|WARNING: Having kids can literally turn you into a Pot-Head!
A new friend, and soon-to-be fellow new Daddy asked if I had any advice for him before “B Day”? At first I thought, “I got nothin’.” And then I started typing…
Hey man! Sorry, this is the first time I’ve had a chance to get back to you. I’m typing fast on a phone so don’t grade me on this. Here are some of the lessons I’ve taken away from my experience with the whole Dad thing thus far…
First, I would learn a little bit about the whole birthing process to help reduce the stress involved. You don’t have to become a doctor, but if you learn a little of the lingo you’ll be more prepared to ask good questions and remain as much “in control” as possible. We took a natural child birth class that took a very honest look at “the business of having a baby”. Without going into a 14 hour story, a lot of the class was relaxation techniques and breathing. Most of which you’ll never use as your wife tries to choke you during a contraction! But those techniques make you a good coach and help Baby Mama deal with the pain. I was alone with my wife in the hospital, and in one of the most stressful moments of my life, something I remembered from my Instructor (An Angel, in my book) literally saved my wife from a C-Section! (Funny, two kids later, I’m THE only person that ever cried in the delivery room!)
Not sure if you had a baby shower yet? But…We wasted countless hours registering for things we never, ever touched. In the first few months, all you need are diapers, some clothes, (because you’re gonna change them constantly) a place for them to sleep and either a bottle or a boob. That’s all you need to keep them alive. Some things that were priceless were a white noise machine, (for you and the baby. It blocks background noise and tells them it’s nappy time. I got the Marpac Dohm. It sounds like a wind tunnel. We have them all over the house now.) a few swaddles, and a decent monitor. My point is that you’re going to get so much useless stuff at your shower. Everyone thinks they know what you need. Register for big things and let people go in together on them or just ask for gift cards. Use those cards for big stuff like a stroller, crib, high chair, car seat, monitor, etc.
My wife Breastfeeds, so she has the ability to soothe them with the boobs alone. I have man tits, but they don’t produce milk. I had to learn my own way to help get them to sleep when mama wasn’t around. Check out ‘The 5 S’s”. It’s something like sideways, shush, swaddle, shake (gently of course) and shit yourself. Kidding, I can’t think of the 5th. Although, I have them down to a science. I can still knock my 3 year old by cradling him on his side, shushing in his ear and rocking a little. The 5 S’s mimic what they experienced in the womb for almost 10 months. Them babies feel all comfy and safe. I have my 9 month old dialed in already. Works on him too. My dad called me “The Baby Whisperer” the first time he saw me do it!
As much as you might want to let them sleep in bed with you, try to avoid it. It forms a habit that could come back to haunt you. Those little buggers need to learn how to sleep alone, for their sake as much as yours!
A crying baby is a breathing baby. If they can’t stop crying, they are either: hot, cold, soaking wet, hungry, or exhausted. If you correct all of those and they’re still going ape-shit, it could be teething, etc? Sometimes it stings to let them cry it out for a bit. But with my 9 month old, I’ll let him hammer for a few minutes and then go use three of those five S’s. I had him snoring in two minutes last week. It was a record.
Resist the urge to rush to the hospital if the baby’s sniffling or their temp is a little elevated. We did with our first and the nurses wanted to give him drugs and a cold bath! That could have put him in shock. His temp was down by the time we got there. From that point on, we used natural methods to help through fevers associated with teething etc. That said, if it’s approaching 104-105*, I would call your doctor. At those temps for prolonged time, it can damage other organs that are working in overdrive to fight infection, cause siezures or other nightmares. Also, if their breathing is so strained that it’s pulling their nostrils in when they inhale, call your Doc.
Don’t waste a ton of money on toys. Most people will give you a ton of stuff that again will sit in a closet. The things they play with most? Empty water bottles and cardboard boxes. Save your money for when they are a little older and start to take an interest in something.
ENJOY your “free time” now! My wife’s first (and second, of course) pregnancy was a very cool, exciting, yet horrifying time! It’s all the fear of the unknown. But once that baby is here, things definitely change, whether you like it or not. The time for being selfish is over. And that is TOUGH to adjust to at first. Forget just running out the door together. Everything is baby! You’ll never be on time again. You will stay up late watching movies to maintain some resemblence of the old you, only to hate yourself in the morning when your hear that first little cry through the monitor.
Sound miserable? Absolutely. At times. But 99% of the time, it is going to be the greatest time of your life. No matter how much money you make, stuff you buy, or things you build, they will never compare to raising that kid. When they recognize you. Squeeze your finger. Fall asleep in your arms. Say “Dada” or later on, “Love you!”, you will see there is no other feeling like it. Real unconditional love. Until they grow up and tell you to piss off!:)
I already know you’re going to be a great dad. You know why? Because you asked me for advice. You care. You want to be good at it. After all this babbling, the most important thing I can say is, just be PRESENT. Everything I do is based on the notion that my actions are shaping their personality that will last forever. I PANICKED a few months before my first son was born! I’m talking total Whack-Job! I was PETRIFIED that I wouldn’t be a good dad, or turn him into a basket case later on in life. But you know what I found out? I’m pretty fucking good at it. Again, be present. Be encouraging. And just, love them. You will be their hero. You’ll see;)
I could go on and on. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m sure I’ll think of more and pass it on. Don’t stress! Everything will be OK Big Daddy!
It may not be the right way? But like Frank Sinatra said, “I did it my way.”;)