Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Four things new dads should know

So you’re about to be a dad. Congrats, dude. That’s awesome. Everyone keeps telling you that everything is about to change, and you smile and nod politely. But in your head you’re thinking, “Yeah, duh, no shit.”

I know this because I thought the same thing when I was pregnant. Of course everything is going to change. We’re having a baby. Hello?!

But seriously, dude. Shit’s about to get real.

Take it from this new mom. Since I’ve made it through my first year of parenthood and lived to tell about it, let me give you a little advice that other parents are not going to tell you. As a first time dad, here’s what you really need to know.  

#1: You can shove your to-do list.

I know the lawn needs mowing, and there are weeds to pull, and there’s faucet dripping somewhere, and the porch light burned out, and blah blah blah. I know you might be feeling a bit useless right now, and you aren’t sure what you can do to help your wife with this new baby since she’s the keeper of the boob juice. So it’s tempting to focus on the chores and errands because you think that will make you Super Husband and Dad of the Year.

You’re wrong. Sit down.

You need to sit and hold this baby. No, not like a football. Like a baby. Your wife has not peed in, like, eight hours. She has not eaten anything all day. She has not showered or even brushed her teeth. She has done nothing but hold this baby that cries every time she puts it down. You’re finally home from work. Now sit and hold this baby so your wife can go pee. Trust me, that’s way more important than anything you have on your to-do list.

Unless, of course, she tells you to go mow the lawn. Then why are you still sitting there?!

And may God help you if you even think about dropping on the couch, turning on the game, and complaining that you’re tired.

#2: You’ve got a role in breastfeeding.

And that role is called Errand Boy. As soon as your wife gets that baby latched, she’ll realize ten things she needs. Get her a glass of water and something to nibble on. (The baby’s going to be there for while.) Make sure she has the remote control, her cell phone, enough pillows, and anything else she asks for. And make sure all of these items are within three inches of her because she won’t be able to reach far.

And please don’t make her watch the football game or one of your lame TV shows while she’s nursing. It’s bad enough she’s chained to the couch for next forty-five minutes or more (per feeding, which is every 2-3 hours). She has nothing else to do than stare at the TV, so please put on something you both enjoy. Or just something she enjoys, if you’re really going after that Super Husband and Dad of the Year award.

Oh, and remember those foot massages you were giving out so freely while she was pregnant? Yeah, keep those comin’, buddy. Breastfeeding hurts like a muther in the beginning. Her feet shouldn’t have to hurt, too.

#3: Breast milk is liquid gold.

Pumping sucks. It more than sucks. It super sucks. It takes, like, a zillion years to pump two ounces sometimes. So all that breast milk in your fridge took a long time to obtain. Sacred, baby-free time that your wife could’ve spent doing other important things. (Like peeing and brushing her teeth. See #1.) Do not waste this milk. Do not treat it lightly. If she tells you not to touch it, don’t touch it. Her boobs created that milk, so she’s in charge of it.

If your wife accidently spills some, there will be tears. If you accidently spill some, there will be worse.

(#2 and #3 in this list assume you’re going to give your baby breast milk at least some of the time. If that’s not the case, don’t think you’re off the hook. Dads can prep bottles of formula, too.)

#4: Your new role is Roadie.

If you really want to know how it’s done, take a lesson from my Hubs. He took on the role of roadie after our son was born, and it’s been awesome! Admittedly, it took us a little while to get into this rhythm, so give it time and you’ll find yours, too.

Go ahead and read the My Roadie post. I can wait. (Insert Jeopardy music.)

I know what you’re thinking. My Hubs does set the bar pretty high. But the bad news is your wife is already aware of this. That’s why she sent you a link to this post.

What advice do you have for first time dads?