Congratulations - the little one that you've been waiting expectantly for all these months, is finally here. Now, the mandatory 24 hours later, you get to bring him / her home. If you're one of the lucky ones who happen to have the luxury of an extra room (and money to spend of course) to be converted into a baby room, you would have taken all the pains to ensure that you left no stone unturned to ensure the room is cutely furnished and perfectly stocked with a year's supply of nappies, baby wipes, baby creams and stuffed toys. It is your first baby after all :) In an ideal world, you'd be very relaxed at this point, having completed the prerequisite 40 odd weeks as well as the really intense labour session.You know what, that was the easy part. Things are only going to get tougher from here on, but in a good way.
Often you hear inexperienced people say "Newborns, oh aren't they a piece of cake! All they do is Eat, Poop and Sleep". Frankly, the statement isn't without some truth. They do "eat, poop and sleep". What people often fail to mention are the effects that these three actions have on new parents. Since a quick google on the "effects of newborns on new parents" can spill out more accurate results, I'm going to leverage this space to talk about three golden rules, which if adhered to, can hopefully help you retain some sanity and strengthen those bonds, during this testing phase. And yes, there are purely from a dad's point of view.
Yes, you've all heard it. Every single person who has been through this "kid-venture" would have invariably offered both your wife and yourself this wholesome yet free advice of "Sleep while the baby sleeps"; At the time, like me, you'd have dismissed it as if it wasn't applicable to you. Strike 1. It is very much applicable to you; actually it is most applicable to you as the dad than for the mom, since she probably has the chance to nap when the baby does. To all the Mothers - No, I'm not saying that you would actually manage to catch some shut-eye when the baby naps, but at least you have the opportunity whilst on maternity leave. However for most of us working dads, paternity leave lasts a week to two at most. Which means past that stay-at-home period, the last thing you'd want is a "noisy, crying" baby disturbing the few hours of precious sleep that you can afford during night time. Now I could probably write a whole post on "post-baby sleeping habits" (actually I think I might); however for now, rule number 1: Sleep - Take it wherever and whenever you get it. You are going to need it!
b. Share the baby duties:
This is probably the most taken-for-granted part of the parenthood cycle. Most modern day fathers will definitely claim to have played a part in fulfilling the aforementioned duties. Dig deeper with the wife/partner, and you'll discover that "playing a part" involved merely "cuddling with the newborn". Whilst it is definitely a recommended activity, it shouldn't stop there. I might sound preachy, but if you are a small family, without a lot of constant presence from family, then the father-of-the baby definitely needs to step up and play a more vital part. There are a number of different advantages to this one, with the obvious one being that you get a bit more closer to your offspring. Sharing the duties also ensures that there's not a lot of guilt-tripping going around, which means, you know those days when your favourite team's playing and you want nothing more than sip some chilled beer and watch the game - your better half will actually let you off without any nagging. Though, it is very likely that you'll owe her a "ladies day out" with her friends as well, while you take care of the little one.
c. Listen, understand, and sometimes just shut-up
I suppose its only fair to say that these three titular points are applicable in most relationships, even in ones without the babies. Nevertheless, they tend to be more profound immediately after you've had a little one. I mean, look at the big picture here - Your better half has just pushed out a three-odd kg human being out not so long ago. She is tired, cranky, sleep-depraved, constantly having to pump or breast feed, change nappies, and so-on. To top it off, she still has the baby fat and is now constantly losing strands of hair, which prompts the occasional shrieks from her. So expect a rant every now and then, and cut her some slack. I guarantee you, the madness will end. The sooner we can turn into angels of peace, the easier you can get through this phase.
I just wish someone had told me earlier - I had a very practical crash course, sort of on-the-go training so to speak.