Some of the first advice we received after the birth was from a mate in Spain saying ‘don’t let them throw you out of the hospital too soon. Stay for at least 3-4 days’. Sadly, this is austerity Britain and, whilst they weren’t exactly holding the door open and saying ‘here’s your coat, what’s your hurry?’ there was an underlying feeling that everyone thought we’d be better off at home. Fortunately we shared that feeling so, after they’d checked Leanne and Marty for wear and tear, and made sure the little one was feeding ok, we packed our bags and came home, a brief 18 hours after the birth.
When it comes to preparing for the arrival of a baby there are two schools of thought; the “Boy Scout, be prepared, dib-dib-dib” approach and the “Yer,yer,yer.Wotever” school of advanced preparation. Needless to say, I am no Boy Scout.
I’ve no idea why but I thought things would just figure themselves out as and when required. Hence finding myself in the nursery at 4am with a disposable nappy, a pile of cotton wool, warm water and not even a glimmer of a clue what to do with it all. Fortunately Leanne was a girl guide, so between the two of us we managed to remove the old nappy....
Have you ever wondered how common phrases came about? You know, things like “as cute as a button”. I use this phrase a lot around Marty yet I cannot recall ever seeing a button and saying to myself, ‘Wow, look at that button! Cute or what!” Well another common phrase that I never really understood was “Sticks like shit”.... right up until the moment when we peeled back that first nappy!
Apparently the black gunk we revealed is called “meconium”. According to Wikipedia this is Greek for “Opium-Like”, which is bizarre because I imagined it was Greek for “OhmygodwhattheflyingfuckisTHAT???”
Meconium is a black-green, tar-like, substance that a baby excretes immediately after birth in order to frighten the fuck out of parents. It’s astonishing stuff and it’s amazingly tenacious. I think we started trying to wipe if off about 4:10am and finished about 5am. It was like trying to remove dry concrete with a cotton bud! I was strongly tempted to dip the entire child in white spirit at one point but I suspected that this approach would be frowned upon in midwifery circles, so we tried again but with a really big bit of cotton wool.
Having finally removed all traces of meconium from Marty’s arse we had to dispose of it. At this point my lack of preparation came back to haunt me yet again.
We had bought this really neat bin that you put the nappies in and then twisted to seal everything up nice and air-tight. Terrific idea and dead easy to use but at 5am it was still in its box and even the simplest of tasks becomes horribly complicated when you’re dead tired and trying to read installation instructions whilst balancing toxic waste in your hand.
So he’s my first bit of advice for fathers-to-be; prepare! Buy a nappy and have a look at how they work. Give all your purchases a go before the big day arrives and when you first encounter meconium make sure you’re wearing elbow length rubber gloves.... or better still give them to your wife and just stand well back.