Having a baby is like winning a goldfish at a fair.
At first you are exhilarated and overjoyed, before, pretty soon, you realise they both do absolutely nothing except open their mouths and beg for food.
And so it is that a week after the arrival of my son, Wilf, I’ve realised I’m not that keen on babies.
I’m not being horrible here or deliberately nasty. I felt exactly the same about Mary when she was a new-born.
Now, I love her to bits. She’s two, she can walk and talk, she’s great. I care for her so much that if there was a choice between saving her or myself from the path of an oncoming lorry, I’d save her - unless it was one of those really big HGVs with the huge wheels, then I’d think twice.
But babies … I mean what do they actually do?
You’d think that after nine months of watching your wife grow increasingly weightier, moodier, and enduring her waking every two hours to go to the toilet and complain how sore her back is (‘can you rub it for a bit?’ Me, caringly: “It’s 3.35am and I’m at work in three hours – rub your own bloody back”), there would be something worthwhile and redeeming at the end of it.
But what you actually get is a tiny human being whose only mission, it seems, is to make your life even more miserable than it was before.
Because of this I have to admit that I’m maybe not treating my second child with the same adoration and dedication that I displayed to my first.
When my daughter Mary was born I spent endless hours on the sofa, holding her close to my body. I took my top off (calm down ladies) so we could have the skin-on-skin time experts say is so important to child development and increases and accelerates that special bond between parent and child. I was so loving towards Mary that Mrs Canavan had to apply for a special order from the local magistrates court to get her off me.
Since Wilf entered the world, however, I think I’ve picked him up five times.
‘Do you want to hold him?’ Mrs Canavan will say occasionally.
“Erm, not really,” I’ll reply, then realising this sounds a little heartless, I’ll hurriedly add, “he looks so comfy where he is and it would be a shame to disturb him.”
I think the problem is – and I’d forgotten this – babies are so tremendously dull.
They do nothing. A week after Wilf’s birth he is still doing exactly what he did when he entered the word – crying, sleeping, then crying again. Give me a week and I’m pretty sure I could master the art of curling, paint the back bedroom, and learn trombone. But with him, nothing. Seven days on the planet and he isn’t even able to help out with some of the lighter household chores, like putting a dark wash on or descaling the kettle.
Mrs Canavan is breast-feeding again, so, as happened with the first child, I have to get used to her walking around with one of her bosoms hanging out. So often is she flashing her assets in public I’ve suggested she just save herself the hassle and stop wearing clothes altogether.
On our first public outing with our second child (re-reading that sentence it makes it sound like we’re Royalty), we went to a coffee shop.
No sooner had we sat than Mrs Canavan announced she’d feed Wilf and began unhooking her bra and wafting her left breast in the air, while an elderly bloke seated at the table opposite shifted uncomfortably and attempted to fix his gaze at an imaginary speck of dust on the ceiling.
I don’t even think Wilf needed feeding. I think Mrs Canavan – who is very passionate about the whole breast-feeding thing – just wanted someone to challenge her. Her dream in life is for an individual to object, so she can have a lengthy and heated row with them about the rights and wrongs of the matter. (Customer in coffee shop: ‘Could you please for the love of god put your bazookas away – I’m trying to enjoy a cappuccino here’. An outraged Mrs Canavan: ‘I think you’ll find it is illegal to ask a women to leave a public place such as a café because she is keeping her child alive!’ Me, wincing, with my hand over my face: “Oh my god, this is so embarrassing.”)
I’ve got to say that, apart from the boredom, chronic sleep deprivation, and changing nappies approximately 27 times a day, having a baby – compared to having a two-year-old at any rate - is actually pretty straightforward. They don’t move, so you can use them as coasters for drinks (cold drinks only, hot ones tend to leave a mark as I discovered when I placed a teapot on his forehead on Monday) and you can plonk them on a kitchen surface or the lounge coffee table, nip off to do a household chore and be fairly confident they’ll still be there when you return.
The biggest problem has proven to be vomit.
I had forgotten just how much a new-born loves to eject the contents of its own stomach through its mouth, and always, without fail, chooses to do it either, a, as you pick them up, or, b, just after you’ve changed them into a clean baby-grow.
During the early hours the other night, shattered, miserable as sin, and with fatigue flooding through every part of my body – in other words very much how I feel if ever I accidentally watch Mrs Brown’s Boys – I changed Wilf’s outfit seven times on the trot because each time he vomited all over himself.
The first time it was cute. By the fifth time I had an irrational urge to lightly slap him around the face.
I’m sure he will grow on me but for the time-being it’s not much fun.
Must dash now, I’ve a wash to put on.