I’m a new dad weighing in on how I experienced the first days after our son was born.
What just happened?!
The first couple of weeks after our boy arrived are hazy to say the least, but over the months my girlfriend and I have compared notes. I think there are always unknowns, but in my role as a new dad I had a few reality checks despite all the prep and a fairly smooth delivery. Basically, there was a gap between what I thought it would be like to be a new father and what my job was immediately after delivery - sustaining us.
If you’re a first time partner/parent you may be surprised like me, and find that your role as dad or partner takes a back seat, at least at first. For me the gig looked different than I expected. Here is what I was up to during the first two weeks and what you may find yourself doing too:
- Feeding (and watering) the beast: Mother and baby were hungry and thirsty all the time. I probably should have filled pitchers instead of beer glasses. On the food front, I am a chef so my skills came in pretty handy, but the lunch and dinner rushes were just as urgent as the busy restaurant where I feed hundreds of people a day.
- Owning diaper duty: What goes in must come out. Babies go a lot - especially in the beginning. Usually as a couple we’re 50/50 on everything but I could tell that moving around for my girlfriend was excruciating. I changed every diaper during those first two weeks so she didn’t have to be in pain. Speaking of diaper duty, my girlfriend had heavy bleeding and required help getting in and out of her own (adult) diapers. It was unexpected but you have to step up. We had some good laughs too.
- Errand running: Lots of lists and errands. One boggling trip involved buying pads. Look at that photo, that is so ridiculous. 20 texts back and forth to my girlfriend and I still don’t even know if I bought the right ones (I doubt it). I still look at that aisle sometimes when I’m at the store, yikes! (Luckily if you grab a postpartum kit for your loved one you can avoid this situation).
- Being the representative: Our family and friends are pretty laid back so I didn’t need to be a bouncer, but I did need to step up and entertain and create some space for my girlfriend and baby when my family stayed at the house during week one.
- Being the enforcer: My partner had a friend visiting from England and she absolutely insisted on seeing him on day 3 before he headed home. Knowing that she was still in pain and short of breath I had to get real with her and set some rules for all of our best interest.
- Listening patiently: Postpartum can be tough at times for everyone in the family, but the mix of hormones, crying infant and sometimes more serious postpartum mental health stuff can lead to rage-bursts and spontaneous crying (hopefully tears of joy too). It happens and it’s ok. It’s ok to walk away in the moment and work it out when everyone (including baby) have calmed down. Know when to hold them, know when to walk away.
- Taking care of yourself: Take five minutes here and there to chill out. My girlfriend and I were lucky to have her parents around for the first 24 hours so we got some much-needed zzz’s. You might not get to sleep for a while, so take it when you can.
- Remember why you did this: During birth and postpartum you see a lot, and both you and your partner have been challenged physically and mentally. Personally I have found that my girlfriend is more beautiful than ever since giving birth to our son, and I tell her that. I told her that during the first few days too when she told me she felt like a leaky pudding sack. It never hurts to be reminded and to remind each other that this whole baby train started because of the love between two people.
So, those are my tips. Hope it helps and good luck you’ll be a great parent! By the way, the Dadding stuff I actually expected to be doing in those first weeks is what I get to do now and it’s pretty great.