NOTE: This is just one man’s/father’s opinion. I am not the oracle of parenting knowledge. It is my hope that all of you other parents, expecting parents, or the genuinely curious might find this enlightening, humorous, and down right authentic.
It is hard to believe that I am a father of a one year old son already.
It just seems like yesterday when Kristen told me that she was pregnant with our child. The look on her face was priceless. She was so enthralled and enraptured with the news and I was in shock and bewilderment. Yes, we were “trying” and yes, this was the outcome I wanted; but when it actually happens… when you feel like your whole world is shifting right before your eyes… it does something to you… right down to your core.
So for me, after the shock and bewilderment subsided; we quickly revved it up into high gear and we began to do all the things first-time parents do: set up a registry (do this!), tell everyone you possibly know (one because you are excited and two, because you want as many people as possible to pay for baby supplies, clothes, etc. from said registry), get the nursery room ready, take a parenting class (we didn’t and have no regrets), read a parenting book (we didn’t and have no regrets), go to all of the pre-natal appointments (I went to only two… I was working!), and financially panic as you realize that insurance covers a lot but not enough (you still are going to need to spend your life savings and/or donate a ton of blood/plasma and/or do some side gig stuff and/or beg your family to come up with the money needed to pay for the medical bills).
Ok, so now it’s time for the baby to come (yes, I know I skipped the nine-ish months where the woman is in such intolerable, excruciating pain that she wants it all to end) but I figured “mansplaining” pregnancy to women was not a good look for me.
Well now the moment has arrived, and your wife yells at the top of her lungs that “her water broke”. You immediately panic and hopefully long before this moment you packed her “go bag” with all of her necessities, the car is well-maintained, car seat in place, and gas tank full; and you got the fastest route down to get to the hospital. (Ok, so it might not go this smoothly… but it better if you want your wife to still love you!)
So you hopefully get to the hospital before the baby comes and now you got to get to the front entrance, grab a wheelchair after you tell the front desk receptionist that your wife is in labor, help your wife out of the car as she continues to be in pain, get the transportation tech to get her to labor and delivery, you do all of the paperwork, and then eventually you meet with your wife. Also, don’t forget to call your family and if you feel so led… tweet, facebook, insta the entire saga (I didn’t and I am SO GLAD… I was already stressed as it was).
And now you wait.
Wait some more.
(now this can go on and on depending on the individual’s labor history… my wife was in labor for 14 hours, others I’ve heard can go on for days!)
And while your wife is pretty preoccupied with a human that will make its entrance into the world and exit from… well… her; you are helpless to do anything. But you dare not be on your phone, watch tv, or anything of the sort to pass the time. Your wife will look at you with those “kill eyes” you told yourself you didn’t want to ever see (you know, the same eyes you see in murder re-enactments on Lifetime and Oxygen). So you just sit by her side, hold her clammy hand, and tell you (wait… DON’T say anything)… scratch that… You just sit there.
Ok so after seeing things you don’t ever want to see again (that is, a human coming out of another human), your child has now arrived. And I swear to you, those few moments after the nurse (or the doctor in her few moments of stealing the glory from said nurses) hands your wife your child, you are just in awe. Time has stood still. Life is not the same. Everything has changed.
But you are enraptured in love. This love feels like no other love. It’s just pure, unadulterated, beautiful, whimsical love.
So after those precious, fleeting moments as you all proceed to leave the L&D (labor and delivery) room and go to the recovery room; you will get some of the only sleep you will get for A LONG DAMN TIME.
Now the next two (YES, TWO!) days (because insurance sucks), you will have to learn how to be “expert parents” before the hospital feels comfortable letting your human being out with you into this crazy world. The nurses will come in and out of the room every freaking hour and you have to tell them “Things are ok, please let us sleep and rest… PLEASE!” There will be a slew of guests (not including friends and family) like lactation consultants, doctors, nurses, custodial engineers, cafeteria engineers, and other medical staff that will make your room feeling like a revolving door of the lobby of a hotel.
In your exhaustion and state of being overwhelmed with learning how to do things before you go home, you are still in such awe and wonder at the glance of your newborn baby. The innocence, the preciousness, the sacredness. It’s truly breathtaking.
So it’s time to go home. You are in this state of confusion: “How can the hospital let us go home with this life in our hands?” “We have so much more to learn!” “What if something goes wrong?”
You learn to wrestle with these questions as you journey home, which will be the slowest most careful you have ever driven in your entire life. PLEASE take the SLOW lane at this time.
The first few months for Kristen and I at night was just a game of “tag, you’re it” when it came to our son. “It’s your turn, no it’s your turn, and so on and so forth.” Kristen is an angel and took most of the brunt of this since I was working and she was staying at home, but I tried to still do my part (she needs sleep and rest too). You see your child grow up so slowly but then you blink and it is so quickly. Time flies as much as it stands still. So soak up every moment. Take a million pictures. Take video if you can. But most of all just be present, be patient, and be gentle with your spouse and your child too.
It was amazing to see my son go through milestone after milestone, check up after check up, and just see a human grow and take on personality and become more independent daily. Seeing my son go from breast milk and formula, to baby food, to solid food was crazy. Now to see him lay there, to crawling and now walking was crazy. To see him not react much to outside stimuli, to now mimicking and reacting to music, shows, toys, etc. was crazy.
As much as everything is crazy, everything is beautiful.
That to me is what it was like as a parent my first year.
NOTE: For me, I utilized my faith and spirituality greatly. Trusting and relying on God’s wisdom and goodness throughout this entire journey is what has helped me be the husband and father I am today. I’m certainly not perfect. But I feel like my faith has given me a foundation from which to love and give my family everything they need.
So, what do you remember from raising your child/ren your first year? What are some of your favorite memories? Your most memorable struggles? Comment below!