11 Things a Month as a Dad Has Taught Me

Tomorrow will mark a month since M & C entered our lives. It’s been a busy month, to say the least, as I guess any parent would know.

I’ll admit that it has been a bit more trying a period of time than I ever could have imagined. Going in, I thought I was more or less totally prepared. I’d read the books. I’d watched the videos. I’d absorbed tons of tips and advice from friends, acquaintances, family, and total strangers. And, of course, I had my own assumptions or hubris.

Surprise, surprise, I’ve learned more from actually dealing with babies than any books or well-meaning friends could ever teach me.

  1. By now, many people and a lot of literature will have told you about the lack of sleep you’ll suffer after having a baby. No matter what you expect, take your worst-case scenario of sleep deprivation over a 48 hour period, multiply it by two, add a soundtrack that sounds like white noise as performed by cats being run over by a tank, and you will have a closer idea of how your sleeping life will go. You’re underestimating this. Just…shut up, you’re underestimating this!
  2. The above advice applies more or less verbatim to diaper usage.
  3. You are not a baby whisperer. It’s day 2, your baby is screaming inconsolably, you touch her nose and say “Boop!”, and she stops crying. You repeat this one or two more times. “I’ve got this,” you muse. “I don’t know why people make such a big deal about babies fussing.” And then the next time you touch her nose and say “Boop!”, she goes f***ing ballistic. You haven’t lost your touch; you never had the touch. Babies are fickle things. What works today might not work tomorrow, and what comforted her yesterday might set her off today.
  4. Everyone around you IS a baby whisperer. At least, they think they are, and they might even appear to be. I have found that if I’ve held a crying baby for longer than about four seconds, someone nearby will ask if I want them to hold him. This (rightfully so or not) can come across as them thinking you have no idea of how to comfort a crying baby, and that they have the ability to make the crier in question stop. Sometimes you hand him over and he immediately stops crying. This isn’t necessarily anything you’ve done wrong or anything they’re doing right; sometimes babies just want a change of venue. Also, on a long enough timeline, the comforting embrace of the other person might sour, and you can watch smugly while they spend an hour with a screaming infant.
  5. You have maintained a fairly consistent daily or weekly routine for years. Yeah, you can go ahead and forget that.
  6. Your freedom is gone. Not to sound melodramatic, but yeah. Remember how maybe you’d get the house to yourself sometimes? Maybe you’d head out solo on Sunday to catch some football at the bar with the guys? If, on a moment’s notice, you wanted to leave the house for a grocery run, it was no problem? Those things are not part of your life anymore. Now your life is being where your baby/babies/partner need you at any given point in time.
  7. “But I just changed her!”. And you’ll just change her three minutes later. Deal with it. You might as well forget saying “But she just ate!” and “He was up all day, how can he still be awake?” too. What happened five minutes ago has no bearing on right now.
  8. Your baby is more or less bulletproof. Just watch out for the neck. Even if you bang their head into a wall or something, they probably won’t even notice it. Oh, and that soft spot? The membrane over that is made of, like, nine layers of trampoline fabric, so don’t panic when you feel your thumb moosh in there. Also, your first “emergency” visit to the pediatrician will likely be something totally mundane. Don’t feel bad; better safe than sorry, and the doctors are used to it.
  9. Get used to sharing; your baby is community property now.
  10. You WILL be peed and pooped on. That is all.
  11. She isn’t smiling at you. Yeah, the books all said that smiles in the first few weeks just mean your baby has gas, grabbing your hand is just random, and adorable nuzzling is just rooting behavior, but it’s really hard to keep that in mind when you look down and see a cute, goofy little grin on your baby’s face. Right before she farts in your lap and passes out.

 

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