Sunday, February 8, 2009

Uncle Busy-Dad-E

Yep, that’s right! As I alluded to in my last post, we have another new family member. I’m an uncle for the first time! Somebody slow down this population explosion. Congrats to my sister-in-law and her husband on their new addition, Little Nephew! They’ll make great parents, no doubt.

As everyone settles down into their new roles, including Aunt Busy-Mom-E, who is so thrilled about this new role she can’t settle down, I couldn’t help but reflect on becoming a dad-e for the first time.

I think that new parents get overly bombarded with advice on parenting, from everyone, including strangers. While this is usually well-intentioned, the fact is, my sister-in-law and her husband will be wonderful parents on their own. Let them relish in this moment, probably the happiest one of their lives. They’ll figure it out as they go. The combination of natural instincts, love for their child and each other will serve as a compass for parenting.

Sure they’ve got a lot of on-the-job learning (as my updated motto describes) to come, but experience is the best teacher. And so, rather, than give them advice, I decided to make a list of a few things I learned on the journey of being a first-time dad. I’ll focus on just the newborn period. I wish them the best on that journey—that first year goes by way too quickly.

Newborn Insights from a First-Time Dad:
1. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you get home with the baby from the hospital. It hits you all of a sudden: we have a baby now and we’re responsible for that child 24/7. I freaked out (briefly) at that moment. I think everyone does.
2. I chuckle every time I see the commercial/public service message that says “being a parent changes everything.” “Yep, you got that right,” I think to myself. “That’s an understatement.”
3. My wife has never looked at me quite the same—in a good way—I’m both a husband and a father now.
4. I’ve never been so tired in my entire life those first few weeks. I didn’t know I could get used to functioning on so little sleep.
5. As tired as I was, I enjoyed getting up to change the baby and bring him to Busy-Mom-E for feedings. Since I couldn’t breastfeed :), this was my time for bonding. Not to mention you will score countless husband points by bringing the child to your wife at night for feedings, so that she doesn’t have to get up.
6. Anyone without a baby at home takes little things like showering, brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, and eating for granted.
7. If your wife is home all day with the baby while you’re at work, the first thing you need to do after greeting them is to take the baby from her. She probably has to do at least one of the things in #6 above.
8. Some of my fondest moments were rocking the baby or holding him on my chest in the wee hours of the morning when he was fussy and wouldn’t go back to bed. Big Brother and I once watched “The Bourne Identity” at about 3am, which I’m sure is why he loves movies so much now.
9. My wife would get up to look at the baby and feel to see if he was still breathing at least once a night, probably more. I soon learned that this is normal maternal behavior.
10. I was instantly bonded with my child the first time I saw him, and I would do ANYTHING to protect him.
11. My friends without kids started calling less and less, and I probably didn’t care.
12. I learned that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, takes about 2-3 times as long to do when you have a baby. I still remember that it took us about 6 hours in total (from getting ready to going out the door) the first time we went anywhere with Big Brother.
13. Proper car seat installation warrants Busy-Dad-E’s Honorary Engineering Degree.
14. As soon as the baby gets into a routine, the routine will change.
15. I never knew that one person so small could influence the actions and thoughts of so many adults, without even saying a single word.

I'm sure there are plenty of others, but I'm still residually tired, and these were the first things to come to mind.

Oh happy day,

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  1. This is so true, Dad-E. Those first few weeks fly by so quickly. They are some of the most exhausting and wonderful moments of your life!

  2. All very good insights and advice Uncle Busy Dad-E. I know Aunt Busy Mom-E is so happy to finally be an aunt as well...congratulations!

  3. holding baby w/ 1 hand, typing w/ other....excellent post! love, new mommy

  4. Congratulations on the new family member. I love holding a brand new baby in my arms. And yes, the days and months go the fastest the first year.