By Guest Blogger Ryan Holt
I have always wanted a large family – when my wife told me we were expecting I was absolutely elated. If you’re like me then you have a “plan” and are extremely organized. Everything has a purpose and place. Therefore, having a child doesn’t change anything, right? Wrong.
The next few weeks consisted of intense emotions with thoughts such as: How much do I need to budget for this? What do I need to get done in order to prepare? I was determined that this life changing experience was not going to take me out of my comfort zone. By the beginning of the third trimester I started to feel like we were in a good place. I was able to save an appropriate amount of money. The showers had provided us with the essentials. The wife and baby were healthy. It was now a waiting game.
My journey as a father began on January 25, 2019 at 9:27PM. After watching my wife labor for over 36 hours, I quickly realized my “plan” was obsolete. By the fifth day in the hospital (Drake had jaundice), I felt my preparedness slipping away. Nothing would prepare me for the overwhelming sense of fulfillment and responsibility that overcame my existence.
Being a father has taught me so much – the definition of selflessness and the art of discernment. I have compiled five short thoughts for the first-time expecting father. It is my hope that these will provide encouragement and help put the upcoming experience into perspective. I am no expert – I barely qualify and learn something everyday, but these are my insights.
This time is precious so don’t get distracted. It will be easy to get lost in the chaos. I specifically remember enjoying the first moments after birth with my wife as we realized our lives were forever changed. Just living in the moment and the miracle that is childbirth. There will be some long nights and other times you will want to slow down. Do yourself a favor – enjoy the moments. Whether it’s the late night feedings or a quick nap during skin-to-skin time; always be present.
Take the picture
It wasn’t long before I started realizing that every photo we had was either of the baby or the baby with someone else. Someone other than mama. If your wife is like mine, they like to take a picture. I captured a photo of my son sleeping on my wife’s shoulder. She had sleepy eyes and a sweet smile. Just a simple gesture that she and I will cherish forever. We steal the glory sometimes when the mamas do the heavy lifting; they grow up fast, so take the picture.
Invest in safety
The most important adjustment we made in preparation for parenthood was upgrading our family vehicle and researching car seats. We intentionally purchased these items with safety in mind – just in case the unthinkable happened. Unfortunately, that investment paid out. My wife and son were involved in a high-speed collision when he was just ten months old. The safety features of both the car seat and vehicle saved their lives. You can call it ironic, miraculous, or grace, but at the end of the day; invest in safety.
The first time I held my son – I had no clue what I was doing. I was the farthest thing from comfortable when holding a tiny seven-pound newborn baby. It wasn’t long before I realized that he could sense that. So, do yourself a favor and force the issue. Do the feedings, give the bath, and put them down for naps. It’ll make bonding easier and your wives will love you even more. It’s easy to sit in awe of our wives as they are such a natural, but all you have to do is get involved.
The most important concept I have taken away from this entire experience is that sleep will become a scarce and precious commodity. This goes for you, your wife, and your baby. The old saying, “sleep when the baby sleeps.” It’s hard, but do it. You will find yourself wanting to clean house, catch up on work and/or take a shower. The importance of sleep training cannot be overstated. Your baby needs sleep for their own developmental health and you will be thankful for a full night of sleep.
Becoming a father has been the most rewarding experience I have ever known, and I look forward to the opportunity to grow. I hope these thoughts help provide subtle insight from a very inexperienced first time Dad. It’s going to be an adjustment, but believe it or not your instincts are there. Just remember to take it all in because it’s true what they say – they grow up so fast.