I have tried not to make Didsbury Dad a pregnancy blog. I am preparing to fail in my attempts at not being a baby bore BUT a delivery so chilled Occado could have made it, followed by 6 days on a ward with Wythenshawe’s wonderful staff and eclectic clientele has… whilst dealing with the roller coaster of Didsbury Son’s emotions and being one of the few post natal dads to have sailed past 21, let alone 30 40 something – whilst losing touch with the real world for a week and fawning limply over my two little potato heads and re-marvelling at female fortitude, anatomy and tenacity and finding myself surrounded by baby experts at every turn and kissed just about everyone in M23 whether they liked it or not and let Didsbury Son sneak a 15 movie on the video in a giddy haze as I have lived on biscuits and crisps for a week (my greens have been Cheese and Onion); Whilst learning more about life, friends and social media and then kissing everyone in Didsbury Village and grinning like Didsbury Son with a praised piece of artwork .
All life goes through a Manchester maternity ward. Didsbury Wife has just spent several days sharing a space with a range of Mancunians that sing the diversity of the city. I am sure they looked at our Hessian bag of Alpro snacks and muttered “Didsbury”; I have sat back with twin 1 or twin 2 and enjoyed the show.
I marveled at the new father next to me who would only come in if his girlfriend got the TV working. He lay on the bed, curtains drawn watching ITV to recreate home between fag breaks. Having listened through a curtain on Saturday I now know that X Factor would not work on radio.
The Polish woman opposite slept brilliantly, the only woman on the ward undisturbed by her baby’s cries as she snored consistently between (her own) feeds. Her unwavering face was kind but she bore the weary look of annual childbirth interrupting hard work. Her Slavic stoic stance contrasted with the shrill nasal drawl of visiting Mancs showering Adidas and Nike on new babies and their junior parents. I have smiled knowingly with all the grandparents, knowing the majority were my contemporaries and would remember The International rather than The Warehouse Project or The Kardomah. Thus, we have spent the week hanging out with the people with whom Didsbury Wife, Didsbury Son and I will share all of our milestones over the next few decades.
The greatness of a maternity ward is that everyone is equal and the potential clash of so many cultures dissolves in an oxytocin-driven, testosterone snipped haze of relief.
Everyone is hopeful – whether main ward, TCU or ICU. Everyone is friendly and supportive ; we are all either ecstatic or thinking there but for the grace of… and all Gods are Here. I munched my bagel with Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Atheists, our cultural non-competitiveness providing a blueprint. keep everyone sleep-deprived and besotted and there will be no trouble. Over mini teats and sterilising units I have eaten Polish, Japanese and Walkers with new brothers in cord-snipping and have cooed, consoled and cuddled babies with easy and difficult lives ahead of them once they leave the ante-womb of the postnatal ward.
My little wonders still feel as though they are mine on loan and I squint at them for hours, inhaling their scents and wondering which one will like my pants on the head, finger-pulling best gags. I look forward to the chance for a Saturday morning mooch with Didsbury Son and me sharing the pram-pushing, shoulder riding and hand holding duties.
I feel a bit of a fraud. All the clichés at which I scoffed, all the sappy wet-eyed new dads I ignored and all the joy with a much smaller Didsbury Son that I had forgotten have re-enveloped me in a syrupy cocoon with the most wonderful aroma.
I can’t wait to re-read this with milk spattered clothes and sleepless, red-rimmed eyes around Christmas, whilst Didsbury Son is trying to convince me everyone in year 7 is getting a tattoo and a Blackberry from “Santa”. It will remind how wonderful this tiny week 1 world is – when the colour of a nappy filler is a cause for celebration and each sneeze, hiccup, finger squeeze and eye open is a cause of genuine joy.