Good Causes

How Dads Rock helped ease Craig into fatherhood

When Craig Norquay’s partner Debbie fell pregnant with their first child, the Scottish IT worker’s excitement at becoming a father was tempered by apprehension.

Craig, 30, who works for a bank, said, “We set out to fall pregnant and it happened quite quickly. We thought we were pretty confident and well set up, but you can never really be prepared for it. There are books, but no real user manual and every child is different. You worry: are you going to cope? Will you handle the late nights and the feeding?”

Crucially, Craig soon realised that while there is a wealth of resources available for expectant mothers, soon-to-be dads are less well catered for.

That’s when Craig, who lives in Bonnyrigg, a town about 8 miles from Edinburgh, came across Dads Rock. The project, which is supported by funding made possible by National Lottery players, offers advice, support and learning opportunities to men in the months before and after their child is born.

Craig joined the Dads Rock WhatsApp group – a forum where fathers offer advice and support to men about to have a baby.

He said, “[The WhatsApp group] was an incredible source of information. People recommended things like what to pack in hospital bags, things you needed to prepare in the house and the like. One person said ‘make sure you take snacks to the hospital – you won’t have the chance to get a meal in’. It was helpful stuff from people who had already been through it.

“Just putting a question into the chat saying ‘is this normal, is this what we should expect?’ really helps. You can google things and get a million different answers – you never know if they’re valid. The WhatsApp group offers a wealth of knowledge.”

Amelia was born in May 2021. And while he was as prepared as he could be, Craig admits, the addition of a new member of the family took some getting used to. In particular, he had some problems feeding his daughter in the first weeks of her life. He said, “There was a lot of upset, anger and frustration.”

Craig added, “The birth was massive. It doesn’t matter how many books you read, you’re never quite prepared for the change it makes to your life. Not just responding to a new human being, but you’re no longer just you – you’re a dad. In most cases the things you do are done with your child in mind and it’s a huge change.”

When Amelia was 8 weeks old, Craig started to take her to a weekly playgroup for new fathers and their babies organised by Dads Rock. He said, “When I started going it was really just to get out of the house and start speaking to other dads instead of looking at four walls and changing nappies every day. I was finding my feet in the first few weeks. Your life is turned upside down and you hardly know what time of the day it is.”

Amelia is now a happy 2-year-old and Craig and Debbie are engaged. But Craig’s gratitude to Dads Rock meant he was eager to sign up as a volunteer when he heard the project was starting a perinatal service for men.

He said, “As soon as I heard they were looking for volunteers I thought ‘I need to do that because I would have really benefited from that’.”

13th June 2023

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