I’ve been a Dad for seven days (well, seven days as of 8:17pm the night I am writing this). Lots of people have asked what it feels like, if I like it, am I excited, am I ready. While I probably could have been considered a Dad while Hattie was still in utero, the immediacy of actually holding a her in my arms makes the designation palpable. With that in mind I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from my time as a Dad.
Childbirth is Badass The entire time Katie was in labor, but especially during transition and when she was pushing, the one word that came to mind was “badass.” Seriously. You don’t know what childbirth requires of women until you watch it first hand. While it might not be the most eloquent word do describe “the miracle of life,” you quickly realize that every moment, every aspect of the birth process requires toughness, dedication, and down-to-the-core-love……which is badass. (see below)
Be Adaptable One of the most important things I learned from our birthing classes is that while you might have a birth plan and lots of birth wishes there is no way to know how things will progress. Medicated or unmedicated? Vaginal or C-section? Breast or bottle feeding? On and on and on — you begin with all these wants and desires but when you get the hospital anything can happen (or go askew, and it does). What this requires of you (me: the partner) is to be calm, centered, and above all adaptable to whatever happens. Your baby is coming, and all that matters is that he or she gets here healthy; so if that requires doing the opposite of what you planned then, in that moment of decision making you need to be willing to change tactics.
My Wife is a Warrior Not only is childbirth badass, but so is my wife. We went into the hospital with a number of birth wishes and, in the face of lots of pain and a few complications, she did exactly what she wanted: an unmedicated birth with no interventions. That is what makes her a badass warrior. I watched the pain on her face; I saw how she dealt with ever increasing contractions that lead to some primeval noises; I heard her say, at times, that she couldn’t do it. But I have always known that she is tougher than I or anyone can give her credit for. This just proves
You Will Be Exhausted; Acknowledged and Come to Terms with It. I will say this: I’ve been more tired at other times in my life, but having a child takes exhaustion to a whole new level. Functionally exhausted. The nights in the hospital were rough, but we managed with the nurses there. The first night home left us completely drained, both mentally and physically. You just have to recognize that you are going to be tired for a very, very long time. But that’s ok, because the reason for being tired is unlike any of the past reasons you might have had — kegger? road trip? homework? dance party? — nope. You are taking care of a brand new human life. Blam-o. Take that younger me.
It’s (a good) Hard This dad thing is really hard. It’s only been a week. Hell, I knew that the moment I first held her. But you know what? It is the most rewarding hard thing I have ever done in my life. I remember sitting at an aid station during my 50k thinking “This is so hard, but I’m here. I have gotten to this moments, and the whole set of past moments has been pushing me beyond this one and towards the finish.” So hardness be damned. Get up and get it done. That, readers, is a parenthood-anecdote-light. You don’t think twice about getting up at 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7am to help change diapers, to hold little hands away from a little face, to get water or ice packs, to make dinner and clean dishes, or walk the dog……you don’t think twice about doing these things because every past moment has lead you through this moment now towards the seemingly endless moments to come. Get up and get it done. Get up, embrace the hard, and love your kid.
I’m sure there will be lots more nuggets of wisdom to come. The set of life experiences I’ll have will no doubt grow exponentially in the coming days, months and years. I’ll probably fail at doing somethings; but I’ll probably succeed at lots of others. All I can hope for is to take what I’ve learned so far, apply it to the moments to come, and do the best I can.
Eat Consciously // Live Deliberately // Love Maximally
Poppa Dr. Jon