Alright Dad-to-Be, your partner has been expertly growing that baby for the last nine months and is ready to pop. There is a good chance she has been in an excellent mood, has been “organizing” like crazy, and is not uncomfortable at all! As the D-Day rapidly approaches, you will undoubtedly have moments of self-reflection and ask yourself, “Am I ready?” If you answered “Yes,” there’s only one response to that – lol 😂. The short answer is, no, you’re not ready. But, don’t worry, there have been exactly zero people who were actually “ready.”
While you’ll never be ready, you can follow Uncle Scar’s advice and be prepared.
So, while you’re waiting for that first coat of paint to dry in the nursery you finally got around to painting, here are a few things I wish I knew about 10 years ago.
Labor and Delivery
I know what you’re thinking. We’ll show up to the hospital and your job is to stay out of the way and, when the time comes, don’t pass out. While those are both necessary tasks, your work will not end there.
I’ll never forget when it was time for my wife to start pushing, and I assumed I would head north of the equator and start coaching my wife on how to breathe (like she had a stroke and forgot how to breathe) while feeding her ice chips. So imagine my surprise when it was time to push and the nurse walked in, looked at me, and said, “Grab a leg.”
Apparently, the days of husbands staying out in the Waiting Room with a celebratory cigar are over. You will see and experience things you will never forget (Three Words. Closed. Toed. Shoes.), but it is the start of an incredible journey.
Oh and NEVER under any circumstance eat your wife’s ice chips while she’s in labor. While you will find it hilarious, unfortunately, she will not (or so I’ve heard).
(*P.S. – After the baby comes, the delivery’s not quite over. There’s another delivery. It’s just the placenta. It looks gross, but it’s completely normal. I’ll say it one more time, in case you missed it. Closed. Toed. Shoes.)
The Postpartum Mom
As you wrap up your stay at the hospital, you’ve wisely utilized the overnight nursery to get at least a few hours of semi-uninterrupted sleep, pilfered the delivery and/or recovery room of all potentially useful supplies, and finally settled on that uniquely spelled popular name that you love (until they go to find their name on a keychain at Disney World and come back empty handed). You then strap your newborn into their now seemingly ginormous car seat and head for home. By this point, you (hopefully) know your partner well. Unfortunately, you’ve never met your partner after they have just given birth. Their bodies have just performed an amazing miracle, but their hormones are trying to catch up. Spoiler alert, it
may will take a minute.
Known as the 4th trimester – and you only thought there were three (ha!) – this could be the most physically and emotionally exhausting of them all. Not only are you trying to navigate life with a newborn, but your real job is to make sure mom is well cared for.
This new job entails making sure mom is fed, her water glass is always full and feels like a human being. You can help her do this by making sure she gets as much sleep as humanly possible; take over a night time feeding, or be the diaper duty king. Once she’s feeling up to it, encourage her to get out of the house to mindlessly roam Target or grab a cup of coffee with a friend. Don’t worry, you can fly solo for 45 minutes. Believe me, this will be a win for everyone.
Lack of Sleep
Advice that experienced parents love to give expectant parents is “Sleep while you can.” They mean well, they really do. But after three days of no sleep, it doesn’t matter if you’re Rip Van Winkle and you slept 100 years, you’re going to be exhausted. Just know, you will get through it – on your own or with copious amounts of coffee. You’ll be amazed at what you (plus a fair amount of caffeine) are capable of accomplishing.
Managing Extended Family and Friends
There is no one that will love your little one more than your close friends and family. You really do need them to help you through this new transition. Under normal circumstances, having a constant stream of visitors can be a little overwhelming. With current health concerns, you have an entire set of issues to deal with – the upside is everyone is more aware of their surroundings and keeping everything clean and sanitized.
Continually check in with your partner to see how they’re doing with the guests. They’ve just been through a lot and might not be up for visitors or might need to rest.
If people offer to help take them up on it! Whether it’s making a meal or coming to help around the house, the answer is yes! There’s no award for doing it all on your own (I checked), so take all the help you can get.
I promised myself I wouldn’t do it, but here we are. Parents love to tell people without kids everything that’s hard about having kids and then add the exclamation at the end, “But it’s so worth it!” The short answer is yes, having kids is hard and incredibly worth it. The moment you meet your newborn, you will experience a unique love that is indescribable. There is an instantaneous feeling of “I just met you, but I would do anything for you.”
Okay, that first coat of paint on the nursery should be just about dry. Now that you’re armed with just enough info to pretend you read that parenting book you promised you would read (disclaimer, this is definitely the movie version of that book), you can move straight to that second coat. You’re welcome. Then it’s time to get that crib put together.