The First Day
Good job, new dad, you made it this far. With our babies it happened at both ends of the extreme:
- a call from our doctor during a lunch out asking us if we would like to have our baby..
- a return call from our doctor in the early morning asking us to be at the hospital as soon as possible.
One extreme: casually finish our lunch then a walk to the hospital to the other extreme: racing “fast and furious” style in the late of night to the hospital.
It doesn’t matter how you get there, the day is here. The first day of the rest of your life. It was also by far the scariest and most powerful day of my life. No amount of classes or literature or advice can really prepare you for this day. But I offer my humble tip to make sure that you succeed in day one and set the tone for everything to come.
- Cut the cord. If you have chance, and the doctor asks, cut. It’s a metaphor on many levels. Think about it later, and for now just concentrate, and cut.
- Change the first diaper. Interrupt the nurse and get your hands dirty. Your wife just went through hell to get this little baby out of her, it’s the very least you can do. The steps are simple and if you don’t remember, the nurse will guide you. Its your baby. Begin to marvel at how much will be coming out of this baby in its diapers.
- Don’s stare at the boobs. I know you will want to. Sure, everyone else in the room will be watching and prodding and handling her boobs, but be courteous and pretend they are something else, like elbows. This will certainly help when it seems like everyone is getting more boob (I mean elbow) action than you.
- Bonding time. Read the pamphlet about Kangaroo Care.Then take a turn with your baby on your chest. The sheer awesomeness of this moment will be seared in your mind forever. You will never forget it.
- You are the Sous chef. In every regard, be the second in charge and be proud in that role. When your wife can’t be with the baby, take a turn. If the baby has to leave for a procedure, and everyone in the room is settled, go with your baby. It hits you that you are a protector now. Its OK, then, be the protector.
- Make time to shower. You will need to do this. Everyone else will want you to do this. It may take a couple of days, but definitely, make time.
It’s a small list. Your time will be anxious, confusing and wonderful–all at the same time.
My last suggestion might get you into trouble for years but it is worth it. After your baby is born and you are settled, take a few moments (dare I say hours) and marvel at what has happened. Just you three. Take a deep breath. Marvel some more. Then call and get everyone in the waiting room. We did this both times and those moments of calm seemed to set the tone for our entire stay in the hospital.
Everyone says this: it all goes by so fast. I never believed it but it seems that you blink and they are walking and talking.
Soak this in.