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Becoming a father for the first time is often one of the most exciting experiences in life but at the same time, can also be a pretty terrifying prospect. No matter how prepared and ready you think you are, there will still be those unexpected moments of terror when you realise that you will be in charge of keeping another human alive and raising him/her into a fully functional person (*gulp*).
Some of the fears make sense – ‘What if I don’t get a full night’s sleep for another three years?’, ‘Will I really be able to afford a child?’ But others are downright irrational: ‘What if my child doesn’t like Star Wars?’, ‘Will I ever be able to play golf with my mates again?!’
But no matter reasonable these fears are, us soon to be Irish dads can’t help but have them. So to help alleviate the anxiety, here are some things every new dad should know before the baby arrives.
- You won’t get everything right
One of the things new dads fear most is being a bad parent. The fact is, you will be – at least some of the time. But you’ll also be an exceptional parent at other times. Having a baby for the first time is a rollercoaster and you’ll often feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. Just roll with it, embrace the challenge, enjoy the moments when you feel like you’ve succeeded and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
- Your relationship will change
If you and the baby’s mother are in a relationship, that relationship will change because, let’s face it, you’re adding a whole new person into the mix. The unfortunate thing is, you can’t predict how things will change. You might argue more, you might become more of a team, you might love each other in a totally different way – just be patient and understanding and perhaps willing to work a little harder than you have before.
- You have no idea what tired is
You might think you’ve experienced tiredness before but you’re wrong. Having a baby is absolutely exhausting. The sleepless nights are just part of that, as looking after the baby takes up so much more energy than you would expect. And when people without children complain about tiredness, you will smile and nod whilst internally seething and thinking ‘I hope someday you have octuplets.’
- It’s normal not to feel like a dad yet
Before the baby arrives, it’s normal to not feel like a father straight away. Your partner might already feel a connection as her body and hormones change and she’ll feel the baby move around in there. But it’s ok if you’re not in the same place right now. That moment will come when your baby arrives and you hold him/her for the first time.
- Babies look weird when they are born
Babies are cute. But not right away. When they’re first born, they are purply coloured, wrinkly, slimy creatures that squirm and scream and sometimes have cone shaped heads. Don’t get freaked out if your baby isn’t automatically the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Once they’ve been cleaned up and return to a normal colour, they’ll transform into the adorable, soft, little sweet smelling bundle of joy you were expecting.
- Not all poos will be as horrific as the first few
Baby’s first poo is like a crime scene – an enormous green smelly crime scene. Whilst there’s never anything pleasant about changing nappies, not all will be as bad as the first few.
- Nothing can prepare you for the first time you hold your child
We can’t go into detail because this feeling is indescribable. It will blow your mind.
- You will drive like 75 year old with cataracts when you bring that baby home
For the first while, every time you hold your child or transport them anywhere, it will feel like you are carrying the world’s most expensive and precious glass antique vase that could shatter at any moment. That first journey home from the hospital will see you sweat more behind the wheel than you did when you were doing your driving test.
- Don’t wish away the time
It’s normal to be excited about the milestones; when your baby walks and talks for the first time. And while these moments are so incredible, don’t wish the time away because babies don’t stay small for long and as they grow, you’ll wish you soaked up every single moment.
- Your partner has it harder than you
As hard as it can be to father a child – the sleepless nights, the constant feeling of worry that you’re doing it all wrong – just remember that the experience is ten times more overwhelming for the baby’s mother; who has undergone huge physical, hormonal and emotional changes. So whenever you feel stressed or strained remember that things are tougher for her.
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