Well, you can’t say it was unexpected! (see photo below) But now that you’re about to become a father, questions, doubts, worries might start creeping up. Slowly at first, then, before you know it, the full-blown realisation of the responsibility you’re about to have overwhelmingly takes over. Your brain will go on overdrive and widely irrational and exaggerated scary thoughts will find their way in there.
But relax, it’s not complicated (it’s hard alright, but not complicated): all you need to do is keep them alive and don’t go broke. The rest is logistics.
We (men) usually focus on what we are about to lose rather than what we’re about to gain, when change knocks on the door. And becoming a father is quite a substantial move in your life. So let’s look at what people say changes, what might changes and what actually stays the same.
You’re no longer going to be number 1
Before kids came around, you were each other’s centre of attention. But once a baby is thrown in the mix, the worry is that you will be neatly placed in the background and, over time, disregarded.
Truth is, once the little munchkin arrives, they pretty much become the centre of attention. You both rally together to tend to this defenceless creature who will dictate your every move for the foreseeable future. (Together being the operative word here).
What I will say here is that the love you have for your child is a completely different love that you have for your partner. It’s very different to anything you have felt before and pretty much impossible to put into words. That doesn’t mean that your partners will love you any less. It’s just… different!
You will find that the relationship develops exponentially (as long as you don’t let the stresses of parenthood drive you apart) and, all of a sudden, you are both working towards a same goal: raising a little human! And that is just an unbelievable bond to have.
If you do catch yourself feeling like you’re number two, it’s time to grow up: you’re a dad now, focus on the important things!
You will never sleep again
Truth, for the first few months at leat, you won’t be able to shut your eyes for more than a couple of hours consecutively. Nonetheless, at that age, babies require between 16 and 20 hours of sleep — so you might not be able to sleep looooong hours, but you’re given the opportunity to nap often, which is also pretty cool!
Also, you’ll be amazed of what you can achieve with just a few hours of sleep. Granted, it’s a shock to the system at first, but you adjust quickly (out of necessity really, not anything else!).
Remember as well that, after the first three months, your baby should start sleeping longer hours, so this will feel like a treat. The trick here is to be attentive to each other (make sure your partner is getting enough sleep), take care of one another and take turns in the shifts.
One thing that will forever be embedded in my memory is that sentence the midwife told us in the antenatal classes: “Sleep when the baby sleeps. It doesn’t matter if the house is a mess or if the dishes are piling up.”
So, whilst your sleep habits will change (undeniably), it won’t last forever. And yes, waking up at 10 am will become a ‘lie-in”.
What if I can’t do it?
Are you a man or a mouse? Of course you can do it!
Granted there is a lot to learn and take on board. But changing a nappy, burping a child, feeding a baby, etc. is not rocket science. You just have to stop worrying about what other people say or thing and get involved. As long as you’re willing to get involved, you’ll be fine.
Failing is part of learning and, after a while, you’ll find it’s actually pretty fun doing all these mundane things (except the nappy changing bit, this sucks).
Things I realised: babies are tougher than you think (you can’t break them as easily as I thought), sleep is over rated, it really is not that hard (practice makes perfect) and you will learn as you go.
My life is over
You will probably hear people talking about how they don’t go out anymore, they have lost all their friends, etc. That only happens if you let it happen.
Yes, your life has changed. It’s not beer and going out focussed any more — the little person does need you. (Really) late nights are probably not going to be as frequent (hangovers and babies don’t really mix). But you can still keep in touch with friends, go out to dinner, invite people in. In the early months, a baby is literally just an eating/sleeping/pooping blob. They are light and portable as well so…
Normality does come back after a while. Babysitters become guardian angels and your social life starts getting back to what you knew. And your mates will probably have kids shortly too, so you get to hangout again, with your +1s.
It’s all about the baby
Yep. It is! You’re a father now, and, as a father, your main focus is the baby (Same goes for the mother).
And, whilst all this baby talk will probably get to you at times, it really is worth putting the time and effort. They are fun, ego boosting, fantastic little creatures that bring so much joy and happiness. Just sit back and enjoy what’s ahead.