Are you expecting a little one? Is it your first?
Hopefully, you are scouring the internet trying to find out as much as you can. That was me a year ago, trying to find out what it was going to be like. I had some idea as my brother is a father of 4, and I had asked him for advice as well. I started this blog as a way to keep myself honest about preparing for our daughter’s arrival. Now I am six months into fatherhood and want to share my perspective. Advice? Experiences? Call it whatever you want. Here we go:
#1 Take care of your Wife!
This is the most important thing. She is doing an incredible thing. She will continue to do incredible things and it’s your job to support her. I’m not just talking about supporting her with taking care of your child (though you aboslutely SHOULD do that too). You have to make sure she doesn’t feel left behind, or playing second fiddle. And it can happen becuase babies need a lot of care and they can very easily become the center of attention. But your marriage didn’t end the day the baby was born. Grand sweeping (Romantic) gestures like flowers are nice but little things can have a tremendous effect. Something as simple as making sure you kiss your wife goodbye last when you leave for work and kissing her first when you get home each day can really make an impact. Give her some time to do normal things (like take a shower, take a nap or check Facebook). Make emergency runs to the store for (insert baby energency need here). Take care of the baby as much as you can (see #2) without attitude or groaning, please. But continue to be the loving caring guy you are throughout her pregnancy and during those long 6 weeks after delivery. You are a loving and caring guy throughout the pregnancy right?
#2 Spend time with your kid everyday
Early on newborns don’t do much but eat, sleep, and poop. It’s hard to interact with a sleeping baby (And you had better not wake that baby up when its sleepy time or you will feel the wrath of your wife!). And if your wife is breast-feeding, you my friend are pretty much left with one option to spend some quality time with the little one early on. Diaper Duty! So figure out how it works. What to do. And change as many of those suckers as you can. Become the diaper expert! But be prepared – you get pooped on! At some point, you will get peed on! Maybe even on a DAILY basis! Embrace it and enjoy the time with your little bundle of joy. It’s is actually quite funny when you really think about it. You and your wife huddled around the changing table at 3 am and WHAMMO exploding diarhea across the room so much it scares the dog!
If your wife is not breastfeeding or also pumping its also a great idea to take one of those late night feedings. Especially on a Friday or Saturday night, but really any night of the week is great! My wife and I had a system where we both pretty much took care of our daughter. I would change the diaper and my wife would feed her. My wife also switched to pumping exclusively so I tried to help as much as I could with feedings.
The benefit of all those dirty diaper changes and feedings is that I got to know my daughter pretty well. I know the face she makes right before, during and right after she has pooped. So I can head off that diaper change before it gets too messy. I have a good idea differentiating a hunger cry and a something else cry (my wife is an expert). I know when she might be ready for a nap. I also know what makes her laugh, which leads to…
#3 Be Silly!
Some of you may find this easier than others. Try to let go of your inhibitions and don’t be self-conscious. When you get that first baby smile or squeal of laughter, you’ll probably have no problem doing your best cookie monster or other muppet impersonation. Make sure you are in good enough physical shape to pick up your kid and do all the Dad things that are sanctioned by the wife. Also you’re gonna have to polish up on the physical humor. Brace yourself – you’re gonna have to dance, or at the very least sway back and forth. Trust me, you’ll do anything to get the baby to sleep! You’re pretty much gonna do anything to entertain the little one. And as they get older they like it when Daddy makes a fool out of himself. And secretly or openly you’re gonna like it as well.
#4 Take care of your Wife!!!!
He already said this, right? Well, it’s worth repeating and here’s why: You can’t imagine what pregnancy, birth, or taking care of a child is like from her perspective. She probably hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since at least the early days of her 2nd trimester, maybe even since she got pregnant. She is recovering from a major trauma – pushing a human being out of her body into the world. Her insides were literally pushed out and shifted all around. She’s lost lots of blood and that’s just from “normal” labor. If she had a C-section, then she’s recovering from a major surgery where the doctors cut through 8 layers of her tissues, yanked her abdominals apart like curtains and pulled out and moved her organs all around even more. She’s the one who will be taking care of your child all day while you go back to work, back to school or back to your “ normal” life in a few days. So from what I can see, Mom is a superhero. I do my best to take care of my wife and support her. My daughter adores her, and I love her tremendously. And I don’t always come through, but I try to ensure that those slip-ups are rare. And in order to do that I need to take care of myself, and you, New Daddy, need to take care of yourself. Eat right, get some exercise, make sure to take opportunities to rest when you can. Sleep will be in limited supply, especially during the first month. Get as much as you can. That is what being a Functional Dad and Husband is all about.
(But Jesus interrupted) “But you must not indulge in this charade. Instead, among you, the greatest must become like the youngest and the leader must become a true servant. Who is greater right here as we eat this meal—those of us who sit at the table, or those who serve us? Doesn’t everyone normally assume those who are served are greater than those who serve? But consider My role among you. I have been with you as a servant.”
Luke 22:26-27 (The Voice)