It has been almost a year since my last post...................and there is a valid reason for my hiatus..............
Her name is Leila.
From the moment our daughter arrived last November, my world changed. In the months leading up to her birth and during the months following, all the things I previously considered 'important' (i.e. work, football and this blog) have subsequently taken a back seat whilst I have tried getting to grips with fatherhood. It's definitely something that you have to experience to really understand what it's like. You think you have a good idea what it's like but the reality is something else entirely. Nothing really can quite prepare you for it.
In the months leading up to the birth, I had a lot of well-meaning people trying to prepare me for fatherhood by telling me those same old cliches: 'say goodbye to your social life' and 'get your sleep in now' but I just politely smiled and nodded as you do, not really taking it in. On some level, I think I was just waiting for the pregnancy to end so my life to get back to normal.....................but I was of course just kidding myself! Once that baby arrives, the life you once had is no more...................but I wouldn't change it for anything. Don't get me wrong, there have been sacrifices and it is certainly one of the most challenging things we have ever done..................but it is also the most rewarding.
When you hold your child in your arms for the first time, the feeling is difficult to describe. I didn't cry or anything (just in case you were wondering) but the feeling of being in that delivery room is quite overwhelming. All the way through the delivery you are just hoping that everything goes according to plan and that she comes out healthy, with everything where it should be. So when she finally arrived and all was well, I was so happy but also incredibly relieved. Not only relieved that the baby was fine but that Aicha was ok too. Watching her battle through almost 24 hours of labour is something I will never forget. As the father you feel so helpless as there is nothing you can do to ease the pain. Seeing her do that was one of those most amazing things I have ever seen.
Leila is now 8 months old and from the day we arrived home with her there has never been a dull moment. She makes us laugh every day. Those first few weeks were some of the toughest of my life though. This was mainly due to the lack of sleep and the constant fear of doing something wrong but once you begin to find your feet and get into a routine it does become easier. You just get used to being tired all the time after a while! To be fair though we have been quite lucky with Leila. She sleeps really well (once she eventually falls asleep!), she eats whatever is put in front of her and she rarely cries. She can whinge sometimes and does have a temper when things don't go her way....................but I just put that down to being her mothers daughter! That's where she gets her beauty from too!
A friend once asked me how much my life has changed since becoming a father and to be honest it was difficult to answer at the time because I couldn't remember what life was like before Leila came along! As a parent, your life revolves around your children but it doesn't mean that you don't have a life anymore...............it just means you have to plan ahead a lot more. The first 3 months following the birth I lived like a hermit I grant you, but in the months following I have pretty much picked up where I left off before the pregnancy. I'm still playing my football, I'm still working hard at the gym, I still have time to catch up with my mates and still can afford the odd trip away here and there. I obviously can't do the spontanious things anymore like going for drinks at the drop of a hat but providing I have plenty of notice, my social life is not much different. I have to pick and choose sometimes if I get invited to a lot of things at the same time, over the course of a weekend for example, but that doesn't happen that often.
The main difference is at home. Our lives at home have become quite regimental, with both of us now sharing the night shifts and feeding responsibilities, but there is always something to do. Gone are the days where I could just come home from work, put my feet up and watch TV for hours. When I come home from work now it's like starting a second job! But again, once you get into the routine it becomes your life and therefore the norm.
I never really appreciated the value of 'free time' before. You know, those moments where you can just sit there and do nothing. If I'm doing the evening shift, those moments come at approximately 8:30pm every day once Leila is asleep. In those early days you never knew when you would get free time (if any) but now our routine is in place we are guaranteed at least a few hours free time, which is always something to look forward to I can tell you! The only problem is that I never know what to do during this time! It's good if you are into a tv series or something but most of the time I'm lost. Aicha always has something to watch, as she regularly has about 3 series on the go at once, but for me I spend the first hour scrolling through the tv channels or Netflix before eventually deciding to read something instead!
Things couldn't be much better for us at the moment. Work is going really well, we have a beautiful and healthy daughter, no money problems and our relationship is as strong as ever. I still haven't mastered the language yet though! I understand most things but its my speech that I really need to work on (the swedish that is not the english!). Having Leila in our lives marks the beginning of a new 'Adventure', one that will put my own 'Swedish Adventure' in the shade. I think I will have more personal adventures in the future but as the last 8 months has shown, I will never have the time to document them!
So this is me signing off from one adventure and diving head first into a new one.......................