So last week saw Rachel end her maternity leave and go back to work. She started on an induction week where she was basically working 7-3, Monday to Friday and yours truly was a Stay-at-Home dad for the week. I might have mentioned it. Just for the fun of it, here’s a photo of Isabelle from the week. I love getting the camera out as she roams, and most of my photos come from her doing so.
From here on out though, it’s going to be a little bit different. You see, Rachel is a nurse in A&E, and as such, she does 12.5 hour shifts. Throw in the travel time, and Rachel will basically be out of the house for 13.5 hours. If it wasn’t for the fact she has to use all her annual leave by April, she’d be doing this three times a week. But we’re very lucky in the sense that for the next few months we get to slowly transition into becoming proper working parents.
Since we largely want to be the ones who are looking after Isabelle, Rachel will be requesting to work my days off. This means that from here on out, my days off will mostly consist of being a dad, and our days off together are really going to be precious. This means that when we do get time together, we’re going to be much more mindful of what we do with it. I know we’ve just had almost a year of time together, so this is going to be a difficult transition, but all that time has gone now, so we just have to look forward. The only real time we’re going to be off together will either come from annual leave, or if she happens to get staffed on my working days, in which case we’ll be relying on some form of childcare.
Luckily though, I’m a postman. So quite often I’m home before 2pm every day anyway, so even when I’m in work, we still get time to do plenty of stuff and see each other. Like this Friday I was done pretty early, Rachel picked me up and we went straight to a local play centre. We managed to have a good hour there in which I unsuccessfully tried to build a Lego fort around Isabelle.
My Day With Isabelle
Of course, I still had a day this week where I was the ‘stay-at-home’ dad again. I’m not sure if calling myself that when I’m looking after Isabelle is the correct way of putting it, as people tend to only count it if they do it as their ‘job’ so to speak, so I’m not technically a SAHD, but I dare say you get what I mean
Either way, I wasn’t totally into this day, but I think that was mostly down to the sheer length of it. I knew it was going to be a long slog, and I was more apprehensive about the final few hours than anything else. In terms of that part, I think I was right to be worried.
After last week, Isabelle was accustomed to Rachel being out of the house for most of the day. What she didn’t like was Rachel being out of the house when it was time to sleep for the night. Instead of lovingly accepting the milk from a cup and drifting peacefully into a silent slumber, she instead invoked her inner demon spirit and tried to summon her much more likely father, Satan.
She was, and I put this mildly, utterly inconsolable. If I put her down, she’d scream about it whilst trying to crawl back to me to be picked up. If I picked her up, she’d scream and cry in my face. If I offered her milk, she’d either drink it and continue crying or push it away. I tried it all. But at this point I think she either wanted boob, or more quite possibly, she just wanted her mum.
Of course, I had a lot of my old postnatal depression feelings creep slightly back into view. The usual lovely emotions of disliking her, not really wanting her here, and all that stuff that you may have read about before. I did find myself say out loud “what am I even doing here?” but I knew that was said in a more rhetorical sense than a literal one. I’ve had much worse thoughts flood my head during my time with depression, and fortunately they held the same rhetorical nature.
Eventually I did what has seemed to help when she’s like this. I put headphones on and played music. This helped to drown out the screams and focused my attention on to something else. I put the babycarrier on and just walked around the house with her as she cried and cried for well over an hour. All I could do was try to empathise with her. She was upset that she didn’t have her mum. So I just comforted her the best I could and waited it out.
It’s at this point where you’d think I might be a little resentful of the fact that Rachel still breastfeeds, as I was assuming this was the main reason why she was crying. She even asked me this when she came home and later said “do you wish I hadn’t breastfed?” To which I simply said “I didn’t even think about it.” And in fairness, Isabelle only fed for a couple of minutes when Rachel did get in and straight after she was back to her normal self. Maybe it was just her mum she was missing, and not her boobs.
Either way, no matter how bad I might feel, there is no way I’m going to not want what’s best for Isabelle. I still put her above me even when I don’t like her. So of course I’d rather her have the best option available to her, which, of course is breastmilk. Does it occasionally make my life slightly more difficult? Well inevitably it will, but it’s worth it.
I know this is just another stage in this parenting journey that I have to get through. I know eventually that Isabelle will get used to Rachel coming home that little bit later, and just before Rachel came home, she was starting to cry herself into a sleepy state, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before she actually fell asleep had Rachel been home later. I know Rachel is going to have to do a shift where she’ll be home around 10pm, so that will be the next test before we eventually have to do the much dreaded night shift. I’m already bricking it on that one.
Well, thanks for reading. I will just say before I leave you to it, that my first ever newsletter will be heading out to all the email subscribers within the next week. I’m not totally sure what’s going to be in it, but if you want to get one, feel free to subscribe to it here. Thank you, and maybe I’ll catch you again.