Despite all the reading and preparation, nothing can quite prepare you for the feelings you’ll have during the first few weeks after delivery. Here are some of the emotions many new fathers feel:
What is this feeling I have for this baby? Is it love?
Up to now, you’ve known romantic love or love for a parent or sibling. Nothing is the same, though, as the love you feel for this part of you that is now your responsibility.
Why don’t I feel about the baby the way my wife does?
While you may have these strong protective feelings toward your new baby, you may not understand why you don’t seem to bond the same way mom does. Don’t worry; dads develop a relationship with babies at their own pace, and the type of daddy-child bond you are imaging will develop over the next few years, and usually not immediately.
Why do I feel jealous about a ten-pound baby?
Not me! I’d never be jealous of a little baby. You may be surprised though when you get very few of the kisses and your wife no longer has time to make you feel special. This is a shock to many dads and a potential source of stress if you’re not aware of it.
Why do I feel depressed? What have I done? How did I get here? When will it end?
After the baby comes home, the flowers and gifts quit coming and the extra help has left, it’s normal to have a reaction to the setting in of a new reality. You’re not getting enough sleep and facing an endless rhythm of diapers and feeding, and meanwhile you’re back at work, wondering how you’ll ever keep up.
Am I really meant to be a dad? Was this a complete mistake?
It’s completely natural to stare at your new baby and wonder I you’ll be the dad you want to be, if you feel strongly enough to be the person you want to be.
Why I am so on edge? Is it fear?
Of course, it’s fear. Until this moment, you only had to really worry about yourself since your wife can most likely take care of herself.
Now you have to face up to many fears at the same time. Will you be a good enough father? Can you protect your child from all the dangers, real and imagined, in the world? Do you have enough financial security? Will you always be here for him or her? This is perfectly normal and part of the transition to becoming a dad.
Will I still love my wife now that she’s a mom?
Your wife may be a few pounds heavier now. Sex might not be something she’s interested in anymore, at least for now. She might even strangely remind you of your own mother. For some men, their feelings about their spouse intensify during pregnancy, but for others, it’s a shock. It reminds them they are no longer young or free to do as they choose, and that can itself be very frightening. There is no good answer here except that you have to come to terms with your new role as a partner and provider.
Having a baby, in the best of situations, is a decision you make because you’re ready for the major changes it entails. If you’re having a baby in less than perfect circumstances (it’s unexpected), this doesn’t change your responsibility once you’ve decided to have the baby together.
Most couples find that after kids they have to reestablish the intimacy they had before the baby. Many do this through planned “date nights” or eventually, even weekends away. You’ll find that you will have to schedule time to be together to keep a real relationship going.
Why doesn’t the baby like me?
First of all, little babies don’t give a lot of feedback to anything, so don’t sweat it. Pretty soon, though, you’ll be getting a nod and a smile. You’ll have to keep your expectations low however. The first few years are really about mommy. But don’t worry, if you’re there early on, you’ll have a very strong relationship to build from when this time changes.
Are we becoming our parents?
Join the club – very soon, you’ll find yourself an hour into a discussion about strollers, diapers, feedings, and bottles and wonder to yourself what happened. Didn’t you agree with your wife that you would never become one of “those people”? It’s hard to avoid these topics since the baby and his needs are going to be running your life for at least the next three to four years.
Does it have to be so complicated?
It’s usually the dad who wonders why mom has to have everything on a list, everything in its place, and everything on a schedule. That’s why dads get a lot of teasing for arriving at the playground without extra formula or diapers. With a little practice, though, dads get the hang of what’s really important. It doesn’t need to be complicated but you do have to prepare for feedings and diapering or you’re in big trouble. Keep those two things always in mind and most of the rest will usually follow.