Experiencing The Joy In That Bundle Of Joy

image credit: jrayfarm1980

When I brought my baby home 4 years ago, all expectations went out the window. Here are a few points to help new dads put it all in perspective:

1. It won’t really seem like a bundle of joy, but that’s okay.

Recognize you, the baby and the mommy are going to be tre’ cranky in this transition from hospital room to your rooms. It’s OK.

Put yourself in the kid’s spot: About 48 hours ago she was sitting comfortably in a dark cozy place where she had room service for 9 months. Now? There’s bright light, a big bed where you feel like you are falling constantly and everyone wants to try and make you giggle and coo.

As for Mom? She’s sore, she can’t sleep and she’s waking up on the hour to feed a hungry babe.

And you, Dad? Your whole world just got spun on its dirty diaper. As Mom might have told you in the delivery room – “this is all YOUR fault.” And, both of the parties in your home may make you feel like that.

The point here is it’s natural. The only thing that can make this very emotional time worse is by thinking you need to adopt some super human strength. You don’t. You just need a level of understanding – and to understand these conditions are purely temporary. No kid goes to pre-school, prom and college ceremonies the same way you see them now. One day each of you will get into the right pattern. That day will come — even though it feels it won’t. You DO survive.

2. If you are calm, baby is calm.

Ever hold a screaming infant who is scared, hungry or just plain bored? It’s like trying to hold a police siren that is posing as a greased piglet. But the baby needs to feel secure. Remember what I said about the new living conditions described above? All she wants is to be held, relatively tightly, to feel everything is okay. In fact, in those first few days at home, that’s all you may want to do too. Get it? You are really the same. Just because she’s an infant and you are the adult doesn’t mean you feel any differently. They cry for numerous reasons but 9.5 out of 10 of them are perfectly normal – that means you aren’t doing anything wrong! Remain calm and comforting. The kid feeds off that.

3. Sleep and the infant? Whatever works for the babe.

When she first got home from the hospital, my daughter wanted no part of this expensive crib that took a week to put together. But she really loved the car seat. She felt wedged in and snug – sort of like the belly address she had before. She slept in the baby seat for a bit, but she slept.

Now? She’s four and flails about in a bed and snores like her old man. It didn’t take four years to get her to that point. It just took a bit for transition. Be flexible and you will find solutions. They may not be text book, but they may work for you. And, it’s all temporary.

4. Mom: She’s kind of a big deal.

So…leading up to this blessed event, Mom has gotten baby showers, cards and gifts, one-on-one care in the hospital. All of a sudden, baby’s here and that’s where the attention goes. That’s as jarring a deal emotionally as it is physically. You know those rock stars who retire only to be back on the road within six months? Yeah, they do it sometimes for the cash, but they also do it for the attention. Attention is a drug. When we have it for a long time and then it’s stripped away — that’s an adjustment.

You need to help with that. You need to be a big part of helping out, taking those night feedings and if you aren’t doing the feedings, being with Mom is a good call. She just went through something that resembles an Olympic event…and it wasn’t “curling” or “modern dance!”  She needs a hand, she needs to know you are listening. Be reassuring and basically let her get a bit of rest too.

Now, I’m not on the set of the Oprah show here. And, clearly by these writings I’m not a particularly sensitive soul.  But there is a “suck it up” factor involved based on the division of ..wait for it…labor. You lost sleep, but she’s been through a heck of a lot more. You can do this.

5. “Dad” is not a four-letter word.

Okay, so what about YOU? When is YOUR time in all this? Well, that’s why you do what I said in #4. If Mom is rested and you are divvying up some work, you will get some down time too. My father had a great line. He said “Anyone has to get a license to fish, hunt or drive but any jerk can be a dad.”  Well, of course he didn’t mean it’s a job for just anyone. He meant you have to take it on with all the passion you can muster. You have just created a beautiful little person. There will be a moment when this little person will look up at you and smile…and it won’t just be gas. It will be her way of saying “Thank you, Pop! We are going to rock it out over the years. I’ll probably goof up and so will you, but we now have us.”

I’ve done this three times and wouldn’t trade it for any of the sleep I’ve lost in those first few weeks or names I got called by Mom in delivery or postpartum.

You are taking on the biggest challenge of your life. And in that bundle of weeping, explosive fecal screaming matter, there will be moments when she looks at you and you will know you are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Bruce Springsteen all in one person.

Remember in those first few days and/or the first week: This too shall pass. Welcome to your new world order.

— Sam Locricchio

1 Response to “Experiencing The Joy In That Bundle Of Joy”

  1. 1 Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Dads, if you learn anything from this post, remember #4! My husband changed every diaper for the first week and that made all the difference in my sleep-deprived world.

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