Fatherhood is a journey unlike any other. Ups, downs, right and wrong, good and bad, happy and sad. There are no easy answers. There is only one certainty: change is going to happen whether you like it or not. Most importantly, though, fatherhood will teach you the greatest things in life: love your wife (and your kids), work hard to provide for the ones you care about, and be kinder than necessary because of who deserves it the most.
I’m here to give you an honest assessment of what the first year with a new baby will show you about your new little one, your relationship, also yourself. Here are 7 things I learned in my first of being a Dad.
1. Your wife is just as lost as you are.
One common thing men fail to realize is that if this is your wife/ significant other's first child she is in the same boat as you; excited, a little scared, hopeful. No amount of babysitting or “maternal instinct” prepares you for parenthood. She just pushed or got your child cut out of her body and now everyone is looking at her to feed and nourish that baby. Be her helpmate. Change the diapers, ask the nurse questions and be ok with failing so you both learn and help each other through this parenting journey.
2. This is different than anything you’ve ever done.
Being a first-time father is like nothing you’ve ever done before. I know you’ve probably heard that a million times but what does that actually mean? You are now responsible for an infant and for the first couple of months a recovering wife. You will be tired, frustrated, and not know what to do next and that’s ok. As you and your significant other will find a routine it will get easier and you’ll become more aware of what your baby needs.
3. Take advice with a grain of salt
Everyone who gives you advice will caveat it with “every baby is different”… and then proceed to tell you what they did for their kids that now applies to all babies. Now don’t get me wrong some things are constant with all kids (i.e., staying patient and being consistent), but I argue coming up with a plan that fits you and your situation is best. This allows you and your wife to figure out what YOUR baby needs and apply the advice, you will almost certainly be given, where you see fit. Now given that this entire post is my advice… do with it what you will.
4. Find time to give your wife time
Your wife just carried a child (parasite) in her for “insert any amount of time”. She wasn’t able to drink, if she’s into that, eat certain foods, do certain things. Talk about easy date ideas for when the baby is finally here. While the timing may vary on when you all will be comfortable leaving the baby with someone else. With a little forward-thinking and creativity, you can bring almost all of her favorite things home. This not only makes her feel special but with the new baby rightfully getting all the attention, it gives you and your wife to grow your connection in this new phase of your relationship.
It took one and a half kids to figure this one out. If you take nothing else from this post please take note of this one. There will be moments when you’ve done all the things… changed the diaper, given them food, given them their favorite stuffy, burped them cuddled them, swaddled them literally all the things, and your baby will still be screaming. It’s in those moments you MUST take a pause and reset. The pause allows you a moment to take a deep breath and realize you have done all the basics. The reset gives you a fresh mindset on what could be making your little one uncomfortable.
6. Childbirth is expensive
I would be remiss if I didn’t include this section in the post. Here is a breakdown of the cost of a healthy, no complication delivery in a hospital from HealthCare.gov:
And this is only an average, the cost from one hospital to another can vary greatly. All this to say don’t be blindsided by the cost of childbirth. Even with insurance, it may cost more than you think. I would take a look at your health insurance summary of benefits or even better call your insurance provider and make them explain what they do and do not cover.
7. Enjoy every second
During this first year, your baby will learn to roll over, sit up, crawl, and eventually walk. You will be amazed at how quickly they learn and how much they change in just a short period of time. Take a million pictures and cherish the little things because one day you'll be driving and the realization you have a six-year-old will hit you at a four-way intersection.
It can be a lot of work caring for a baby, but it is also an incredibly rewarding experience. You will create precious memories and bonds that will last a lifetime. Enjoy this special time with your little one and wife, it goes by faster than you think!