15 years ago, I became a father. Our son Noah was born at the old Mercy Hospital in East Melbourne. It was one of the best days of my life – equalled only by the birth of Noah’s younger brother and sister. And when he was just three or four days old, I remember leaving the hospital with Cath to take our baby home. I remember the nervous energy, the butterflies. And I remember the fear.
It’s one of the most precious times in your life, but leaving the hospital with a tiny newborn is also one of the most terrifying. As an exhausted Cath got into the passenger seat, it was my job to buckle up Noah in the back. I reckon it took me an hour.
Was the seat fitted properly? Was he buckled in tight? What happens to the seat if I take a curve too quickly? Should I check the instructions just one more time?
The next few days and weeks at home were a sleep-deprived blur of visitors, cuddles, feeding, nappies, bath times and bedtimes. And chaos.
We marvelled at our perfect, sleeping baby one moment – and panicked with our crying, screaming baby the next. One thing I do remember very clearly is our first visit to the maternal and child health nurse. Our saviour.
Were we doing the parenting thing right? Was Noah fed enough, big enough, getting enough sleep? These were the important questions she was able to answer – and she put us immediately at ease.
There was one more piece of advice she provided.
And it wasn’t about our baby. It was about us, as parents. She told us that it’s okay to be a bit of a mess.