Diaper Duty – A Note for New Daddies (Part 2)
April 15, 2014

In the debut of this series, I wrote about a variety of subjects ranging from choosing a name for your child, to changing the lower arm of your front suspension. To give a bit more focus to our discussion, I have decided to revolve this entry around the topic of “time”.

For centuries, it has been said that marriage marks the end of a man’s time for himself. If you find this true, well I have good news for you. The arrival of a baby changes this entirely. You now have no time for yourself, and your golf buddies.

In seriousness, however, your appreciation of time will change as the little one enters your life. Your days will now be filled with the bright sparkle in her eyes and the beautiful cooing of her voice. This is of course given that she is well fed, her diapers are dry, and you cancel your tee-off with the guys this Sunday.

Sleepy Time

Research has proven that newborns need an average of 12 to 18 hours of sleep. As you can see, there is a six-hour gap in this range. This is an indication of how one baby is unique to the other and that the researchers of this subject are lazy.

In their defense, however, it is hard to pinpoint an accurate estimate because 1) there is a vast amount of possibilities and 2) infants are not known to cooperate with scientific research. So the onus is on you, as the father, to attune your sleeping pattern to that of your child, spouse, and not your football team anymore.

I find that the easiest way to do this is to simply sleep when the baby is sleeping. On a typical day, I reach home around 7pm, take a shower, have dinner, and go to bed by 10pm – about the same as the baby. This is to make up for the time I will spend waking up to her cry at 230am, dragging myself to her crib, changing her diaper, passing her to my wife to be breastfed, going back to bed, and waking up 10 seconds later once I realize that I have actually passed her to the cat.

In summary, there will be a massive change in your sleeping hours so be prepared to alter your body clock. I can’t confirm this but I hear that some doctors do prescribe jet-lag pills for new fathers.

Clean-up Time

If your baby is like mine, who is heavily influenced by our three cats at home, you would soon learn that some babies are not too fond of water. And by “not too fond” I mean they despise it like a film critic at the premiere of Twilight.

In our household, my wife is the Head of Operations while I am the Chief Superintendent. So when it comes to giving our girl a bath, I am in charge of making sure that everything is in place and above all, I do not touch anything.

This system has worked well for us by the dynamics might be different at your end. In any case, it’s good to know how it’s done in the event that you wife is unavailable as bathing a baby is a very delicate process.

The shampoo and bathing cream need to be suitable to your baby’s skin. The bathtub needs to be of certain a shape and size. Most importantly, the water needs to be of a certain temperature, depth and, if you are in Selangor, available.

Sexy Time

Ha ha, you wish.

Social Time

As the only person maintaining an athlete’s physique among my schoolmates, I was the organizer of our weekly futsal sessions after graduation. In the first few years, we had 100% attendance almost every week.

As time passes, however, there was a steady decline in attendance as the guys find a girlfriend(s), get married, and have kids. Progressing in life means reviewing your priorities as well. And that is the right thing to do.

Nevertheless, I personally believe that the arrival of a child is not a deterrence to social activities entirely. It only limits it, and rightly so. Expectations need to be met and I am slowly learning to manage them at my level best. Your wife needs you more than ever this time around so try to be there for her as much as you can.

I try to only get social when things are at ease at home e.g. when baby is asleep and mommy is resting. This is when I would get a quick glass of teh tarik with the guys. When the activity is set to a time beyond my control such as futsal in the morning, I try to get the chores done first and this means breakfast in bed for my beautiful queen from whom I seek permission to dash off to the court.

At times, having a baby works really well to you favor. In the event that you’re hanging out and the MLM guy in your circle decides to show up with his laptop of endless pyramid schemes, having to attend to your child is a solid reason to excuse yourself. If you are the MLM guy of your circle however, I’m afraid I have to go now.

Diaper Duty - A Note for New Daddies
April 06, 2014

Admittedly, I am not the best person to write about this topic. I’ve only been a father for barely a month, this is my first child, and unlike Ina May Gaskin, Michel Odent, Ricki Lake or Chef Wan, I am not a certified parenting consultant. And for all you know, I am making half of these stuff up. 

But the past 30 days have taught me more than what I’ve learned from books I’ve read throughout the nine months of my wife’s pregnancy -- which was very little to begin with. So to celebrate our little Orked turning one-month-old, I’ve decided to do some public service by sharing a few points which I hope can come handy for all the new and soon-to-be fathers out there. 

The notes shall be posted in several short series -- maybe five points a piece -- and added-on from time to time as I learn more things from our bundle of joy and her growing bundle of diapers. This is to ensure that I cover points that I might have missed in previous posts and to serve the male demographic who are mostly made up of lazy readers.

1. Pimp Your Ride

If you are a vintage car enthusiast and own a 2005 Honda City like me, it’s a good idea to make sure that your machine is in top form as your wife gets closer to D-Day. The last thing you want is your car breaking down on the way to the hospital and your baby delivered by untrained PLUS officials. 

My car appeared to be aware of this belief and made more weird menacing noises as we got closer to my wife’s due date. So as any responsible car owner anticipating childbirth would do, I went to the mechanic and got her fixed (the car, not the wife). 

A new front suspension lower-arm and rear brake-pads later, the car is good as new and the mechanic laughs his way to the bank. It hurts the wallet but a well-oiled machine is a worthy investment unless you don’t mind registering the North-South Expressway as your child’s place of birth.

2. Labor of Love

As the name suggests, labor is no fun. It involves waiting, measuring dilations, waiting, inducing contractions, waiting, and ultimately, getting a human being out of another human being’s body, while waiting.

As a husband, you will not be able to experience nor alleviate the physical pain of labor. And you will never be able to understand the pain, ever. No matter how many times the ball have hit your balls during Sunday league.

Thus you are only limited to things that are within your control to make the whole experience just a bit more bearable for your wife. And this pretty much leaves the labor room TV as the only thing you can maneuver with so no matter how much you adore Jennifer Lopez, don’t put American Idol on if you wife hates her with a passion.

The other thing you could do is be friendly with the midwife nurses. There is a massive gap of expectations between us and them as they do this on a daily basis and we don’t (thankfully). Don’t be discouraged if your wife is writhing in pain and the midwife seems less empathic than she should. Just stay on the course, keep on assuring your wife that you are in it together with her and cheer your hearts out when she’s pushing later. Your support means the world to her.

Labor is the most excruciating part of the whole childbearing experience. As a husband, I would probably liken it to going on a rollercoaster without seatbelts. It is a gonad-shrinking experience. But you wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.

3. Guarding the Ward

Apart from being a new father, the first few days after childbirth also means that you are a gatekeeper. And the palace you’re safeguarding is the maternity ward. Your wife had just pushed a person out of her body and she needs all the rest she can get. And unlike us, women do mind being photographed with hair resembling a hurricane. Thus it’s best to keep visitors at a minimum.

Most people are courteous enough to inquire if it’s okay to visit so that makes your job easier. If need be, it is perfectly acceptable to inform people to come over in a few weeks time or later, once the mother and baby are more prepared. While at the hospital, I guess the rule of thumb is that only close family members and friends are allowed.

In other words if you belong to a professional football team, try to not invite the entire squad to come over and celebrate. There’s a time and place for everything. This rule applies stronger if you play rugby.

4. What’s in a name?

I’m not sure if this a thing or not but I know of very few guys who are strongly-opinionated when naming a child. I’d like to believe that most men have a more macro, higher level view in naming their children that as long as it means something nice and isn’t after a football player they loathe, it’s fine. 

I personally feel that a child’s name must be simple enough to be pronounced, spelled and remembered. It is fully understandable that some fathers are simply die-hard on certain names and at least in Malaysia, it is always them who register the name of the child while the mother is in confinement. 

But look again into the eyes of your wife and tell me you don’t see the love of a mother who fully deserves the right to name her child. Or at least have her choice mixed with yours; as long as it’s no more than 140 characters.

When my wife proposed a name for our child, I naturally had no objection and this was further enforced after I’d witnessed what she went through during labor. At that point she can rename me if she wants.

5. Mothercare and Fatherbroke

Unbeknownst to many, the babywear industry is governed by a cartel headquartered in the depths of the Amazon which controls the pricing of goods worldwide and plants articles like “Why affordable, non-organic swaddles can cause rashes to your baby, AND YOU?!” in the media.

Well at least that’s what the conspiracy theorist in me thinks. The rational side of me believes that baby companies are rich enough as they are thus we need to be prudent in purchasing their products so that the wealth of the world is better distributed. 

It doesn’t hurt to buy a decent amount of clothing for your child ahead of the delivery but bear in mind that there will be gifts from kindhearted friends and families in the form of babywear. Not to mention that infants grow fast and before you know it, they can already fit into your office pants.

If you have overbought, however, fear not as hand-me-downs is a regular practice in the world of baby management. Just hide the all pictures of the kid’s older brother or sister in the same attire.

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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