Chest a minute... this wasn’t in a baby guide!
It’s funny how a baby changes you.
A week ago, for instance, I daresay the thought had never entered Mrs Canavan’s head that she would enter the local coffee shop and whip out her bosoms.
But this is what she did the other day … and she didn’t even have the baby with her.
A little joke there - chortle - but the first bit is true.
On our first venture out of the house with four-day-old Mary, we had a gentle traipse into town.
It is only a 10-minute walk but Mrs Canavan - still a bit tender as you can imagine - needed a rest, so into the cafe we headed.
It was just after dinner-time and the place was crowded. I purchased the drinks, handed them to my wife, nipped upstairs to the loo (I’d had a large cup of tea an hour or so before and my bladder isn’t what it used to be), but, blow me, when I arrived back at our table, Mrs Canavan had her top pulled down and her right bazooka was on view.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ I hissed, stunned that my wife had decided to become a naturist without consulting me. Just what had they put in her coffee?
“I’m going to breastfeed,” she replied.
‘Here? Here? You can’t,’ I replied, desperately. ‘There are people around.’
I looked to my left and saw a bloke in his early 50s staring straight at me, or, on closer examination, staring slightly to my left, exactly where my wife and her breasts were in fact.
I stepped into his eye-line and gave him a look that said ‘back off pal, those don’t belong to you’.
“Would you stop being so silly and sit down and drink your latte,” admonished Mrs Canavan. “It’s perfectly normal.” I stood there, not really knowing how to respond. She was clearly not going to put them away so I spluttered, ‘well, just cover yourself up a little for goodness sake’ and then sat, rather awkwardly, scanning the room to make sure no one was taking pictures.
I knew I was being irrational, of course. I know breastfeeding in public is perfectly normal, but it is still a shock the first time your wife does it. I mean, nobody has previously seen that part of her anatomy other than myself and probably Derek, a chap from the gym with big muscles whom I’m convinced Mrs Canavan had an affair with three years ago (she always arrived home late from her Tuesday zumba class with a strange faraway look on her face and her Lycra shorts all creased), yet now they’re suddenly on view for all and sundry to gawp at.
After Mary had stopped sucking and Mrs Canavan had re-dressed, we went to a shop to do some shopping, which is often what you do in a shop.
At the till, the lady serving us could see we had a pram and asked how old the baby was. ‘Five-days,’ said my wife.
“No, never, really?” said the cashier, with such disbelief it was as if she’d just been informed that she and her immediate family must relocate to a small bungalow in the Outer Hebrides by 5pm.
Leaving her cash register wide open, a huge stash of 20 quid notes showing, she virtually ran from behind the till to where we were standing, cooing ‘ooh, let’s have a look at the little darling’.
There were four other people behind us in the queue waiting to be served. The man next in line was dressed in a suit and tie, and purchasing only one item - a bag of cat litter. He looked in a real rush and I could only imagine how furious he was at this turn of events.
He took a step towards me and I was about to turn and apologise (even though this situation clearly wasn’t my fault), when he said ‘can I have a look at the little’un too?’ Then the rest of the queue wandered over and started peaking into the pram as if they were looking at a new giraffe down the zoo. I should have charged entrance fee.
The same thing happened when we went to a cafe the following day. Everyone in the place came to talk to us. On previous outings, no one has ever given Mrs Canavan or I the time of day. Now, just because we suddenly have this tiny extra human being in tow, we have never been more popular. It won’t be long before I’m signing autographs (‘Dear Billy, all the very best, yours, Mary’s father’).
One woman, who had only entered the cafe to collect a takeaway sandwich, spoke to us for fully 35 minutes about her two young children and how she had raised them. She was very nice and well-meaning but I couldn’t help feel narked that as she droned on about the importance of booking a nursery place early, my ham and cheese omelette was going stone cold.
So, in conclusion, my early impressions of fatherhood are this; you become a celebrity and you’d better get used to other people seeing your wife’s chest.
I think we’d like our next delivery to be a fish pie
One of the best things about having a baby is that, it seems, we no longer have to cook for ourselves.
Since Mary arrived 10 days ago there has been a kind of meals on wheels service to our front door, with relatives and friends dropping off various plates of food.
Every time the doorbell goes someone is stood there with a chicken pie or a corned beef hash. On Tuesday, the window cleaner turned up with a bowl of beef stroganoff.
All are hugely appreciated, though some are better than others. For instance, my Aunty Elsie made a lasagne which was, frankly, terrible. I rang to thank her for ‘a wonderful meal’ while scraping it into the kitchen bin.
It’s awfully kind of people to do this, and I don’t wish them to stop (apart from my Aunty Elsie), but it does seem odd. I mean having a baby is a little trying, sure, but it doesn’t exactly prevent you from leaving the house, purchasing food and then cooking it.
Back in my dad’s era, the father of a new-born child got one day off work and that was it. Now, generally speaking, a bloke can have paternity leave of up to two weeks, so us modern-day couples do have it a lot easier.
That said, if anyone would like to drop off a fish pie in the next couple of days, feel free. Thanks in advance.