5 Things They Don’t Tell New Dads

My beautiful baby girl is a month old tomorrow. It simultaneously feels like the time is fleeting, that I can’t grasp it without it slipping through my fingers, while also feeling like it’s been an eternity since the night she was born. Fatherhood is awesome, but there are a few things that they don’t tell you when you sign up for this job.

1) When your baby cries – I mean really cries – it breaks your heart. Babies can’t talk yet, so they communicate through crying. It’s how they let you know that they have a need that needs meeting. Everyone knows that babies cry, and sure, you expect that it will affect you in some way. But when your baby gets frustrated or upset and lets out those cries that pierce your core, it will absolutely shatter your heart. You physically feel your child’s cries.Trust me, you have never known the heartache of your child being upset.

2) Your baby will scratch themselves. Seriously. And their little nails are surprising sharp. It seems like common sense to us grownups that grabbing your own eyeball or raking at your cheek would not be a good idea, but for some reason, babies seem to want to inflict pain on themselves. And no, I don’t know why, so don’t ask. Make sure you buy some baby mittens or, in a pinch, use a pair of baby socks to cover their hands, especially during feeding time.

3) You do not have enough hands. As a new dad, you will quickly learn how to creatively use your body to accomplish tasks, from picking things up with your toes, using your teeth to gently pull that headband that your baby just pulled over her eyes back to the top of her head, or using the vice-like grip of the crook in your elbow to open a bottle. There are never enough hands. I promise.

4) Your job is not to just take care of your baby, it’s to take care of your partner, too. It becomes very easy to focus on taking care of your baby, almost to the point where, to your partner, it can feel like you’re taking over. Don’t do that. Realize that the reality of the situation is that your partner needs the bonding time with the baby right off the bat in order to succesfully breast feed, and your job is to be a supporting cast. You’ll get your chance to cuddle with the baby, I promise. In the mean time, take care of your partner and the house the best that you can on the limited sleep you have.

5) Sleep when the baby sleeps. You no longer get to decide when to sleep. Not even close. You may have been the early to bed, early to rise type, but baby may have other plans. Going to bed at 1:00 AM, waking up to feed the baby at 4:00 AM, then sleeping until 9:30 or 10:00 AM while your partner takes the other feeding shift? No problem. Do what you have to do. Oh, and that reminds me, you will not sleep soundly. It won’t happen. You will toss and turn. You will wake up when your baby has the hiccups. You will roll over to make sure she’s still there. It happens.

It is the most fulfilling job in the world. I’m completely smitten by my baby girl. I adore seeing my wife as the mother of our child. I love when my little girl falls asleep on my chest. The little things somehow turn into the most important things in life. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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4 thoughts on “5 Things They Don’t Tell New Dads

  1. newlymama27 says:

    Our son turned one month yesterday. I completely understand what you mean by the time being fleeting. And I love your take on what people don’t say about kids. Especially the nails. My goodness, I have so many scratches that it is ridiculous. Enjoy your time with your little one! It won’t be long before she is all on her own.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Totally agree with what you say about crying, especially when it’s proper howling. When our son was a few weeks old, he used to really scream when he was having his nappy changed. Oh, by the way, ‘nappy’ is what us folks on the UK side of the pond say instead of ‘diaper’. I forgot this when I did a post about ‘nappies’ a while ago 🙂

  3. adequatedad says:

    All of these are absolutely true, but #4 bears repeating and remembering. You are a team, and as a dad, your job is to make sure that your partner is fully equipped to handle the stresses of motherhood that we can only imagine. I failed this mission with our first child and the impacts were tremendous. I didn’t make the mistake with #2, and the difference is remarkable. Excellent read, and good luck when you find out the next 17 or 18 things they forgot to tell you about becoming a father. I’m still learning them all!

  4. Heather Braoudakis (@HBraoudakis) says:

    Congratulations! This is the best job you’ll ever have – daddy. We’ve been reading a great new, actually renewed book, great for new daddies of daughters. We’re loving it, so I have to share… It’s called “She Calls Me Daddy: 7 Things You Need to Know About Building a Complete Daughter,” by Robert Wolgemuth. Originally released in the 90s, it was a best seller. His girls are grown up and give their own input along with their husbands who are daddies to girls. I understand 40% of the book is new material. It’s so unique in this way. Robert puts the anxieties of Daddy raising his girl(s) to rest, guiding you through challenges and good times – protecting, conversation, affection, discipline, laughter, faith, conduct. So great for helping daddies learn to lead, love and cherish. I highly recommend it! http://www.tyndale.com/She-Calls-Me-Daddy/9781589977853#.U7jH414Q7wI

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