The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

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Never be honest...just tell them it’s all great

Your hygiene standards slip. The first time the baby vomits on your duvet cover, you’ll strip the entire bedding and put it in the wash. After a few days, you simply accept your duvet cover will from now on be covered in human sick and you sleep quite happily in it.

You cherish every minute you’re not with your baby. But you can’t admit this in public because it makes you sound like a bad person .

People with grown-up children, who’ve gone through this hell and emerged the other side, will take great delight in telling you just how bad it is. There will always be, from them, at some point in the exchange, the standard gag: ‘Don’t worry, it gets easier... in about 18 years’. You laugh politely and pretend you haven’t heard that line before.

Don’t under any circumstances tell you’re wife she’s not yet lost her baby fat.

If your wife breastfeeds, bosoms will no longer be a part of the body to fantasise about. Instead they will mildly horrify you.

You spend hundreds of pounds on toys. You then realise, with crushing disappointment, that your baby is equally as happy, if not more so, playing with the outer peeled-off layer of a leek or some pasta shoved in a Tupperware container.

You will, at some point, pull a muscle in your back fiddling with an Isofix car-seat base. It doesn’t matter the guy in the shop assured you it is ‘incredibly easy’ to get in and out.

Don’t, under any circumstances, go on Facebook and look at friends’ pictures. You’ll end up hating that young childless couple travelling around South America for a year posting photos of themselves swimming in a lagoon looking tanned, joyous and carefree. You, meanwhile, are sat bleary-eyed on the settee, taking a paracetamol for your headache, attempting to rock a baby suffering from colic back to sleep.

People will say ‘ooh, doesn’t he/she look like you?’ You 100 per cent won’t be able to see it.

Your house becomes a tip. There is clutter everywhere. When you get home from work, you’ll have to clean. If you dare raise this or complain, your wife will say, dramatically, ‘What, you expect me to clean as well as keep a baby alive?’ To answer yes at this point would be an error.

Used to enjoy reading books? Bad news. It will be around half a year before you read another. If the baby sleeps in your room, in its Moses basket by the bed - as most do for the first six months – you aren’t allowed the light on after 7pm. You will also get to know every single floorboard in the house that creaks when trod upon and will creep to the toilet in the middle of the night with the care and caution of an SAS soldier on a high-risk mission in a particularly hazardous district of Afghanistan, lest you wake the baby.

If you have a pet you no longer really care about it. I last stroked the cat in late March. Instead the pet now sits dolefully in the corner thinking, ‘I just don’t get it, they used to like me’, while leafing through Yellow Pages for the RSPCA number.

At home, you are happy to let your wife do the lion’s share of caring for the baby. Yet in public places, you become weirdly proud of your offspring and demand it’s you who carries her. Obviously if it needs its nappy changing, you hand it back to the wife.

When you go to a restaurant, you no longer book a table for 8pm but instead go at 5 . You’re scared stiff your baby will start screaming and every single diner in the place will stare icily at you and mutter under their breath how stupid and selfish it is to bring a baby into a restaurant.

If your wife breastfeeds be prepared for her bosoms to be on view most of the time. She will whip ‘em out anywhere and everywhere, without hesitation or embarrassment. You will implore her to ‘cover them up a bit’ because you can see a sleazy-looking chap a couple of tables away in the coffee shop looking over. She takes no notice. She is also privately desperate for someone to challenge her about breastfeeding in public so she can have a row about how it’s the most natural thing in the world and you have no right to tell me when and where to do it you outdated dinosaur.

Before long, she’ll get broody and talk about wanting another baby. The thought of going through all this again horrifies you.

Within months, she’ll start talking about nurseries and schools. She will suggest moving house to get into ‘the right catchment area’. You think she’s bonkers but can’t say this.

Colleagues where you work will say ‘bring your baby in, we want to see him/her’. Don’t do this, for they don’t really mean it. It’s important to remember at all times that the only people who care about your baby are you, your wife, and immediate family. No one else is really mithered, so it’s best to avoid telling too many baby-related anecdotes. (‘Our Mary ate her first solid food today’ “Really? That’s great, but could you get a move on photocopying those files - I need them in the next 20 minutes”)

You’ll dress a child in outfits you can’t stand to keep a relative happy. So you’ll stick him/her in that ridiculous outfit Aunt Barbara bought just because Aunt Barbara is visiting. After that, you drop the outfit off at a charity shop.

You’ll want to kill, in gruesome and violent fashion, the bloke who invented poppers on baby grows. No matter how many times you put your child in a baby grow you will inevitably miss a popper - usually around the crotch area where it gets more complicated than a NASAdesign for a new Space Shuttle - and have to start all over again.

You’ll spend a fortune on the pram. Looking for a pram is mind-blowing. There are more makes and models than in a car showroom. As rule of thumb, just do what the wife wants. If not, you’ll still be being blamed in a year’s time.

Finally, friends about to become parents will seek advice and ask what it’s like to have a baby.

Never be honest – tell them it’s great.