By Matt Paolelli
As we are currently in the second trimester of our second pregnancy, I’ve found myself increasingly surrounded by other pregnant family members, friends and colleagues. From the first-time fathers, I usually get an immediate request for pregnancy tips and advice on their newfound vocation as a dad. Since I am now considered an expert, I thought I would jot down some of the things I learned. As you read this, it’s important to remember the greatest secret of parenting that you will discover as soon as your child is born: We’re all just making this up as we go along.
- Don’t read a book.
Pregnancy manuals and parenting textbooks are a major industry these days. Don’t fall into that trap. I know this is all new to you, but those resources will only give you the best practices and experiences of their authors. Your baby is going to be completely unique, and no book has been written that can predict what you’re about to experience. Once you’ve met your baby and you start to have specific questions, these resources will become a little more relatable and your research will have more of a purpose. For now, spend your time on more practical preparations and enjoy the final months before you’re permanently a party of three. If you really want to do some research, peruse the thousands (millions?) of personal Mum and Dad blogs (like this one) to get a sense of what lies in store for you. Unlike a book, you’ll get a variety of perspectives and experiences. Just remember that yours might not be anything like what you’re reading.
- Take a babymoon or other couple getaway.
Once your bundle of joy arrives, it’s going to be all about the baby. Your every waking moment (and plenty of waking moments that were previously sleeping moments) will be spent in service to your new helpless infant. This is your last chance to take one more trip as a couple or to do the things that are much less practical with a baby – and while you still don’t have to find a babysitter. Go to the movies. Go out to dinner. Treat yourselves to a last-minute vacation. It will be quality time with your spouse that you can sock away in your memory and rely on for strength when you’re sleep-deprived and rocking a baby at 2 am in a few months.
As you read this, it’s important to remember the greatest secret of parenting that you will discover as soon as your child is born: We’re all just making this up as we go along.
- Make a plan at work.
Depending on your work’s leave policy for fathers (hopefully they have one!), you may be away from work for an extended period of time. Do your coworkers a favor and start prepping for this now. Putting in some extra time in the office during the pregnancy is a great way to build goodwill among the employees you will be ghosting when the baby arrives. When the joyous event occurs, you won’t want to stop staring at your newborn to answer a work-related email, so make it as easy as possible for your coworkers to leave you alone by having a plan ready to go.
- Get the right stuff.
It goes without saying that the first few weeks after a baby’s birth can be stressful. You’re entering a new stage of life and learning all the rules. Your baby is entering a whole new world and doesn’t even know that there are any rules. The best way to make this transition as smooth as possible is to make sure that your baby’s new habitat is ready and adaptable to whatever scenario your new little one might bring. This is where research is important. Talk to your parent friends about what worked for them. Get crowd-sourced recommendations from your social networks. If there are baby showers in your future, make sure that you register for things you will actually use. Every baby is unique, but some baby items are universal and essential. Experienced parents can help guide you toward the best brands of those things or at least explain your options. You want to walk into Babies R Us with a plan, instead of simply saying “I’ll take one of each.” That said, keep your receipts so you can take back the stuff that ends up not meeting baby’s needs.
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