by Stuart Prosser – Medical Director
18 years ago, I was a young first-time father, I was exhausted.
My first child, Noah, was what I would now describe as a ‘high needs’, sleep challenged child. At that point, we went to our General Practitioner crying out for help. What we got was a five-minute consult that left Kay and I feeling like it was our fault- there was nothing wrong with our child, we just had to ‘live with it’. Kay and I walked out of that consult shattered – we wanted anything, a glimmer, hope that this may end. 17 years later One for Women was born, I desperately did not want anyone else to experience what we had experienced on that day.
When I first started on fatherhood, I wish someone had told me that there is no user manual for each child. I often say to parents that babies can not read a user-guide handbook and they definitely can not read a timetable, yet we are consistently wanting them to develop consistent cues and stick to a timetable and establish a routine. In a similar way that we do not do the same thing every day, neonates are unique and change their patterns from day to day. If only they came with a written book of instructions, or better a personalised app that told us what to do. There is nothing more rewarding than having a cuddle with a newborn and meeting their one desire – to have a cuddle with their parent and to feel safe and secure.
Cherish the little stuff. What do I mean by that? When I started on the journey to fatherhood, I thought I would be most proud of their big achievements, but instead I have found that it is the little stuff that brings me most joy. Listening to Angus after years of speech therapy and battling with dyspraxia do a senior debate with Noah was a moment of pure joy, both watching Angus confidently speak but importantly watch Noah reach out to his younger brother to be his teammate. You realise very quickly that you want your kids to be good human beings first (happy second) and everything else is just noise.
Never say no to a hug. When Greta was little, she used to come into bed at 5 o’clock. Greta would start off giving you a cuddle and then you would get her cold feet resting up against you. To begin with, it was frustrating as you would invariably end up almost out of the bed as Greta ended up sideways. But then one day it stops. On the first day you are excited as you did not get your early morning wake up, but then after a week you realise that it is not going to happen anymore and wish you had known that it was going to be the last cuddle. When it comes to your boys, take every cuddle you can get. At some stage you will be that embarrassing Dad (or Mum) – it does not stop me from giving my boys a man hug every so often.
I love the fact that One for Women is Partner friendly, working with families (including older siblings) as they navigate their pregnancy and the early journey into parenthood is a privilege. It is the hardest, but most rewarding role that I have embarked upon. I realise now that I was like so many other new fathers, completely clueless and making it up as I went along. I hope that I can help new parents navigate the challenging and uncertain times that is often experienced in the first few weeks as a parent.
As the One for Women village grows, hopefully there will be many more positive stories like those that have been shared by Jono, Lee, Jim, Adam and Steven in the last week.
If you missed them, please see the links below: