My first born bailed out a few weeks early, two days before the date set for my wife’s baby shower. That sort of created a scheduling conflict, especially since wife and baby had to stay in the hospital for three days. So, as a result, our daughter was present at the re-scheduled shower. We got a great card from one of our friends; it said, ‘So you have a baby now? How do you like your new boss?’ Truer words have never been printed on a greeting card.
Having this demanding little person suddenly taking over your life can be daunting for new dads. It can even be daunting to dads who already have children, since we tend to forget a lot of the newborn stuff in the interim between births. So, how about a quick Dad refresher course?
Newborns are surprisingly break-resistant, so don’t be afraid to hold them. Truth be told, the baby wants you to hold him or her.
- Women who have recently give birth are, for lack of a better term, cuckoo as a Swiss clock. OK, just kidding—but they are going through some serious hormonal and emotional peaks and valleys. I mean this in the kindest and most appreciative sense. Remember that it is a difficult time for her and do not get frustrated. Listen when you can, pretend to listen when you can’t, and watch for symptoms of post-partum depression.
- Be supportive regarding breast feeding. I failed miserably in that regard, and I wish I could go back and do it over now. I will save the details for another story, but just don’t make my mistake by getting grossed out or neurotic, and help her out with breastfeeding.
- Help with the household, including other kids. Mom and baby just went through a big event, and they both need time to get over it. Remind her to forget about cleaning up and get some rest.
- The addition of a new baby to the family is going to turn your lives upside down, even if you already have kids. Do your best to keep things sane and stress free while you learn to live with this new person who now controls your existence.
Getting through the first couple of months is the hardest, but being a father never truly becomes easy. Just get to know your new child, help mom out as much as you can, and cherish the experience. Those bossy newborns quickly become bossy toddlers, bossy children, and, in the case of my daughter, a bossy 12 year old. Cherish each phase as it comes.