10 things I wish I knew as a first time dad.
1. There’s plenty of time for visitors…later.
Everyone is so excited when a new baby becomes a part of a family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I don’t know how or why but it’s become tradition that we call everyone as soon as the baby arrives and have them stop by. But looking back, I wish I realized that there was a lot of time for visits later. I didn’t realize how tired and anxious my wife and I would be even in those first few hours/days. Also, my daughter arrived two days before our planned C-section was scheduled. In fact, we were right in the middle of packing a hospital bag and getting last minute things done when my wife went into labor. Needless to say, it was chaotic those first few days. I was constantly greeting visitors and going back and forth to pick up or buy things that we forgot. I wish I got to take it all in and be in the moment more.
2. Look out for symptoms of PPD for both my wife and I.
I never even thought that postpartum depression was something I needed to worry about for my wife, let alone myself. I was never warned about it or told to look out for symptoms. I naively assumed since my wife and I had planned this pregnancy and wanted a baby so much that PPD was just not on my radar. I was so wrong and completly blindsided.
3. It’s okay to ask for help, REAL help.
My wife and I did almost everything entirely alone. Looking back, I wish I would have used every visitor to the max. Sorry, but no one needs someone to watch a calm newborn. The house was a mess, things needed to be packed away or put together, laundry was piling up, dishes were overflowing in the sink, and we had no time to even catch up.
4. Don’t feel guilty for doing or using something that makes your life as a parent easier.
My wife and I felt so guilty to use a pacifier or anything that had a stigma attached to it. Whether you’re co-sleeping, bottle feeding, or using a pacifier, do whatever makes your life easier as long as it doesn’t harm your baby. Those first few months were extremely hard, harder than I ever imagined. Looking back, I wish I cared less about what people thought or I was more open minded about making my life easier instead of assuming I was being a bad or lazy parent.
5. There’s nothing you can do to make your baby sleep more, let nature take its course.
I can’t tell you how many precious minutes of my life I have wasted Googling ways for my daughter to sleep better or going over theories on why she slept one night and trying to duplicate everything the next day hoping for the same results. As long as your kid is healthy, sleep is up and down and that’s a part of life. What ever asshole tells you that their child slept through the night from the second they were born and never ever gives trouble is a liar.
6. Six weeks postpartum isn’t when things go back to normal, it’s when shit really hits the fan.
Everyone makes it seem like the first few weeks of parenthood is the hardest part and that things get progressively better with time. So my wife and I counted each week that passed by anxiously in hopes that we’d get more sleep, we’d have more time for ourselves and each other and that life would just generally improve or get back to “normal”. This idea, that six weeks postpartum is when things start falling into place really f***ed us up. Because it’s a lie. There are sleep regressions, teething, colds, and so many things that throw you for a loop as a parent.
7. My wife’s body isn’t the only one that will experience change.
When my wife was pregnant I had planned on pigging out with her but she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had a very strict diet. I went on this diet with her as a gesture of solidarity but it ended up changing my life. I got in really good shape mentally and physically and was more aware of the foods I was eating. I expected to stay on track but soon after my daughter was born, I stopped exercising and eating right because life was so hectic. I developed what’s coined as a “dad-bod” and physically and mentally I was at my worse.
8. I could love my child and miss my old life simultaneously.
I took for granted the freedom I had before becoming a dad. I thought I’d still have the same life once my daughter was born. I remember my wife and I thinking that we were going to have the most epic summer ever (my daughter was born in the spring). I don’t know what made us think that we could take her any and every where like she was just an accessory. There were times I really missed my life before, even simple things like working out or going to the movies were impossible. But either way, I love my daughter like crazy.
9. Sleep deprivation, depression, and lack of self-care are perfect conditions to ruin my marriage.
No one says this enough, but having a baby can take toll on your marriage. Although my wife and I did everything “by the book”, we were still vulnerable to the stress and problems that happen when your marriage is no longer first. Not sleeping, eating right, or getting to feel like yourself is the perfect recipe for disaster. We were angry, easily annoyed, and stressed out and we took that out on each other.
10. Sometimes kids are dicks.
My wife and I thought we had complete control over the way our daughter acted or would act as she grew up. We thought, “our kid would never misbehave or act out.” Which is so laughable now. Kids will scream and cry for no reason or throw a tantrum regardless of your parenting style. I was always trying to figure out a method behind the madness and there isn’t one. Kids will act out and kids will cry.
What would you add to the list?