Sunday, April 24, 2016


 What are the father's biggest takeaways from the first six months?


1. Things can always go wrong

I've written about the delivery previously.

We worked with a doctor from a very good hospital. An early blood test showed that we were high risk (AFP > 2.5), so we worked with a specialist and did double the normal number of prenatal visits. Her diet was great. We scheduled the induction slightly before she was supposed to go into labor. She was monitored constantly from the time we entered the hospital to the time things went bad.

With all of that, his oxygen still dropped and his heart nearly stopped forcing an emergency caesarean and several days in the NICU. Had we been at home when she'd gone into labor, he would have died. Had we gone somewhere other than an ER for delivery, he would have died.

2. Kids are expensive

This is obvious, and I knew it going in, but I'd thought it would be something like $10k/year. It's way more than that. I don't see this getting any better as he grows up because of college expenses and higher food costs.

3. Babies are really fun

There are too many things to list them all here, but a few that stand out as memorable and great to me are:
  • He was completely dependent on my wife for the first few weeks. When he was almost one month old, she was changing him and I came in to play with him, and he stared at me instead of her with a content look. It was a great feeling and he's been very interactive since then.
  • He had really bad gas problems from ~6 weeks to ~12 weeks. He would kick and scream and it was heartbreaking, but there were several things that eased his discomfort, and my favorite is what my wife calls the 'anteater' hold. It's a variant of a common gas hold where I cup his crotch and rest his head on my forearm right below the elbow. He would freak out, then fart loudly and relax, and when relaxing, his arms and legs went limp and he looked kind of like an anteater.
  • I don't remember exactly when it started (it was pre-daycare so sometime before he turned three months old), but a baby laughing is awesome. He does it a lot more often now, and we still get amused each time. It can be triggered by us tickling him, making sounds he finds funny, bouncing him up and down, etc. He often laughs so hard that he gets out of breath, gets a panicked look, sighs, and continues giggling.
  • When he was ~2 months old, we were watching Modern Family, and every time Sofia Vergara screamed, he would look at me and coo as if she were talking to him and he thought it was me and was trying to have a conversation. It was the first time I remember him cooing in a conscious way to try to get my attention.

 

4. I give up things without really thinking about it

I've noted that we are less social now. Other things that are obvious in retrospect also go. Traveling is much more complicated and not really worth it for fun currently (I'm looking forward to when he's ~5 and will start liking museums and stuff). Going to stores in person is much more of an inconvenience so we just shop online. Restaurants that require long waits are problematic.

The best way I can think of to communicate it to someone who hasn't experienced it is to think of any task that requires you to be away from home for greater than two hours. If your baby has trouble sleeping, that task is no longer possible.

Another aspect is that I have a drive to be home and around him that trumps everything else. See a really good job posting and want to apply? Unacceptable...this job would require more than 40 hours a week so no matter how cool it is, it's not worth it. Want to take MMA classes? I can, but that means I don't get to spend time with him a few days a week.

 

5. Breastfeeding takes absolutely forever

Each session is at least 20 minutes and sometimes up to 60 minutes. For the first month, there were >10 sessions most days. Even at six months, there are six or so sessions of either breastfeeding or breast pumping per day. It really adds up. He also often falls asleep during it, and we don't want to wake him, so my wife is stuck in that position for even longer. Buy a tablet or something else that you can use while the baby is feeding.

 

6. Changing diapers is actually quite fun

I'm not sure if it's because my wife and I often did it together with him, but he views diaper changes (or anytime he's naked) as play time and gets really happy when we do it. You can blow on his stomach to make him giggle. He puts his feet in his mouth at the most inconvenient times. He kicks the diaper and gets poop everywhere. It's all pretty great.

 

7. I get sick much more often

I typically get noticeably sick (e.g., vomit without being drunk or have a fever) less than once a year. It's happened four times in his first six months. I'm guessing it's a combination of sleep deprivation and him bringing things home from daycare



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