Wednesday, April 22, 2015

First and Ten: Tips for My Brother, a New Dad To Be



Dear Brother,  I can't even begin to describe what it feels like, holding your own child for the first time. It's a moment I will never forget. The first time I held Adam I just couldn't stop staring at him.
The whole thing is exciting beyond words. That's why we went through it three times. Well, that and Susie forgot what labor was like at least enough that she was interested it it happening more than once.

What is incredible about it is first, seeing your wife deliver this tiny human whom you have been talking to for months, watching him move like a little alien inside her pregnant belly, and seeing him grow on ultrasounds from a tiny raspberry to a full grown T-Rex. You'll never forget him responding to your voice when you read him your favorite book before he even made it out into the world or the way he would kick when he heard your voice.

Your first kid is going to scare the crap out of you and at the same time make you cry with happiness. I was scared that I was going to do something wrong. The first time I changed Adam's diaper, I was shaking so hard I could barely do it. All the while Susie laughed the entire time, so that helped.

This month, Adam turned 10 years old and my baby is becoming more than just that little boy. If I knew then what I know now it sure would be a whole lot easier so I've put together ten tips for new fathers like yourself. I did all the research, so you're welcome.

1. GO OUT TO EAT TOGETHER WHEN YOU CAN

Being home with the kid is great and for the first few months people are going to inundate you with dishes they prepared to keep you well fed. Once that runs out, you're going to hate casseroles. My advice, go out with the baby in the infant carrier.

These dry runs not too far from home gave us a chance to get out together and test taking the baby everywhere. Not to mention, when it is Crab Cracking Tuesday at Red Lobster, that kid isn't going anywhere while you plow through a pound of crab legs.

2. NAP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN

It's never going to make up for your lack of sleep. Ever. But enjoy the snuggle time with the baby sleeping on your chest while you play Mario Kart or watch The Walking Dead late at night. You can catch up when he starts consistently sleeping through the night. I once witnessed you crawling to class the next morning after a night of drinking at The Pace so I know you have it in you.

3. DON'T KEEP YOUR MOUTH OPEN WHILE CHANGING THE BOY

Once, while changing Adam he peed straight up into my face and into my mouth. I guess they make something called the Wee Blocker now because of this very thing. I never made this mistake again as I always kept it covered while the change was happening from then on. Little boys are like sprinklers when they whiz.

4. DON'T MESS WITH THE BREASTFEEDING

This was probably one of my worst moments as a new dad. I felt like the baby was always with Susie and I felt helpless and sometimes useless. I felt like I should be doing something to help so with the first two, instead of making every effort to let the breast have first billing, I deferred to the bottle which probably confused the kids.

Let's put it this way, your wife is the Chef and you are the Sous Chef. Do whatever it takes to support her. Get the breast pads, the nipple lotion, the nursing bras, whatever. Do the laundry, keep the house clean, keep her hydrated. Be the best breast supporter you can be. Yes, I said that.

5. ENJOY THE BREASTFEEDING BOOBS WHILE YOU CAN

Admire them. Cherish them. But keep in mind, you aren't going to touch them. No sir. Basically they are strip club boobs. As badly as you want to touch them, you're going to be bounced if you do. You may want to take some mental snapshots for later though.

6. ENJOY THE BABY TIME

After Adam was born I thought it was sort of boring. All he did was eat, sleep, crap, and repeat. People will tell you it goes fast and they are right but you won't want to listen and it may seem to drag on forever. One of my absolute favorite things to do with the kids was to give them baths when they were babies. Eventually, he will scream at you like you are pouring hot acid on him, so enjoy it.

7. SYMPATHY EATING IS NOT A THING

When Susie was calling me on my cell asking for a chocolate shake from Steak N Shake I always thought "Hey that sounds good, I should get one too" I should have done crunches instead. You know that freshman 15? That's nothing compared to the new parent 25. You may want to store veggies in your car.

8. DO WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT, AND DAMN EVERYONE ELSE

The good thing about parenting is that there is no wrong way to do it. We've seen plenty of bad parents on the news and there is no way you will be one of those. People are going to give you lots of unsolicited advice. Just nod your head and smile, then do the opposite.

9. LISTEN TO YOUR FRIENDS WITH BABIES

Moms are great for advice but to be honest, they forget shit. Heck, I already have forgotten so many details so you may want to ask Susie. You know she never forgets anything and if she did, she probably has it written down in a spreadsheet somewhere.  The more kids you have, the more you mix up who did what. That's why I took a bazillion photographs.

Just because a person is a veteran when it comes to having kids, doesn't mean they are up on current happenings. Ask the people who recently went through it or have babies. They are the gold resource. I'll never stick my nose in your business but know that if you need help, I'm always around for encouragement or make fun of you, whichever comes first. Hey, we're brothers!

10. FORGIVE YOURSELF

Believe me, you're going to make mistakes. We all have and it's okay. Babies are resilient and you need to be too. Forgive yourself now for anything that may go wrong and will. Have a sense of humor about it and NEVER TELL YOUR WIFE. Just kidding, tell her, maybe.

Once, while severely sleep deprived, I dropped the bottle of milk and it rolled under the couch. I grabbed it in the dark and fed it to him. He cried and screamed and made a fuss that woke Susie up when it was my turn to take care of him. The next morning I found out I had force fed him a bottle that had been under the couch for days which had gone missing. No wonder he screamed. My bad.







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