This piece was originally published on The Good Men Project and has been reprinted with permission.
I’ve been a father for three weeks today, at the time of writing. That clearly makes me an expert.
(I’m choosing to ignore my wife rolling her eyes behind me as she reads this over my shoulder.)
With that in mind, I’ve made a list of some odd observations I’ve had in my nearly month of fatherhood.
No, these aren’t observations like “I was tired,” “I changed more diapers than I thought” or any other such insights. These are definitely legitimate. Or in my head only.
1. No One Wants to See Me
A lot of people will come to visit. None of them wanted to see me. The baby is the main attraction, the thing that puts butts in the seats.
The really odd thing about this? I didn’t mind, in the slightest.
First off, I am proud to show off my baby and everyone knows their baby is the cutest and friends and family have no choice but to agree. It helps that my son actually is the cutest baby.
Secondly, I took the time when people were willing to hold my baby (and maybe even change him!) to relax. I won’t lie. Whenever people came to visit my wife and I (AKA our son), I decided to lay down and take a nap. Like a full-on, snoring, deep sleep nap. That often lasted an hour. It was glorious.
2. I Got a Lot More Mature
All of a sudden, my family of two care-free adults became a family of three with a future to worry about.
While my wife and I used to spontaneously take a trip, spend money on something frivolous or stay up too late drinking and binge-watching our TV show of choice, now that we had a baby, we thought of the consequences of everything, and not just the big things like where we want our baby to go to school.
And some of the consequences are for ourselves. Should we watch one more episode of Orange Is the New Black or go to sleep? Well, the show is great but an hour of sleep … that’s like pure gold.
3. I Got a Lot Less Mature
Maybe it is sleep deprivation. Maybe it is the need to cope with my sudden surroundings in so many forms of bodily functions and fluids. Who really knows? One thing I know for sure, is my humor reverted to that of a middle school boy.
Here is my great example: We were at the pediatrician’s. My son, Oliver, was born jaundiced and big, at 9 pounds, 6 ounces. As is not uncommon in these situations, Oliver lost weight and we became focused on getting him back up to his birth weight.
At this particular appointment, we found out that Oliver had gained 3 ounces in 2 days. Great! My wife and I high-fived and then the pediatrician left.
As soon as the door closed, Oliver let out some purely ungodly noises that either came from his bowels or the depths of hell. I haven’t really determined.
One of us, I honestly can’t remember which, snidely remarked, “There are those 3 ounces.”
This set off a fit of giggles so unstoppable from both of us that we still had to catch our breath and wipe the tears from our eyes when the pediatrician returned, clearly wondering what had set us off.
We not only laughed at a fart joke, we laughed uncontrollably.
4. The Boundaries Disappear
News flash to those (like me, initially) who don’t know: breastfeeding is hard.
My wife had her breasts handled by about 8 nurses, 2 lactation specialists, and a couple different MDs to try and get a handle on it. Suddenly, something that had been kept very private had been readily handled.
However, it doesn’t stop there. In the battle of the breasts, we talked about our friends who had breastfed. At one point, I flat out asked about one of my wife’s friends (whose name has been changed), saying, “What are Malin’s nipples like?”
I only paused after I said it, thinking aloud that 10 months ago, had I asked the same question, it would have been more than slightly perverse. Now, it was an absolutely academic question (one that I did get an answer to!).
5. Superstitions Abound
As a sports fan, it is relatively believed that baseball players are the most superstitious of all athletes, as a group. Well, as the father of a newborn, I think I’ve become the baseball player equivalent of a regular adult.
I developed a routine for helping my baby sleep. This is logical. Something like we feed him, we burp him, we swaddle him and we lay him down to sleep. This makes sense.
However, in the wee small hours, I began to add less rational things. Hey, he slept an extra 10 minutes when Taylor Swift was playing. Look, when it was totally dark in the room, he went to bed easier.
Eventually our routine looked like: put Oliver down in a completely silent room, swaddled in a particular blanket when the moon is at its apex after he’s had precisely 3.27 ounces of milk to drink and after being snuggled for 37 seconds while the album 1989 is playing.
It becomes a complex ritual, hoping to snag an extra few minutes of un-interrupted shut eye.
In all seriousness, there is one change here that isn’t mentioned. My life revolves entirely around my new child. I’ve woken up with a start, just to make sure he’s OK. I’ve stared lovingly at Oliver while the minutes tick away. I don’t mind the seemingly never-ending supply of bodily fluid my child produces. And I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
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