There are lots of important aspects of fatherhood that you don’t get told about before becoming a Dad. Our top 5 things that nobody tells you about becoming a Dad will help you conquer the most important journey of your life.
Becoming a Dad is the most brilliant event that will ever happen to you in your life. When you decide to break the magical news to friends and family people will be joyous.
Flowers will be thrown into the air. You will receive hugs, laughter, congratulations, and warmth on unprecedented levels. Men will secretly be in awe of your manliness and alpha male abilities. Lovers of yesteryears will secretly morn the loss of such a male specimen.
Alongside the jubilation are a set of dark secrets, only known to those that have dared to tread the ground of parenthood before. It is these secrets that will be kept away from you for as long as possible in fear of making you run for the hills.
Harsh Truth #1: Your parents & friends will silently pray for you
A few short moments after the greatest announcement of your life those around you will be filled with the dark inner thoughts on your predicament. These will be all the things nobody tells you about becoming a dad.
Every parent goes into panic mode about their son having a baby.
This normal parent behaviour takes place because they see their offspring as their baby. Your parents know you better than anyone and will be concerned about the forthcoming parenting woes. The lack of sleep and relentless schedules. Having to worry about feeding, bathing, dressing, and nappy changing – seven days a week. How will our little boy cope with all that responsibility and hold down a stressful full-time job?
It is perfectly normal for your Mum and Dad to be thinking that you are going to struggle (collapse, buckle, hit the bottle) dealing with such a life-changing situation. Parents worry about the wellbeing of their children and you are no different.
Of course, you will adapt and cope with the responsibilities of raising your own child. Just like your parents did and their parents before them. Once the initial shock of becoming grandparents has subsided, your parents will be the happiest proudest people on the planet.
Friends & acquaintances
Your friends will likely be thinking about all the important things. What does this inconvenience mean for our annual ski holiday? Will he still be okay for our all-night drinking sessions?
Trust us, you won’t want to drink all night when your baby arrives. You will get very little sleep caring for your baby in the first few months and the last thing on your mind will be going on a huge bender with your mates.
Male friends that are already fathers will know the tough battles that lie ahead for you. Prepare to take a backseat on baby-related decisions, such as nappy brands, pumps, wipes, carrying straps, NCT courses, and infant formula (if you decide to bottle feed). Just pick your fights and let some things go. Mum really does know best in some areas.
Work colleagues with children will never ever tell you the full truth of just how tired you will be in the office.
They will smile, laugh, send beautiful cards & emails stacked high with fun baby emojis. Gifts will arrive and there will be wonderful hugs and lunches to celebrate. But silently they will say a short prayer for you. They will remember the endless fatigue. They will recall the work-related horrors, like how they alt-tabbed their laptop screen, whilst presenting to a packed room, and witnessed the gasps from the audience as they accidentally shared their inbox showing 1,000 unread emails.
There will be times in those early months when you simply feel unable to perform your job to the best of your ability. None of your work colleagues will tell you these stories but those with children all went through it. They got through it. And so will you. Maybe. Eventually.
Harsh Truth #2: Childbirth is like a scene from the film Alien
If you’ve never witnessed childbirth before, it is highly unlikely that you will be prepared for what will unfold.
Your romantic view of childbirth
Perhaps you can remember seeing a beautiful film where a dashing hero delivers a baby in the back of a car with one hand? You may recall seeing a video of childbirth at school. Where the camera angle very rarely left the face of the mother as she huffed and puffed calmly as a beautiful clean baby popped out into the world.
Now is a good time to forget any preconceived views you currently have on childbirth. No camera can capture the true amount of bodily fluids and blood that results when a woman delivers a newborn baby into the world. The trauma is real.
All those warm funny stories you’ve heard growing up about a dad fainting in the delivery ward at childbirth, or worse being physically sick are not make-believe. These are not stories of man legend but real events and for very good reason.
The gory reality of giving birth
Imagine a bizarre frizzly haired little alien-looking head popping into the world from your partner’s vagina. Or a frighteningly odd snake-like umbilical cord. Try to visualise the absolute horror of a placenta plopping out into a surgical pan (thud).
If this makes you feel nervous about what truly lies ahead, you should spend some time preparing for battle. There is a lot of research out there on how some fathers are actually traumatized by watching their partner give birth. If you are someone that doesn’t do well with blood and gore then it’s time to communicate this to your partner so you can prepare to avoid a horrific situation.
P.S – have you ever seen your partner curl one out up close and personal? In the words of Yoda, ‘you will do. you will do’.
Harsh Truth #3: You will feel like you have no idea what you are doing
Lots of dads read books on parenting before the big day arrives.
Some crawl the web of the endless parenting resources and seek out dad related content to help them become the greatest father in the world. These resources are fantastic and you should absolutely educate yourself on what lies ahead for you and your partner.
It is very important to understand that there isn’t a book out there that will adequately prepare you for all your individual experiences as a father.
When you are being rushed into an emergency C-Section, when all you wanted was a birth pool, whale music and a few candles, you will feel like you have no idea what you are doing.
When your baby is kicking and screaming for no reason as poo sprays up the wall on the nappy changer. You will be thinking that you have no idea what you’re doing. It will happen so let it.
Pick your battles
Whatever way you look at this, you can’t give birth to the baby for your partner.
There is nothing more humbling than watching your partner struggle to cope with the excruciating pain of childbirth as you sit helplessly having your hand broken. So as much as you’d like to be the alpha male and fix things, delivering a baby to the world is a process that has to run its course.
There are things you can do to feel less powerless and helpful.
Learn how to help your partner time her contractions. make sure you check the hospital bag and add in things you have read will help.
Make sure you are there for your partner throughout the labour. Serve water, energy drinks (pro tip: straws are essential!) and if you’re feeling really manly, offer to help deliver your baby and help cut the umbilical cord. You will feel totally helpless at times throughout the labour, but remember there are things you can do to help and make yourself useful.
Just being there for your partner can be enough.
Harsh Truth #4: The lack of sleep last years
Thought it couldn’t possibly be any worse than that Monday morning back at work after Danny’s stag do in Amsterdam? You don’t know what sleep fatigue is until you’ve been a dad for a couple of weeks.
A Newborn baby tends to sleep around 8 to 9 hours in the day and 8 hours at night. Unfortunately, they have small tiny stomachs, so wake up every few hours for food. This is terribly demanding for a mother breastfeeding. And an absolute shocker for a husband who happens to share a bed with them.
Heading to work after a night of very little sleep is a nightmare, especially if you have a high pressured stressful job.
There are things you can do to keep the dribble hitting your desk to respectable levels. Avoid sitting for too long in a hot office unless you want to be woken by a colleague. Make sure you tell everyone at work about your new baby. This will buy you some much-needed grace for looking like death warmed up.
If you have a job that involves operating dangerous machinery, or vehicles (think pilot!), then you will need to talk sleeping patterns through with your partner and possibly look at sleeping in separate rooms.
Take your naps where you can
Make sure you are napping where and when you can. Don’t be one of the guys reading Twitter on your phone when you manage to get a few hours break at home.
You need to use valuable nap opportunities to replenish your energy levels. At the weekends think about your partner if they have been at home all week with the baby. They need nap time more than you, especially if breastfeeding.
Consider a routine
Make sure you agree a fair routine with your partner in those first few months with your new baby.
It is always easier to cope with a lack of sleep when you plan for it. If your partner is breastfeeding and happy to express you can pick up some of the night feeds, especially at the weekends.
Keep technology away from your bedroom
Try to avoid using your mobile phone when you are trying to get your baby back to sleep.
Blue LED lights can slow, or halt, the production of melatonin, the hormone that signals to our brain that it’s time for bed. The blue light of the LED screen which slow the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals to the brain that it’s time to go to bed.
Looking at a screen (mobiles, televisions) before you go to sleep is scientifically proven to hinder your ability to sleep.
Harsh Truth #5: You might cry like a baby
There is nothing more beautiful and emotional than being present when your child enters the world. It’s probably the most emotional moment of your entire life. Have a think about that for a moment.
Being present at the birth of your child is one of those moments when tears are absolutely acceptable and expected.
The tears don’t start and stop at childbirth either.
You will find that your emotions fluctuate drastically as your baby makes its way into the world. It is very likely that you will start to shed tears at different milestones throughout your baby’s wonderful journey towards toddlerhood.
It’s brilliant. Good luck Dad.