Experiences of a New Dad: Some Practical Advice by Todd Dominey
March 16, 2006
When Sophia was born a week ago today, I knew I was in for quite an experience. Everyone has heard the horror stories of how exhausting, yet exhilarating having a newborn baby can be, but take it from me — it’s impossible to know how intense the experience is until you’ve lived it. So with that, here are a few tidbits of advice for the soon-to-be dads out there.
Bring something to sleep in/on
When I arrived at the hospital early in the morning last week, where I was going to be sleeping 18 hours later was the last thing on my mind. I had assumed I would probably dash home for a quick rest and come back to the hospital, but trust me — you won’t want to leave. Not just from the sheer excitement of it all, but because by that point the adrenaline in your body will have dissipated and left you pretty much incapable of doing anything, including driving. So be sure to check out the post-birth rooms they put you in beforehand, and see what kind of furniture they offer. In my case, there was a single chair that folded out into a platform of sorts. It was about as comfortable as it sounds, and my back was a wreck after two days of it. So if you have a single inflatable mattress or pad with a sleeping bag, that would do the trick.
Stay away from caffeine
I purposely weaned myself off coffee a few weeks back to avoid having caffeine crashes during this time, and it’s worked out really well. It’s so tempting at the hospital to do nothing but slam coffees and sodas to keep going, but what you really need is water. Lots of water. Just keep drinking it and you’ll be in much better shape.
We brought an iPod with portable speakers to the hospital, and it made all the difference in the world. Music instantly transforms whatever room or emotional state you’re in. Stock the iPod up with music both of you like, and is mellow enough not to agitate. I put every Jack Johnson album I have on ours, and we played it non-stop the whole time we were there.
Don’t come home to an empty house
By the time you get home, you’ll be pretty much spent, and the last thing on your mind will be cooking or dealing with household tasks. A couple of friends or relatives being there when you arrive makes all the difference. It won’t be the same house you left from here on out.
Take care of mom
Chances are, mom won’t be feeling all that great for a few days after delivery, so don’t be surprised if you end up having to tend to her needs as well (in addition to the baby), so your time may be even more limited than expected.
Force yourself to sleep
Your sleep schedule will change to naps instead of long stretches. An hour here, and hour there, but rarely more than a couple of hours without being woken up to take care of something. Rule of thumb — whenever the baby sleeps, you sleep. Cause lord knows when they’re awake, you will be too.
This is quite possibly the most important point of them all. At least two weeks out from the delivery date, be sure that you’ve already stocked up on everything, and have completed any home projects (including setting up a nursery). You don’t want to be running out to the grocery in the middle of the night to get wipes or diapers. Stock up. Get a Costco/Sams membership if you don’t have one.
Who wants to take photos of a newborn with an outdated, low megapixel camera? Take this opportunity to get the things you’ve wanted, including a new digital camera and camcorder. These may very well be some of the most important photos and video you shoot in your lifetime, so your hardware should be up to snuff.
Before you leave for the hospital, don’t forget to setup auto-responders for your email, especially if you do business online. Also set up your DVR to record some of your favorite TV shows, plus anything else you might be interested in watching later. I loaded ours up the day before, and by the time we got home there was a ton of material to watch anytime we wanted. Handy whenever you can’t sleep, the baby is cashed out, and there isn’t a damn thing on TV.
Sounds hectic, doesn’t it? It will be at times, but it won’t always be that way. Prepare, rest up, take care of yourself, and you’ll have plenty of time and energy to soak in everything else.
Reprinted with permission from www.whatdoiknow.org.