New Dad’s Know Best… Help Me
Today I thought about how it felt to be a new dad. This took place a few years ago, but I think I remember. Many emotions crossed my path: pride (wow, I’m a father); love (total and unconditional); and especially fear (where in the hell is the owner’s manual?). I remember those first few diapers. Meconium scared the heck out of me. I thought it doesn’t get any grosser than this (boy, was I mistaken).
Reality set in on mother and child’s last night in the hospital. The nurse casually mentioned to us about taking the baby home the next morning and I wanted to ask if she was coming with us. We weren’t ready to care for this little creature on our own (at least that’s what I thought).
The next day I spent what seemed like and hour in the hot SUV (I now drive a minivan) trying to figure out how to work the infant carrier. It’d never crossed my mind to learn this ahead of time. Now that I mastered how to get the seat out of the vehicle I had to figure out how to get the baby into it.
I remember driving home from the hospital and looking at the rest of the cars on the road as potential dangers to my daughter. I just hoped that I didn’t hit anyone and “break” the baby. We made it home safely somehow.
As I walked in my house the whole world seemed different… and it was. I was now responsible for another human being… for the rest of my life. You talk about pressure.
Besides getting used to the backwards sleeping pattern (slept all day, awake most of the night) of our daughter, I had to keep checking if she was still breathing. Not that I was paranoid or anything. Hearing that deep breath is the most gratifying sound as I peered in the bassinette. I remember going from joy to despair when my short walk back to bed jarred her out of her sleep. My wife would look at me with disgust. I felt shame, but repeated this ritual many times.
The nurse from the pediatrician’s office called a few days after we brought the bundle of joy home and asked the new mommy what color her stool was… baby’s that is. As this question was asked I learned a valuable lesson about changing diapers; never stand in the line of fire. I was hit with a direct shot of stool sample. The yellowish shrapnel went from my shirt down to my socks (both of them). My wife chuckled and had an immediate answer for the nurse. I thought it was a badge of honor, but reluctantly changed my clothes at the urging of my wife.
I’ve been a father for a few years now and have come to grips with it. We even had a second child (we’re gluttons for punishment) as soon as we forgot how it was having a newborn around. I wouldn’t change anything for the world, but I barely remember what it was like those thirty something years before I joined the ranks of parenthood.
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