Mega Dad Blog - 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 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

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