It doesn’t matter how much you prepare to be a dad, how many books you read, how many blogs you study, when it happens, you won’t feel ready. Your world will turn upside down, you will be a drowning man in a wild ocean grasping a plankton, nothing will make sense anymore. Our advice: just go with it. And also, heed some of these valuable lessons that should hopefully steer you in the right direction…
Breastfeeding is a full-time job
Nothing is more life-affirming than a woman suckling her young, but know this – while the little one is feeding, your lady’s willpower may also be draining. Sore nipples, long sleepless nights, it can quickly turn into a cruel, relentless slog. Empathise with that, be aware, and also be on hand to lend your support and look for alternatives if breast is not proving to be best. It doesn’t always work for everyone.
Baby’s bowel movements won’t necessarily be predictable
You’re expecting swamps of mustardy shit, but your baby mightn’t be the poo machine you’d envisioned. In fact, some babies are known to go a few days (sometimes over a week) without exploding a little nappy bomb, so if the rivers aren’t overflowing, don’t panic. If anything, enjoy the downtime.
Your main job is to keep spirits high
If you were to list the important people in your home, you’re clocking in at Number 3 (AT BEST), so the first thing to acknowledge is that your needs are not the most important ones. Your focus should be on keeping your partner happy while they recover from the physical side effects of childbirth – be the 3am cheerleader, the unyielding rictus grin. Be relentlessly positive, even if you’re not always feeling that way.
Going out is off limits for a while
After a couple of weeks, you might feel that the ship has been steadied enough for you to venture out for the night – to “wet the baby’s head properly”. HUGE MISTAKE. Firstly, babies and hangovers are a brutal concoction that should be avoided at all costs. Secondly, the minimum wait is a full month, at least. Stick to the script.
It’s up to your partner to initiate sex
You had “trying for a baby” sex, you had weird pregnant sex, now you feel it’s time to resume normal activity between the sheets. But hold off, this isn’t your call to make. They’ve been through huge physical and hormonal change, so lighting a candle and putting on some Kenny G just mightn’t cut it. Be patient.
You’ll need to do mundane things
You’re both tired, you’re both emotionally overwhelmed, so with a messy home things could easily get fractious. Step up, this is your time to really shine. Stay on top of the little things around the house, keep surfaces clean, clear up as you go, and make sure that no one is ever left wanting for a nice cuppa. Honestly, you have no idea how much damage this can prevent.
You will be terrified, but that’s fine
The early stages of parenthood are generally soundtracked by a simmering moog synth emanating a sense of dread, making you feel anxious. “Baby blues” mean that evenings can become quite oppressive for some mums, and, like any journey into the unknown, you will probably feel unsettled. That’s fine, it’s normal, don’t worry. You will become a ninja at this, it’ll just take time to get there.
You will only know child-friendly pubs for a bit
Though they resemble a Hieronymus Bosch vision of hell (see his Garden of Earthly Delights), child-friendly pubs will now become your port in a storm. You will go to them on Saturday afternoons and drink exactly three pints before gently swaying your way home. This is the extent of your social life now, embrace it.
You will get bored
Once you’re over the emotional tidal wave of childbirth, early parenthood is pretty monotonous. Your baby doesn’t actually do anything for about four months, beyond sleeping, feeding, crying and filling their nappy on loop. It can be a mundane existence. But don’t fret, all of that is about to change. Big time.
Your old life has officially gone
At first, you’ll kid yourself into thinking that you can hold on to your old life, and simply incorporate being a dad into it, but it doesn’t work like that. Everything on the outside might look the same, but you have fundamentally changed on the inside. Accept it, embrace it. And good luch. It’s a brave new world.
Photography Jonas Kakaroto