Dear New Dad,
I’m certainly not a baby expert, but I have picked up a thing or two. So from one guy (who just went through the baby years twice) to another, let me offer a few words of wisdom I learned along the way:
A soaped-up baby is the slipperiest thing on the planet, so take extra caution at bath time.
Not all restaurants and stores have changing tables in the men’s room. Keep a changing pad in your travel bag and you’ll be able to take care of business in less-than-ideal situations.
At some point, you will be covered in more gross-ness than you ever imagined. It’s just part of it. The good news is that when you see your child covered in mess, your immediate reaction of disgust gets quickly outweighed by the realization that your child needs you desperately in that moment. You kick in to Superman mode to rescue your kid from the filth and just clean it up and go on. Then, depending on your personality, you either never speak of it again or tell your entire office about it the next day at work. Key ingredients here are humility, bravery, and hand sanitizer.
Remember the scout code: always be prepared. Deciding how to carry all the “stuff” is the first step. Thankfully we no longer have to lose man-points for carrying flowery or girly-looking diaper bags anymore. There are several places online that sell diaper bags for daddies. Some of them don’t look like diaper bags at all. Or, just dig out your old college backpack. It will work just fine.
Comedians and sit-coms love to make jokes about dealing with pregnant wives. But in all seriousness, it can be very difficult to realize that when she requests something ridiculous or things get heated for no reason, she may be speaking or reacting from a whirlwind of hormones and emotions. She will be back to normal soon. Wise dads can roll with it and laugh it off. Just not to her face. (Unless you want a chicken, cheese, and jelly sandwich in your face.)
My last and most important piece of advice is to cherish every single moment! I was warned a thousand times that “they grow up so fast.” But that’s because it’s true. Painfully true. There’s only one first night, one first week, one first month, and before you know it, your little one will be blowing out that first candle. It’s in our male psyche to work hard and put in long hours to provide for our families. But there is no regret quite so heavy as missing major milestones like a first smile, first crawl, or first word because you’re either away or –even worse – simply not present from “zoning out” on the couch.
Make sure you’re there.
Finally, relax! Enjoy this! Everything will be okay and you’re going to do just fine. You have what it takes. You were made for this.