The moment before he popped his head out and started screaming, we thought parenthood would be easy.

You think it’s going to be easy to take your cool stroller out to coffee shops and cafés and playgrounds while wearing your cool clothes with an equally calm and cool child on hip, talking to friends, planning a cool adult dinner party.

This, however, is not how it works out to be. Beau popped out of the womb a dark shade of blue with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck.

You are horrified the first drama of his life is within seconds of being out of the womb. Every moment you pray he stays asleep, for when he wakes, he will want something, but you’ll have no help in hell how to figure it out.

You eye him curiously as he sleeps — he moves and you hide under the cot holding your breath.

What if you break him?  For hours you think anything you do will kill him. Is the milk too hot, is his nappy clean, has the nappy rash morphed into a fatal toxic disease?

Your mother annoys you with the ‘back in my day’ speeches and the way she roughhouses the baby. You snatch the child from her claws and admonish her for being so rough — she could have killed the baby. On the train on the way home, you secretly hope the baby is asleep so you don’t have an opportunity to break him again.

Your partner, looking bedraggled and hysterical, holds the gurgling baby out at you as soon as you walk in the door. “IT’S YOUR TURN,” she screams as she runs out the door in her dressing-gown.

Staring at the baby with one eye, he looks at you and gurgles out a giggle. Then he spits up some and chuckles. You think it’s pretty cool. You let him squeeze your finger with his iron grip and he squeals with delight at your silly facial expressions.

Next thing you know, you’re picking up your five- and four-year-old sons and hurling them into the local swimming pool where they belly-flop in and bounce out laughing, asking to go again… and again.
You think back — it wasn’t that hard really, but each grey hair on your head has a story attached to it and none of them have to do with killer nappy rashes.

info: John Meyer will be guest speaker at the next meeting of the Gay and Married Men’s Association (GAMMA) on Wednesday, March 17. details: Sydney: (02) 9267 4000 or visit www.gamma.org.au.

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