getting a hold of things. 

Interestingly, this paints my blog in a new light. One day, Joni will be able to read it. There will be blog posts that she can't read for years, but others that she might be able to, and the stories contained within are almost a living diary, one that one day I will share with her. She'll probably find it unsufferably uncool that her dad had a radio show, wrote a blog, and drew maps, but that's fine - I wouldn't be doing my job right if I wasn't really uncool.

In the first few weeks there has been a million different new experiences, and loads of them are really personal and won't be written on here, for that is probably not why you come along to read these posts. Instead, here's a few small things that I've noticed that aren't too personal.

She Loves My Radio Show

When she first came home Joni found it hard to settle for multiple reasons, but it was clear that one thing soothed here really well - the noise of the kettle boiling up. A few days later, after recording the kettle and playing it back to her occasionally, I realised that a lot of the music I play on my show sounds like that kettle. So, one night we were up and I decided to play her back one of my radio shows and she immediately went right to sleep. I thought it might have been a fluke, but...

She loves ambient and drone. I take that as meaning she loves my musical taste, but I feel it is more likely she likes the waves of noise. Her current favourite albums are Loscil's Sketches from New Brighton and Coast / Range / Arc, as well as the Boards of Canada album The Campfire Headphase and the abrasive noise of Tim Hecker's Ravedeath, 1972. I tried out some Aphex Twin with Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 but it wasn't as effective.

- Nappies/Diapers Aren't Full Proof

This one is obvious, but it bears repeating - they leak and when they do it's catastrophic.  Also, don't for one moment think that changing a nappy/diaper will mean they won't pee or poop.

We also have inter-changable names for them - nappies or diapers.

- Frank Doesn't Understand Crying

Joni and Frank have met a few times, but he's formally yet to come home from his grandparents. He will, in time, get used to Joni's smell and sound, but for now every time she cries he looks confused, worried, terrified and oddly interested, sniffing around the her cot and her car seat, whilst also trying to sneak off with one of her toys.

He has been quite good so far, so that's good. We will have to see how his full bedding in goes, but otherwise it is going quite well.

The Waiting Game

Around three weeks into Connie and I's relationship, we realised that there was one area of our matched personalities that we were vastly different - turns out that I am a very patient person and Connie is not. I would say she was impatient, but that sounds like an insult and it's a little more than that - she just doesn't like waiting. It was first discovered when stuck in traffic in Aberdeen, and that she didn't like waiting in the car, which I discovered was a major issue. Patience, it turns out, is something I have in abundance. I mean, I can wait ages for a train or a bus that I know will come. Connie can't and will chose not to.

And, you know what? Fair enough. Many people will paint this as a personality flaw, but it actually can work to her (or our) advantage. Boarding an aeroplane after our wedding last year Connie was a little nervous about fitting our two carry on cases (for our sins) and her wedding dress onto the plane and in the storage areas. I was all prepared to wait until we were told our section was boarding (we were in the front half of the plane's seats, which would mean waiting for the back section to be filled, giving us little time to get in a situated our selves). The waiting at the gate for a plane is where Connie's patience is truly tested, and she decided to go and plead with the gate staff, who then let us on with the infirm and children'ed people before the rest of the passengers like royalty. 

Now, if you're clever and read the blog at a level above casual, you'll notice that I posted this post announcing our pregnancy back in January 2014. Assuming for the moment we waited for the 12 week scan (at least), that was 28 weeks ago. Putting those two together and you'll get 40 weeks: 40 weeks, the length of a pregnancy. If I tell you that our 12 week scan was actually on our 13th week due to changing hospitals, you'll also realise that we are now a week "overdue".

Here's the thing - being overdue is a very very common thing. In fact, the majority of births, especially from first time mothers, are late by four days or more. And the other thing is that the due date is as amorphous a thing as you can imagine, being based entirely on assumptions and averages, and almost all births are not on the due date. The exact measurement methods include ovulation, period timing, and a whole range of methods that are very different for each pregnant woman. One major part of hypnobirthing was the education around the due date and that inducing the birth isn't something that should be the go-to tool to use if you're overdue, because a baby will come when it's ready, and bringing it along "earlier" than that might not be the best for you or the birth experience.

That being said, going to 12 to 14 days over isn't reccomended, as that is then outside of the window of error for the due date, and then discussions will be had. We're okay with this.

You know, if our child is reading this back (a post that I am drafting right now as well) let it be said that this isn't a problem and we aren't annoyed OR impatient - in fact, the only reason I am posting this is to try and tempt fate, to bring the birth along a little quicker. The only reason we would be impatient is to meet our child, someone we've been waiting for over 40 weeks to meet, and that it will be pretty great. It's funny, being on the edge of parenthood, within touching distance of it, and still not being there.

A weird existential limbo, but a good limbo to be in.

Internet Identity

In the coming month, sooner or later, I will become a father, and from there on in all my responsibilities will have changed. I will have people chipping in their ideas and thoughts on how to raise my child, and I will listen to them, take their suggestions on board, and discard them with abandon. I'll say "I agree" and "I don't agree" to things people will suggest each day, more than likely, and to be honest, that's all right. Children seem to be the one thing that everyone, educated/experienced or not, has an opinion on, and I'm never going to be able to say that my ideas are "right" - I just need to try and do the best I can, and the best Connie and I can.

There is one thing you're never going to see though; a photo of my child on this blog.

That'll surprise you if you follow the upteen photos of my dog, Frank, on Instagram, for he is a minor celebrity. In addition, once your Facebook friends reach a certain averaged age, photos of their kids are almost all that appears on your Facebook feed.

However, Connie and I are united on one thing in this respect - no one, not us and not our family, will be posting photos of our child on the internet.

Why, you might ask? Well, it's about responsibility. Photos of me as a baby are in a drawer at my mum and dads and safely there, not owned by a mega corporation that pays no tax where I am their product. I won't be plastering a person, a human with an identity, online without their consent, because once it's online it's there forever, no matter how much you pretend it isn't. That's something I've came to know well and understand the implications of.

This is going to be hard, though - I mean, it's going to be the best thing Connie and I will have ever done, becoming parents, so surely we'd want to let everyone know that was the case? But it links into what I saying previously about things "needing" to be recorded - someone people will push for a photo to be posted. And yes, there might be one announcing the arrival (and even that one won't be an identifying photo), but after that, it'll be a black out.

Unorthodox maybe and certainly not going to be make family members very happy who will also want to show off the new arrival, we instead suggest that they should privately share photos on sites that the photographer retains the ownership of the photo (like Flickr or 500px). We will sill share photos to family and close friends via those controlled means, but until we are happy with the way the photos will be used, our child won't be online in that way.

If you think about it, it is all to do with ownership. We own Frank, despite him being an important member of the family, and he's just something that we bought. He doesn't have a personality that will, in the future, want to become it's own identity. He's always going to be a dog, and be unwaveringly and completely in bonded to Connie, me and our child, no matter what. He's just too stupid to know any different (that, my friends, is why dogs are so so great, by the way).

Our child, on the other hand, is a mini me, a mini-Connie... a mini-you. They are going to grow up the same as us, worried about everything and confused about the world, striving to find themselves, discover the world and become something that is unique, and I don't like the idea of having put another level of worry on their minds, that there is baby photos out there that are owned by a corporation. I feel that it is a matter of respect. I worry that people who post photos online of their kids at any age, but especially when they are very young, forget that they aren't the latest Guardian post or Buzzfeed article to be Shared, Liked and Forgotten - they are a real person

However, this isn't a dig at people who do post photos of their kids online, I am not that sancitmonius. You can do whatever you want and whatever you like with your family, I am just explaining my thoughts about the whole thing. Here's a final thought if you're still on the fence. Do you have any idea how far photos online go? No? Well, here's a thing - if you think your photos stop at the walls of Facebook, you're wrong. They can end up anywhere, which means that anyone can look at them. Which means you have to assume that the worst people are seeing them.

And yeah, that's not something I want.