Caution: Honest dad perspective ahead.
Newborns are the ultimate transition, and for dads, it can be one of the most frustrating times of fatherhood. On June 14, 2016 we welcomed our third beautiful daughter into our lives. I am so happy to report my wife
and my newborn are both healthy and well on their way to their post-birth adventures as we celebrate her first month of life. You would think that, this being my third newborn, I would be a moderate pro to all of the changes that come with a new baby. Truth is, every child is unique and they always have a way of throwing a curve ball your way. The following are the five fatherhood realities of a newborn:
- Newborns are kind of boring.
Harsh? Yea, maybe but I promised honesty. Newborns sleep a lot! Of course I enjoy snuggling up to my baby, but there is a limit to how much I can sit around and cuddle. I tend to get antsy and inevitably will start to putts around the house or garage. My favorite baby stage is from about 3 – 9 months old. They can hold their head up, start to interact with you, and stay put when you put them down somewhere! On top of it all, they usually have an established sleep schedule which makes for a more refreshed Ma and Pa. Yes, I cherish these first moments of life, but I [not so] secretly am counting down the days to month three.
- Newborns make dads feel helpless.
In my career as a principal, I have a lot of control over what happens in my school. I have never considered myself to be a “boss” but rather a “leader”. Regardless of the term, when teachers and staff are encouraged to take a risk in the classroom, think differently about a topic, or flip a classroom (google it if you are a non-ed person, it is pretty great) they will [typically] do it. As a father of a newborn, there is no such control in my house. We eat, sleep, and shower according to our newborn’s schedule… Which seems to change every other day. To say I have no control is an understatement and as a principal and mild control freak, that tends to raise my stress level. But as a dad, that’s life. On top of it all, my wife is the sole provider of all nourishment to our daughter. As the husband of a wife who knows the incredible importance of breastfeeding, I cannot be more thankful for the nutritional head start my girls have because of my wife’s sacrifice. But from the guy’s perspective, it is a very helpless feeling. Basically, if our newborn starts to cry I have three tricks up my sleeve: To swaddle, to change a diaper, or pace the house with her in my arms bouncing like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh and making up random songs about the objects I pass in the room. Turns out, they never taught me how to breastfeed in my Secondary Principal 101 classes [sarcasm].
- A marriage tester, indeed.
When you mix a lack of sleep, a career, a new baby, a three year old, and a one year old (not to mention two dogs) chances are it is going to test the mettle of your marriage a bit. Each day brings on a new adventure and of course my wife and I have our fair share of disagreements because we are literally making up the playbook as we go. There is no textbook for parenting three unique kids under the age of four. Thankfully, nature has a way of easing you into each stage of life and a rhythm starts to form. We have learned to celebrate the good days and survive the rough days, always stay on the same page with one another, and relish in the little things that make us laugh.
- Improved relationship with the older kids.
One of the most rewarding parts of having a newborn is the relationship I
get to develop with my other children. Since mom is always holding and feeding the baby, my other two children are stuck with me (lucky them)! Our middle child is now attached to my hip and craves my attention, something that did not happen before our newborn arrived. My oldest loves to oooo and ahhhh over the new baby, but in the end she is always asking for me to play with her. Yes, there are days when even wrestling on the floor or playing astronauts can seem like a chore, but there will come a day when she doesn’t want anything to do with me and this is my chance to build some incredible connections.
- I am no longer cool.
Now, I have never claimed to be a “cool” person. But I promise you, there is nothing cool about being elbow deep into a major blow-out diaper or having your best buddy asks you if a bird pooped on your shoulder and your response is… “Nope, that would be baby vomit.” But with the loss of my coolness comes a flood of compassion, empathy, love, and raw emotion of humanity that can only be generated by the birth of MY child. It is the best trade off this world could offer me. I proudly embrace my nerdy dad life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now, I know I am not alone in feeling this way… Feel free to share your [or your husband’s] journey through the newborn transition. Even though I have done this three times, I am always looking for some good advice! #ParentingThePrincipal