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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » So I'm going to be a Dad.

   
Author Topic: So I'm going to be a Dad.
Orincoro
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You know, I never really saw myself as the marrying type in the first place, so if you'd asked me two years ago if I could see myself as a father in 2014, I would have called that a remote possibility.

And so it comes to pass that my wife Sasha is now at least 4 weeks pregnant. Our parents, doctor, and lawyer know, but nobody else does. Save for a friend-couple who are expecting a child within the week, who somehow intuited the situation after having dinner with us 2 weeks ago.

My wife somehow held it all together on the friday she told me, until we were walking home from the cinema, and she stopped and burst out in tears- and I knew why immediately. I had been considering the possibility myself. We were planning to wait a few more years, as we're both pretty young, but this is life, and I won't dwell on other possibilities. We're both tremendously excited about this, as are our parents. I've just had some very sad moments in remembering my own father, who passed only 7 months ago. He would have been so happy.

While there is some worry about ongoing bleeding, the OB we went to (who we didn't like, and will find someone new to replace), has assured us that his can be normal. Sasha is a worrier by nature, so we'd like to find an OB with a little more focus on TLC. Czech doctors are not known for bedside manner, but are generally competent- birth stats are pretty good here.

The funny part of it is, though we technically got married already, we were planning on a kind of party-wedding to take place here in June, where we would do a proper reception for family who couldn't come last year to the small event we had with the justice of the peace. We're still going to have the big wedding and everything, but among Sasha's first calmer reactions to the news was to laugh and say that she would have to totally change her plans about the dress. In this country though, pregnant weddings (or weddings featuring infants) are closer to the rule than the exception, so I think we're covered. A not-uncommon site at the wedding market that we went to this weekend was a couple with a small child browsing for locations for their wedding. That's just the way people do it here.

So I'm telling you all, I guess just to hear a few stories from the dads out there, Tom, Dan, et al. What's the thing that surprised you? What was easier than you expected? What did you do right, or wrong, and recommend I do (or not do) for my wife during this time?

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Samprimary
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Hahaa. I want fatherhood to go fantastically and offer all the well wishes in teh world and want the baby to be delivered safely and be healthy and sometime in the 2030's you'll get your first "much like your posting, dad" rebuke from orincoro jr.
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Orincoro
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I'll take it. [Smile]
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advice for robots
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Congratulations, Orincoro! I hope everything continues to go well and that your wife is able to stay in good health.

Our first was born almost 13 years ago, so it's been a while since I was an "expecting" dad. Here's what I can remember:

Easier than expected: Settling on the fact that I was going to be a dad. It's a big shift in outlook, but it seemed to happen fairly naturally over my wife's first pregnancy. I suppose not every dad-to-be will make that transformation quite as easily, if at all, but that's how it was for me.

A surprise: That we didn't know a whole lot about adult-size responsibilities before the baby was on her way. Nothing else in our lives thus far really compared to this. Funny how even contemplating being completely responsible for another person changes those perceptions. Of course, it wasn't until our daughter was born that it really settled in how permanently changed our lives were.

Something I did right: I held my wife's hair back from her face while she threw up. She got pretty sick in the evenings during her second trimester. I tried to do a lot of things to support her, but that's one thing that really showed my commitment. [Smile] I never had to go get pickles and ice cream at 3 am but I did do a lot of impromptu back rubs, water runs, and therapeutic pillow talk. I really did try to do everything I could to make it easier for her.

Something I did wrong: Joking about any aspect of my wife's pregnancy, however light-hearted and well-meant--including her having to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes. She was never in the mood for that.

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Orincoro
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Thanks afr! My wife has a good sense of humor, but she also has a "joking time is over," face that I am familiar with. I will pay attention to this.
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dkw
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Congratulations!

If you don't mind suggestions from a mom, one thing that really surprised me was how exhausting building a baby can be. There were times when I wasn't doing anything . . . just sitting there . . . but I was completely wiped out. And I felt guilty about that. One of the most awesome things Bob did for me was to just quietly pick up things that were normally my job and tell me it was okay to rest. Remember (and remind her) that even if it looks like she's being a lazy lump, her body is working hard.

Edit: and then there may also be times when she has 5X her normal amount of energy. Pregnancy is weird.

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theamazeeaz
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Congrats and good luck!

Now stop telling people until your wife is 12 weeks along. Miscarriages are super super common. I'm not sure the percentage of people who have babies who have had at least one miscarriage, but it's huge and hard to measure. But one you hit 12 weeks, the odds your wife is going to have one is low.

I first found out my sister was pregnant at 8 weeks, and it was actually the second pregnancy. EVERY time I told someone I was excited but couldn't get my hopes up for another month, their response was that THEY had a miscarriage, or if they had never been pregnant their most immediate relative did.

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stilesbn
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Congrats! We had our first child 8 months ago.

We took a pregnancy class and found it really helpful. We went in knowing what to expect and it pretty much turned out that way. We did a Bradley Method class (which is all about natural births) even though we ended up getting an epidural. It was very good at preparing us for everything. So I would recommend finding one of those classes even if you don't plan on doing everything that way (i.e. natural, hypno-birth, water birth, etc.) Or perhaps your country has its own classes there.

I do find parenthood easier than I'm told it should be, I've found most things in my life to be easier than I'm lead to expect. Apparently I only know doomsayers.

A big thing is your wife is going to have all sorts of crazy stuff happening to her body and mind. I think dkw's advice is better than anything I could say on that point.

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scifibum
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Advice: Be patient, be humble, be there, pay attention.

Surprised:

By how the (surprise, oops) baby became completely and irrevocably mine. Before it arrived I was scared, uncertain, but trying to invest myself. I didn't know how it would work. I would have changed things, if I could have. I was trying very hard but I still felt uncertain.

So I was surprised that when the baby came, I was effortlessly and forever Casey's dad. I didn't worry any more about whether I could do it. There was no question. I was in.

What I did wrong:

At some point I drifted into a passive sort of absenteeism. It happened gradually. I spent hours every day holding my first baby, at home, talking and playing with him. And then again with the second. But when the third came, I was trying to get a college degree and advance my career and I started to gratefully accept any chance I got to opt out of something: a trip to the store, a family party, a meal together. I was overstretched and under a great deal of stress. I thought it was temporary. I still loved my children, and I wasn't completely absent. I thought/hoped that was enough. It wasn't.

I finished college and advanced my career, but the marriage fell apart and my kids are still (forever?) recovering from the stress of that and the extended deficit of attention and involvement. (To be clear: they are fine. Things could be much, much worse. But playing catch-up with regard to their intellectual and emotional development is very difficult - particularly in the process and aftermath of divorce.)

Sometimes you won't have any real choice about whether circumstances limit how much time and energy you can spend with your family. Sometimes, though, you will. I wish that I'd chosen to invest more time and energy with the kids. (As for the marriage, it was probably doomed from the start. But there's certainly a good chance things could have gone down more smoothly and sanely if I'd kept more focus at home.)

What I did right [when I wasn't absent]:

Nurturing. Holding, touching, feeding, changing, bathing, playing. I think there's probably nothing more important to help a dad cement his bond with the baby.

Be predictable. I could not have grokked this from my own childhood memories, and so it surprised me how true it turned out to be in our case, but kids THRIVE on predictability. They need to know that boundaries exist and where they are. Routines are comforting and help conserve emotional resources.

Follow the mother's lead with regard to childbirth and feeding. There's always some ideal, but it's more important to be supportive and flexible than to attain the ideal. It's also very easy to mistake a desire not to argue for an agreement. So listen and be positive.

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BlackBlade
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Haha! I'm so thrilled for you. I won't give much advice yet, but I will say fatherhood has been one of the absolute best things to ever happen to me.
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Kwea
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Same here. It's the best.

Cailee is almost 9 months old now, and the first 2 months were the toughest. Babies keep their own hours, and I though I could manage that, as I keep late hours myself when I can. But it's not the same at all.

It gets easier, and in the end it is worth all of it, now matter how hard it becomes.


One thing I learned, and that my wife struggles with even now, is that sometimes babies cry for NO REASON AT ALL! It doesn't mean they are wet, or hungry, and when this happens EVERYTHING you do will annoy them more. It's not their fault.....it is all new to them, and they are just confused, and learning every second of the day.


It's OK to turn the monitor down a bit, let them cry for a while, and see if it stops on it's own. It doesn't make you a bad parent, or neglectful. It's just means you are human, and sometimes need a small break. Check to see they are dry, and well fed....then walk away before you drive yourself AND them even more crazy. Give it 20-30 min, then creep in and see them sleeping quietly. [Big Grin]

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Dogbreath
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Congratulations!

No advice for kids (haven't got any yet), but I hope everything goes well. We also just got married in a small justice of the peace ceremony last week, having a bigger ceremony with family and friends in September.

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Kwea
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Pregnancy explained....
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Lyrhawn
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Congrats Orincoro! So happy for you and your wife.

My brother just became a father (and me an uncle) and everyone couldn't be happier. You'll make a great father.

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Szymon
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Congrats! Happy for the three of you!
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by theamazeeaz:
Congrats and good luck!

Now stop telling people until your wife is 12 weeks along. Miscarriages are super super common. I'm not sure the percentage of people who have babies who have had at least one miscarriage, but it's huge and hard to measure. But one you hit 12 weeks, the odds your wife is going to have one is low.

I'm talking about it here, nowhere else.
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Bokonon
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As a person whose wife had a miscarriage at week 10, I disagree with theamazeeaz whole-heartedly. It was worse being sad and people asking why and the awkwardness of them knowing you hadn't told them about the pregnancy when you then told them about the miscarriage.

That said, do what you want. Every situation and set of people are different.

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Geraine
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From another future father to you, Congrats!

My wife is 32 weeks and it's been exciting, especially when the kid starts kicking. A couple of nights ago the kid kicked the hardest I've ever felt a baby kick. We are now saying he is going to be a soccer player, and will be calling him "Ryker the Striker"

Seriously though, I'm happy for you.

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TomDavidson
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Congratulations!
I just had my third a few months ago, and the only real advice that I think would apply to all of them -- since in my experience each baby has been different enough that almost nothing applies universally -- is that you need to be willing to cut yourself some slack. Because you will be tired. I don't think it's possible to appreciate how much leisure time childless couples have until you have a child and it mostly vanishes -- and that's not even getting into the effects of sleep deprivation. For the first few months, don't feel guilty about not getting much done. You will withdraw from the world a bit, but around month nine you'll start edging back into it. Give yourself -- and your wife -- that time, guilt-free.

You're going to be a great dad. [Smile]

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Orincoro
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Thanks Tom. [Smile]

I'm in a good situation in that respect, as I left my very high stress job a few months ago and am doing consulting and some other more leisurely projects that pay a lot more but can be done at home. I joined a shared workspace, which has been really nice and productive for me, and am making almost the same money for much less time at the office (like, MUCH less). Still not a ton of money, but a much better feeling at home- I can come and go shopping with my wife in the afternoon and finish my work while she makes dinner, for example. She loves it too, and I guess it will be an advantage when the baby is here.

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twinky
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Congrats. [Smile]
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stacey
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Congratulations!
I just had my third a few months ago, and the only real advice that I think would apply to all of them -- since in my experience each baby has been different enough that almost nothing applies universally -- is that you need to be willing to cut yourself some slack. Because you will be tired. I don't think it's possible to appreciate how much leisure time childless couples have until you have a child and it mostly vanishes -- and that's not even getting into the effects of sleep deprivation. For the first few months, don't feel guilty about not getting much done. You will withdraw from the world a bit, but around month nine you'll start edging back into it. Give yourself -- and your wife -- that time, guilt-free.

You're going to be a great dad. [Smile]

Yeah, this.

Remember your wife is growing a baby! She may get tired (and frustrated that she is so tired) during pregnancy, even (especially) in the early stages when she isn't showing yet. She looks the same as always, but she's not - she's growing an actual human being, inside her body! How freakin amazing is that? Pretty amazing. And also tiring and hard on the body.

Like Tom says, cut yourselves some slack.

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Orincoro
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Actually Sasha is exhibiting superhuman energy this past week. As someone noted would be possible. She's 7 weeks now.

We do stay up late as a rule (I work with clients in the US sometimes, so I need to work until evenings), but I had to very firmly draw the line on her getting up from bed at 1am to do another round of laundry. Which of course she insisted "had" to be done. She has been unstoppable all week. She re-organized all the wardrobes and linens, and packed a huge suitcase for her visit to Ukraine, which she was going to take on a bus to the airport. I insisted on a cab, and only let her take half as much stuff as she planned (shipping gifts and stuff is better than paying the baggage fees). It's crazy.

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