New Baby

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The Truth About Life As A Father

The Truth About Life As A Father

October 23, 2021 is when I became a dad and I’ve been one for about 20 months now. My son, Davis, is on his way to 2 years old and about to start pre-school. He’s the coolest little dude in the world and I’m so happy he’s here every day when I wake up in the morning, making himself known.

My life as a father started he was born and it’s been a real transformation to get to where I am today. We’re just getting started over here.

Becoming dad is a learning process…

I’ve done anything and everything that I could do to support my wife and the baby since we brought the little guy home but I’ve made all kinds of mistakes along the way, I admit that, I am a work in progress.

When we first brought the baby home I was working on contract and I could not take time off, I worked from home but I couldn’t support my wife in the way I needed to. That was a mistake. At first, I was dropping the ball on all kinds of things around the house…I wasn’t cleaning bottles fast enough, I wasn’t helping with breastfeeding gear the way I could have, I wasn’t managing formula and disposables…I didn’t have a grip on it, I needed to learn how to be helpful.

I had the instinct that I needed to ratchet up what I was doing and more importantly do more of what my wife needed me to do, not only what I thought was helpful to her, but what she actually needed me to do. I stumbled all over the place on this, it was tense and we had a hard time communicating a lot of the time I’d just jump on a chore or something like washing the dishes and I’d think, “I’m helping with the dishes so this is one thing my wife won’t have to worry about”, but that wouldn’t really be what she needed right at that time. I needed to be like her baby relief pitcher, but I didn’t know how to do that, I had to learn my wife and our baby to figure out where I’d fit in. How I could be useful even though I was working full time down the hall in my office? When did I need to come out and what needed to be my priorities at the end of the day? Not easy questions to answer when you’re in the scramble.

I had to learn to listen in a lot of ways, not just for words and for sounds (screeching intensifies). I needed to learn to read the room, read body language better, really observe our environment and more importantly I needed to know what to do with that information.

I thought I was ready for dad life

And I mean, I thought I was ready to have a baby and start doin’ it as a dad before we ever had the baby, we were in a good place, stable and I had my ducks in a row – we were ready to go and get this family started, my wife was ready. I had a 100% remote job and we had managed to move into a great house in a safe suburb, I’d been working towards that situation for years. We had a nest egg, we we’re crushing milestones one after another, cruising, and we were ready to build.

Mostly we were ready I think, we were more ready than a lot of people and on the older side for new parents, no Al Pacino but we were in our early 30’s. We both wanted to start our family and had been married a little while, we took steps to get into an environment where we could grow.

Reality is that even though you hear the stories, get the advice, read the articles, read the books (good for you) it’s just one thing to know what’s coming and another thing to participate. It’s like most things in life, you just don’t know what the hell you’re getting into until you’re up on stage and you’re playing the part. There were loads of things I didn’t know about, nobody told me about having a baby.

  • Babies have to get up every 2 hours to feed, sometimes more
  • Breastfeeding may not happen 100% naturally and it’s not simple
  • Milk production will stop if the baby does not feed frequently
  • You basically will stare at the baby monitor all night long, hearing every tiny noise in full HD
  • You have to sterilize pretty much everything, bottles, nipple tops, breast pump parts etc…
  • C-section pain makes it very hard to care for a baby full time
  • Babies don’t eat food, even baby food, they survive off the milk or formula at first
  • You can’t put anything in the crib with a baby, basically every comfortable thing is a hazard.
  • So many more things…

You’re the new guy, again

I felt like I was back on my first company job, you’ve finished your college course, gone through high school, gone through elementary school. You know for a fact you’re prepared to take on the job, and somebody will give it to you. The thing is nobody teaches you the little things, things you have to know and deal with minute-to-minute to really solve problems and get the job done right, nobody teaches you about the newest software or technology, and nobody introduces you to the people that you need to know….the problem is the trade knowledge, the stuff you can only learn on the job. Lots of things you will only learn living life as a father.

When you bring that baby home, even before you bring them home in the hospital, in the car…you find out really fast you are severely lacking on that insider info, you’re going to be learning a whole lot on this job. Putting that baby seat in the car, putting that baby in the seat, suction-cupping that sun shader – it’s all new stuff, things you’ve never done before and that you won’t know to do or won’t know how to do. Before we even left I was getting lessons from the nurse in the hospital room, the nice lady at Baylor showed me how to swaddle a baby, she was a master and that was a highly useful thing she taught me.

As a dad you’ve got to be pliable, situations happen basically all day long and you’ll be adapting one way or another. Sometimes it’s a good experience, you handle it, and problems get solved and other times you’re just going to be ill-prepared because you’re not that veteran dad yet, you don’t have that trade knowledge. Those are learning experiences.

  • You’ll run out of diapers or wipes
  • Maybe you’ll remember the formula but not the water
  • You might put expired milk back in the fridge
  • Your baby will fall asleep in the car at an inopportune time
  • You’ll lose a pacifier while you’re out, without a backup

The next time, you’ll be just that little bit more prepared. Your Diaper Bag will be heavier with the supplies you know you’ll need. I leave with a stacked diaper bag any time I go anywhere with little Davis, and I make sure my wife has a stacked diaper bag too when she starts her day with the baby. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst, usually it will go sideways out with the baby so just don’t leave the house without extra supplies. You’re probably forgetting something, so pack more than you think you’ll need.

Ride the lightning

I know everybody’s heard this but… childbirth is not for the faint of heart, it’s a primal and visceral experience. Your wife will be going through it physically and mentally, don’t just shrug off the trauma. It can take a long time, sometimes years to recover after a major surgery and there won’t be time for rest after you get back from the hospital.

We had a hard delivery and some unique circumstances (common… but unique), I’m not going to share particulars because it’s private, but what happened there made it extra hard when we got home, I’ll say that. We really needed extra help from somebody, but we didn’t have anyone. I’m not sure either of us slept for close to 6 months, always with one eye open.

People will say you have to work in shifts, one parent sleeps, one parent takes care of the baby… the reality is that just sounds nice.

Shifts didn’t work for us, when the baby cried, we both always woke up and both had to go help. And while I wish I could have stayed up all night every night handling all the night shifts, it’s just not possible to do when you have to be up during the day too. We really only slept when the baby went to sleep and that would be interrupted by breast pumping and sometimes, we’d want to use that time too to catch up on chores or capture just a few desperate minutes of free time.

  • Sometimes the baby will scream so loud in your ear you’ll imagine that’s what it must be like to be nearby when an IED goes off. It’ll be 4:00AM.
  • You’ll have just gotten ready to go out and the baby will throw up all over your wife
  • The baby will get some kind of rash, that again keeps them from a restful night of sleep
  • The trash bag will make a little bit too much noise and you’ll wake up your wife and baby trying to get some chores out of the way (AITA if…yes)
  • A fresh diaper will be soiled just moments after changing

We were stressed out and physically drained, there were communication issues and arguments.

But we worked through it

This went on for months and is still going on, it’s different now than it was in year 1 but a lot of the same things come up still. The point I’m trying to make here is that the situation is hard from day one back at the house.

Here we are still together and making it work, nearly 2 years later.

Both of us wanted to have a baby, and we knew it’d be hard. Maybe we didn’t know the specifics but we knew it’s tough and I had already seen how my other dad friends agedI think you put on like 5 years in the first 2 years after having a baby.

Ultimately me and my wife want the same thing, we want to be happy and we want our baby to be happy, healthy and successful. We want to build a family and do it right, and we’ll push through any kind of hardship to make that happen.

It’s all in the mindset. I don’t really believe the old saying “you can do anything you put your mind to”, some people aren’t going to be able to develop natural language processing and machine learning tool like ChatGPT or perform a 400lb overhead press no matter how hard they work towards it.

But if what you’re talking about is being a dad, raising a baby, then yes, I believe anybody who really puts their mind to being a great parent can do it.

We get just a little bit better day-by-day and if you’re trying your best then you’re parenting, don’t let anybody say anything different.

Being a dad is awesome

The definition of the word “dad” in the Websters dictionary is: “a male parent”

Short and sweet, but that’s what is great about being a dad. Literally just the fact that you have created a new little life, a little guy with some of your genetics. My son has definitely been the best part of being dad, just looking at him is rewarding. When he does anything it’s a victory, even regular things like eating or making noises.

Sometimes he’ll take a big step and do something really cool like throw a ball, or line up his toy Hot Wheels. For me, there’s no better satisfaction in this world than seeing him in action. Personality traits from me and his mother manifest themselves. It’s clear he’s our child from the way he looks and made even more clear by the way he acts.

There’s lots of tough things about being a dad – there’s no doubt about it. But it’s what I wanted, and I can say I’m glad we did it. Starting a family was a significant milestone in my life, and my wife and I have embraced the challenge of parenthood.

We’re going to be the resilient, nurturing parents that our little Davis needs to thrive.

I’m building MegaDadBlog.com to support other dads with what I learn along the way, I’ll be active on Pinterest and be running giveaways for folks who subscribe to our email list. Give me a shout!

Posted by Alex Casey in Fatherhood, 0 comments
Things To Do With Babies – Dad and Baby Bonding

Things To Do With Babies – Dad and Baby Bonding

A big part of being a dad is figuring out the best ways to spend quality time with family, everybody will like to do different things and you’ll have to strike a balance. Starting out it can be tough to decide what to do and where to go, you’ll explore the local attractions and sometimes there just won’t be a good fit with the baby in tow. Here are my suggestions, some of these are low hassle and all of these are nearly free, they’re all things you can jump right in to:

Spend time outside and relax, the simplest moments can be the most meaningful. Pull up a lawn chair outside with your baby and let them enjoy the sights and sounds around them. This change of scenery can help calm and focus their attention. While you enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, your little one might want to explore and play. Treasure these short moments of togetherness—they are very valuable.

The big green, take your baby to a grassy field or a park with trees and shaded areas. Let them freely explore the wonders of nature. They can collect acorns, feel the texture of wood chips, or touch tree trunks. Watching their curiosity in action is an experience. Even if they can’t walk yet, a gentle stroll through the park can be great. Choose parks with lots of open space and avoid places that might be unsafe, like ponds or creeks. It’s also a good idea to go to less crowded parks, more rowdy people make it less baby friendly. Remember to pack your diaper bag with essential items, your baby’s favorite drink, and some snacks for convenience.

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Take a hike, you can still be an active dad when you have a baby. Get a backpack harness or a carrier to bring your little one with you on local trails or nearby parks. This lets you exercise while exposing your baby to the wonders of the outdoors. Spending time outside helps boost their immune system and gives them some Vitamin D. Before going too far, make sure the harness is comfortable for your baby by taking a trial walk around your neighborhood. Safety should always come first during your adventures. Take a look at these baby backpacks on Amazon and find one that will fit for your baby.

Make the most of playtime indoors, create a baby zone where your baby can freely play and learn. Watch as they puzzle with their toys and develop new skills. Encourage them to try new things. Playing is not only fun for babies, but it also helps their thinking and physical growth. Seeing their excitement and independence is amazing, and it’s a great opportunity for dads to bond. So, join them in playtime and cherish these precious moments. It’s important to set up a safe baby zone in your house because otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy playtime, you’ll be chasing them around the entire time intervening every 30 seconds for their safety.

Have fun on a bike ride If you enjoy cycling, consider taking your baby along for a bike ride. Use a baby seat attachment or a trailer suitable for their age. There are many options available, so prioritize safety and choose something that keeps your baby secure during the ride. Take a look at a few of them here and see what might work. Biking combines outdoor exploration, exercise, and adventure, making it a unique experience for both you and your little one. Take regular breaks to check on your baby’s well-being and bring a backpack with essential items. Before you know it, they’ll be riding alongside you, making this opportunity even more special.

There are many inexpensive ways to enjoy time with your babies. You don’t need fancy outings or expensive toys to create special moments. Simple activities like going for a walk in the park, having a picnic at home, or playing with everyday objects can be amazing. It’s about the bond you’re sharing, not how much money you spend.

Posted by Alex Casey in Fatherhood, 0 comments
Tips for New Dads: 10 Crucial Tips for Expecting Fathers

Tips for New Dads: 10 Crucial Tips for Expecting Fathers

Attention all new and soon-to-be dads! Welcome to the world of fatherhood. It’s an incredible journey filled with ups and downs. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve gathered some crucial tips to make this experience a little smoother. Here are a few things that, looking back, would have been really good to know from the get-go:

Top-10-Fathers-Day-Gifts-2023

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  1. Be prepared for sleepless nights. Newborn babies wake up every two hours like clockwork, demanding to be fed. So, say goodbye to those solid blocks of sleep and get ready to embrace the long hours of being awake, you are nocturnal now. This is called “on demand feeding” – they dictate the schedule (look at them, they are the captain now). At times, they’ll spiral into a different feeding pattern too where they want it every hour, that’s called “cluster feeding” and it’ll happen at hours unfit for human beings. I knew babies made sleeping tough but I didn’t know that it was a 2 hour cycle or how often they fed, now you know!
  2. Don’t be taken aback when you see your baby’s poop during those first 24 hours. It may look like black tar, but don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. It’s just their system adjusting to life outside the womb. Your mission, which you will accept, will be to keep that rear-end dry. You will be changing the diapies every hour on the hour (every 1-2 hours). Get ready for unforgettable experiences.
  3. Get yourself a diaper bag with plenty of compartments and easy access. Believe me, when you’re in the midst of a diaper emergency, you’ll thank me for this tip. Look for a bag that lets you grab what you need in a flash, without fumbling around and causing chaos. Here’s one that has dedicated compartments for the different things you’ll be lugging around.

  4. Pack that thing like a pro, my friend. Fill it up with wipes, formula or breast milk (depending on your baby’s feeding needs), diapers (lots of them), a bottle of water for mixing, a change of clothes for unexpected messes, some handy hand towels, and of course, a few pacifiers to calm the little guy (always have extras). Having all these supplies at your fingertips will make life outside of the house feasible.

    One thing I recommend picking up if you’ll be using formula is this multi-compartment dispenser/container, it’ll help keep your formula powder from getting everywhere and reduce the number of containers you’ll need to carry in your diaper bag.

  5. Let me drop a little secret on you: Your insurance company might cover the cost of a breast pump. Yup, that’s right! So, don’t hesitate to give them a call and find out your options. Having a portable breast pump for your wife can be a game-changer, especially when she needs to pump on the go. Our insurance fully covered the cost of an electric Spectra brand breast pump, we got the version with a wall cord but I recommend you go for the portable version here, on the next go around that’s what we’ll do. Trust me, you’ll want to ensure your wife has easy access to milk whenever the baby needs it.

  6. Milk management, that’s about to be your new number one priority. Newborn babies survive on milk alone, whether it’s breast milk or formula. So, whether you choose one or go for a hybrid approach, make sure you keep that milk supply ready at all times. Your little one will need to be fed every two to three hours, and trust me, they won’t hesitate to let you know when it’s mealtime.

    One thing I recommend you pick up would be a bottle warmer. You’ll be preserving breast milk in the fridge and that’s great, but your baby is going to want it warm. When the baby is screaming in your wives ear you don’t want to be in the kitchen struggling to McGyver warm milk from a cold bottle. Here’s the bottle warmer that worked for us:

  7. Here’s the truth about breastfeeding—it’s not always a walk in the park. Both babies and mothers can face challenges getting started. And if there’s too much time between feedings, milk production can even slow down. That’s where a breast pump comes in. Your wife may need to use it to keep the milk flowing, and that means she’ll have to stop what she’s doing and pump every two hours. It can be inconvenient, but remember, your support is crucial here. Keep those pump bottles, funnels, and cables squeaky clean and ready to go for each pumping session. Stock up on extra parts so there are always a few clean ones at the ready.

    If you go for the Spectra pump you can order some extra parts here, a little extra prep here will pay off.

  8. Now, let’s talk about “tummy time.” You’ll want to incorporate this into your baby’s routine early on. It’s when you turn your little one over onto their stomach to help with their motor function development. Here’s the catch—most babies don’t exactly enjoy this special time. But hey, it’s good for them, and it paves the way for successful crawling in the future. So, prepare yourself mentally to watch them struggle but keep in mind that it’s all for their growth and development.

    Baby-tummy-time
    Baby Davis was not a fan.
  9. Picture this: a reliable baby monitor that keeps an eye on your little munchkin all night long. Sounds amazing, right? Well, let me tell you about the Infant Optics monitor. It’s a gem. I highly recommend putting it on your registry. This trusty device has been our rock for almost two years now. We never turn it off, and guess what? We’ve had zero problems with the video feed. I have no qualms plugging this baby monitor, it’s amazing – in fact, I’ve thought about setting these up all over my house for live video surveillance.
  10. Transition to the crib. Here’s what worked for me and my wife. From day one, we kept some sleep separation. Our baby slept in a bassinet right next to our bed, but not in the bed or too close to it. We also draped a muslin blanket over the top of the bassinet, allowing a bit of privacy even though we were just a few steps away.

    After about a month, we made the move to our baby’s own nursery room and crib. Now, remember, the timing of this transition will vary based on your situation, tolerance levels, and your baby’s needs. But for us, it was a game-changer. Just a couple of nights in the crib, and our baby was as comfortable as ever, sleeping just as well as they did in the bassinet. Plus, having the baby in their own room gave us some much-needed personal time for basic hygiene, food, and rest. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Take these tips with you on your fatherhood adventure. Embrace the sleepless nights, expect the unexpected, and savor every moment with your little bundle of joy. Remember, every baby is different, so adjust these tips to fit your family’s needs. And above all, treasure this special time—it flies by in the blink of an eye!

Posted by Alex Casey in Fatherhood, 0 comments