I read a lot and talk a lot about being a new dad, and I keep coming across some of the same concerns. I think it's time I tackle a few of them! Have a new dad question you want answered? Send me a message!
Should I cut the umbilical cord? What if I screw it up? What if I can't do it in time?
Hey, you. You there. With the opposable thumbs and the functioning brain. Please tell me you don't really think you can mess up cutting a cord with what amounts to a pair of safety scissors.
Try this scenario : Grab a piece of rope. Throw some jelly on it. Glue one end to your dog. Tie the other end to your wife and kick her in the groin. (Gotta really recreate the right mood). Now grab the rope and cut it. Did she die? Did you accidentally cut off your dog's wiener? Did you get distracted and eat the jelly?
Dude, you can handle it. The nurse or doctor will hold the umbilical cord taut after it is clamped and hand you medical scissors (the cord doesn't have nerves, so it won't hurt anyone). Some couples wait a little bit to cut the cord, maybe a minute or more after delivery, to maximize the nutrients going to the baby.
One snip and you are done - you can see me cut my daughter's cord in the photo, and she still has all of her limbs, although she used to be a boy. Just kidding, calm down.
The whole thing takes one second, and it does not impact the way your baby's belly button is shaped. It's a cool dad thing to do. Just like your cable bill. cut the cord.
How long until I can go out with the baby by myself without any help? It's gotta be way too much to deal with without someone there to help me! My GOD Man, Why Not just douse me in gasoline and light a match?
If there's one thing you should do as a new dad to get comfortable as fast as possible, it's take your baby out in public by yourself as much as you can as soon as you can. It'll make taking care of the baby at home that much easier, and it makes you feel more connected to your kid that much faster. Kinda like learning to ride a bike - you can keep the training wheels on forever but if you take them off quickly, sure, you might fall a few times but you'll learn quickly. I think it's helped me get to the point where now I take my son out all the time by myself - that's us getting some Mexican food above - and it's "our thing." It took months of of hauling a baby seat around and diaper changes in random restrooms and some tears - some of them even his - but I feel much better off than if I had only gone out with him if I had help.
(Quick note: Preemies and brand new babies in general need to stay out of crowded areas for a bit until their immune systems can develop some, so this is more about being cool with taking them out when the time comes.)
Don't think you will fail. Let's think of a couple worst-case scenarios for taking your baby out in public alone:
- The baby poops: That's why you have a diaper bag. Although men's rooms aren't great about having a diaper changing table, you can either have a mat with you, or, as I've done many a time, change them in your car. Even with a poopy diaper, you can do it in a matter of a couple minutes and be on your way. It's a minor inconvenience, not a dealbreaker.
- The baby screams: First off, if you think the baby isn't screaming when your wife takes her out alone, you're crazy. She does. She'll probably do it a little for you, too. But you need to know that it's not your fault, and that people aren't going to think less of you as a dad. The real truth is that, even though it's not fair, you'll get more sympathy from strangers because you're a dad and not a mom. They think you're being brave or something. So when the baby screams? You bust out some dad moves, like shhing loudly in their ear (read about my favorite baby calming techniques), tossing them in a baby carrier so they feel close to you but you still have your arms free, or making sure they don't have to burp. Let me be honest: A few times I've had to leave a store because my son wouldn't calm down, and it sucks. I felt like people were staring at me, and it was really frustrating because he wouldn't calm down or demanded to be carried the whole time when that wasn't possible. In the moment? Not great. But I do not recall this ruining my life. It happens. It's part of being a parent, like a badge of honor.
- You can't get tons of stuff done like used to: So you want to accomplish X, Y, and Z when you head out like you have for so many years, and now you're being asked to take the baby with you so your wife can take a nap or go drink merlot or whatever she wants because she probably deserves it. This is such a good opportunity to both score points and do some baby bonding! But then you start doing errands and you're putting the baby in and out of a car seat and changing a diaper and having to take multiple trips to the car because you have your arms full, and all of a sudden you only got 2 things done. This is not a reason to leave the baby at home. This is a reason that you have to adjust some expectations and realize that taking the baby out of the house for a few hours is, by itself, an accomplishment. You are taking care of your kid, which is great! Just don't think you can do everything like you always did. Focus on the top 1-2 priority items, and then you won't get frustrated and think you don't want to take the baby with you the next time around. (Also, the baby? He loves coming with you, man. Loves it. Especially if you put him in a baby carrier like a boss.)
I can still play video games as a dad, right?
Sure! If that's your thing and you want to jump on XBox when the baby is asleep and the house isn't a wreck, I can't see any reason why not! Everyone needs something non-baby to relieve stress. Plus, sometimes you gotsta blow stuff up.
But you really, really need to make sure you get that if the baby cries five minutes after you start playing Call of Duty, it doesn't matter what your kill total is at that point or what 12-year-old you've publicly shamed with your online multiplayer skills ... if you're on duty, you have to take care of the baby first. Baby duty before Call of Duty, so to speak. And if your wife is resting, you playing the game doesn't mean you are "busy" and that she should get up. You're on call. That way when the tables are turned, you aren't giving her a reason to interrupt your downtime. Makes sense, right?
Don't think you can't be creative, though. If the baby is cool with it, toss her in a carrier and you can sway gently back and forth standing up while you play. Or if she just needs calmed down, it's easier to spend 10-15 minutes getting her back to sleep than it is doing it half-ass for 30 minutes because you've got one hand on the controller trying to snipe someone while simultaneously bottle feeding ... even if that's kinda impressive to snipe someone and bottle feed at the same time.
My wife is getting so emotional and excited looking at the sonogram, but I don't see anything but a Gray blob. Is there something wrong with me? Am I dead inside? Did the terrorists win?
Nope. First, dads don't feel the baby inside them or have hormonal changes the same way as ladies. So there's a physiological reason.
Second, yeah, dude, it looks like a blob. It makes sense that for some guys, it's hard to get a tear going over what appears to be a Rorschach test (in hindsight, it's incredible that little blob turns into an adorable baby. Seeing an ultrasound can have a major impact on some guys because everything becomes real, but for others, it's just a cool thrill to see the visual confirmation.
Until you see fingers moving or a face, it may not seem like a baby yet. You know what? It may not seem like your baby until he comes out! And that's OK, too. If you're being supportive and excited about the process, I don't believe it's a problem if you don't have some kind of emotional connection to your unborn kid just yet. When you see him come out, that might be the moment everything clicks and you go, "Ohhhhhhh NOW I get what this is about." Guys are visual. We want to see it right in front of us. I was really excited about my son, but everything didn't really fall into place until he was born, and, truthfully, it took a few months before I really felt that strong fatherhood connection coming in. I turned out OK.
If you've got a new dad question you want me to answer, just shoot me a message!