First Time Dad: Surviving the First Two Weeks

First Time Dad: Surviving the First Two Weeks

Hey dads or soon-to-be dads! I thought it would be fun to share my experiences and some thoughts I have about preparing to be a dad and how to survive those first couple of weeks home with your new baby. Hopefully some of my ideas can make things just a little bit easier for you on your adventure to becoming a new dad.

Prioritize

The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind is that I thought I had more time. Not to say we were procrastinating by any means, but our daughter decided to show up early and we weren’t completely ready. In fact, the day before, we had made a big trip and purchased furniture that needed to be put together. I hauled all of the boxes into our living room and put together the first piece. Satisfied with that, I told my wife I would finish the rest during the next couple of weeks and we decided to relax for the night. Much to our surprise, her water broke that night and all of my plans were out the window. Ahhhh, let the adventure begin!

The car seat wasn’t in the car, our bags weren’t fully packed, and our baby’s room wasn’t finished. All of these things added to the stress of an already stressful situation. If I was to do it again (and you bet I did with our second child!), I would make sure things were ready further in advance. Everything we read said to install the car seat in the car at 36-37 weeks, etc. but we didn’t consider that our baby could come earlier than that. Lesson learned.

The second time around, we had bags packed, the car prepped, and many of the details finalized very early in the process. Luckily, we didn’t need that advanced prep, but it made for less stress leading up to the big day.

The preparation phase

Like I said, preparation is key, but that can go beyond just getting the house ready. I’d recommend heading to Costco or whatever warehouse store you have near you and stocking up on the household necessities. Not only will you need them after the baby is born, but in the coming months, you’ll be very busy and might not want to take the time to shop more than you have to at that point. Another thing we found extremely helpful was a diaper subscription service and also using Amazon’s subscribe & save for formula delivery and other household items. Hey, you’re becoming a more efficient dad by doing that which is always a good thing! No worrying about running out of diapers or formula in the middle of the night because you or your spouse didn’t notice you were running low.

In the hospital

Let’s face it, you and your wife will be zombies after a night or two in the hospital. Even when your child sleeps, the nurses come in for checks so it feels like you never have a continuous hour to rest. My wife and I decided before our children were born that one of us would always stay with them in the hospital.

During the hospital tour, they told us this was very common and would absolutely facilitate that. However, in the middle of the night, when we were both extremely tired, multiple times the nurses tried to remove out baby from our room to do weight checks, etc. and told us it was fine. My wife was exhausted and I had to step up and make sure they honored our wishes. Once or twice we even got some pushback and a little bit of attitude for our decision. Be prepared to step up, wake up :), and run around with your baby for hearing tests, weight checks, etc. in the middle of the night. There’s plenty of time for sleep down the road!

Be a supportive dad

You and your spouse will be unimaginably tired during the first couple of weeks. Cherish the time you spend in the hospital because the real work begins when you get home and there is nobody around to help except the two of you. Your baby will wake up and stay up at all hours of the night. Be very aware of each other during this time.

If your spouse seems tired (dare I say “crazy tired”?), step up and take over for a bit. It is an important thing to do both for the health of your baby and wife and the sanity of your household. You’ll have to think on your toes and step in where you can help. There are some things that you won’t be able to do, such as feeding, depending on your situation, but there are plenty of other things, such as diaper changes and keeping up with the chores, that will help out a ton. Take the time and make your wife her favorite snack, bring her a nice drink, or anything like that. Don’t underestimate how much doing “small things” will make a huge difference!

Preparing to go back to work

Ah, the toughest part of all – knowing that you won’t be part of the day-to-day and having to leave your wife and child to head back to work. This was hard… brutally hard. After we spent an extended amount of time in the hospital with our first child, it felt as though I only had a bit of time at home with them before I was forced to get back to the office. If you have a flexible job, try to plan projects, conversions, or whatever applies to your field, either well before your due date or well after your due date. In my experience, you’ll be very tired and it really does make it a lot harder to think critically. You’ll thank yourself later.

You won’t know it all, but everything will be fine

Sometimes, I feel that there is a lot of pressure these days to know everything. It is OK to not know how to be a dad. Hopefully you’ve done the basic research and have the equipment necessary to keep your baby safe, but you’ll learn the rest as you go. Listen to advice that is given by friends and family, but don’t be afraid to do things in a way that works for your family. You’ll learn what your baby’s different cries mean, how to read temperaments, and everything else that comes along. Also, if you have medical questions, don’t hesitate to call your child’s pediatrician. That’s what they are there for and you’ll find that even though you might think your question is trivial, they will be happy to help. Soon you will hardly be able to remember a time before having children.

Enjoy every moment of it, the good and the bad, because before you know it, your newborn will be running around your house and you’ll long for the days you were able to hold them in your arms for hours on end.  Being a dad is the most amazing thing in the world.

I hope you find some of these suggestions helpful. If you have any tips or tricks to share that might help someone out, feel free to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

9 comments

Marilyn Lesniak

Thank you so much for linking at #overthemoon! I look forward to seeing what you share every week. Please come back for #WonderfulWednesday or #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Enjoy your week ahead.

Melissa Ruddy

Dad’s are the ultra important often left-out part of the equation. I know my husband was amazing after both our kids were born. Dad’s are so unrated and never really given the credit they deserve during this time I’m really glad you are giving the dad perspective.

The Efficient Dad

Thanks so much for the kind words and thank you for reading!

Lori Hill-Smith

Great advice for dads of newborns! Thanks for encouraging the fathers out there!!

The Efficient Dad

Hi Lori,

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Oh, I remember these first 2 weeks well… so exciting and EXHAUSTING!!! Thanks for sharing your tips with all of us — you’re a great dad!

The Efficient Dad

Exhausting might even be an understatement! But oh so worth it.

These are all great tips. I would add that in the hospital you can very nicely 🙂 ask your nurse not to disturb you in the middle of the night. I didn’t get this fun bit of information until my third child. I asked my nurse not to bother us and when baby woke up I would buzz. She did what I requested. Perfect night of rest, with only one interruption first night with new baby.

The Efficient Dad

Now that’s a great tip. I hope the future parents out there read this so they can enjoy some sleep in the hospital as well. Thanks!

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