I’ll write this post just because, at the time when my wife was pregnant, we heard so many comments about what we should or shouldn’t do and it was extremely annoying. Also, I live away from my parents, brother and sisters, so my in-laws were telling my wife ALL the TIME what she should do.
And it was so frustrating to try to make my opinion (the future dad) count more than everyone else’s.
In a way, this is how I get rid of frustration that I had at the time-and sometimes still have. Enjoy.
1. Sleep all you can before the baby gets here.
Suuuuuure. As if sleeping-in advance- would help us get through all of those sleepless nights changing diapers, feeding and putting the baby back to sleep. This advice was completely useless. I would have rather been told to tag-sleep. My wife sleeps a couple of hours and if the baby awakes, I take care of him. Then we switch. The next time that he wanted his baby bottle my wife tends to him while I get a couple of hours of shut-eye. This would have been a heck of a lot more helpful. To this day we have gotten used to getting up once or twice in the middle of the night, but those first weeks were really tough. They could have saved us some of that with more accurate advice. But whatever.
2. How to deliver it. From the beginning I told my wife that I would support her in whatever decision she made in delivering the baby. Whether it was going to be a natural birth or a C-section. Early on, she decided on a C-section (of course, considering that the baby didn’t arrive earlier than expected). Whatever her reasons for this, I did not question. I wanted her to feel as comfortable as could be and to experience the least possible stress-and pain of course. But how about a bunch of her aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors and so on. Everybody had an opinion. I got tired of listening to women-who had never had children- tell my wife that the natural birth was the best way to deliver a child into this world. And the worst thing was that-since there were so many of them suggesting something different than what she thought- my wife actually felt bad for what she believed best for her. It was very difficult to convince her that whatever SHE wanted would be done and to avoid listening to those comments. That took some work, but eventually she did have him by C-section and everything went well, thank God.
3. When a baby comes, the relationship between the parents changes. Bolony. While I will admit that I have had a hard time “sharing” my boy with my in-laws, the relationship between my wife and I has never been stronger. We are laughing all the time. Everything our boy does is new and is a great experience for both of us. From farting to belching to sitting up straight, everything is new and is exciting for us-not to mention hilarious. We enjoy every minute we can get with him. I guess that, besides from being life-partners and lovers, we also make a great team. We are like best friends and I think that has a lot to do with it. Whether it’s house chores, work, vacations or baby care, we always get organized and set our priorities. So, no, our relationship didn’t change because of the baby. We only sleep less and spend more on diapers and stuff we didn’t know that existed. Oh and we have toys and baby stuff lying around every corner of the house.
4. Only the mother’s opinion counts. Nobody actually said this to me. But everyone made pretty damn sure that that was the message I should be getting. “Oh look! Here comes-wife’s name-and the baby” Yeah, her and the baby. And how the yak did they get there? Certainly not by bus. And we certainly don’t have a driver. “Hey, I saw some green pants for your baby. Do you like green pants, future to be-mom?” “Would you like these sheets for the crib-future to be mom?” “Should I buy white or blue sneakers
for your son-future to be-mom?
How about a little consideration for the man of the house? I guess I turned into the invisible man, but just didn’t know it.
When our doctor told us it was a boy, everyone-again- had their opinion. “Hey maybe he will be a soccer player like his uncle” or “Maybe he will like to go swimming like his grandpa”( my wife’s father) . Or “no, he will definitely have blond hair like his aunt”.
What the F…? What about me? What about his dad? The guy who-with his mother- is going to raise him? How about saying he’s going to be smart like his DAD?! (ok that’s a bit vain) Or “He’ll have dark hair like his dad? Anybody? Is this thing on?
But I have to admit, since,in my country, the father’s only role is mostly as a provider, they don’t consider us much. I found out about this by watching and analyzing my father and my wife’s father. Well, I am making pretty sure that they don’t hold on to this idea for too long. I have had to be very assertive and show that I DO get involved. I don’t just provide stuff. I change diapers, I make baby bottles, I shower my kid, I have gotten thrown up by him, he has farted in my hand, he has peed in my lap, vomited on my shirt, I change his clothes, hell yeah! I’m a parent, too. He’s my kid, too, damn it!
And besides, who took my wife to the doctor every single month when she was pregnant? I did. Who does my wife rely on for any problem? ME. Who was right there with her everyday watching her belly get bigger and help her in and out of bed when she couldn’t get up easily?
Who put on her shoes when she couldn’t see her feet anymore? That’s right, me.
And who pays for my boys’ medicine when he gets sick? Who pays the pediatrician? Again, me. So, yes, the mom counts. Of course she does. Without mom, there’s no baby. But dads count too. Maybe not as much as the mom. But dad’s count too, nonetheless. Don’t forget that.
5. The mother should quit work to raise the child. Day-care cannot replace good parents, indeed. But in the world we are living in right now, or at least in this country, having only one working parent is a luxury that most people can’t afford. Both parents need to work if they are to have a modest way of life. Pediatricians suggest avoiding day care altogether but sometimes there’s no choice.
Before my son was born, this is what I thought, too. But you soon learn that daycare helps kids develop. They help them be more social and interact with other kids their age. Imagine a boy or girl that never gets to interact with children his age until he goes to kindergarten. It would definitely be harder for him. So, no, daycare is no replacement for parents, but it does help out a lot.
We always try to pick him up by the afternoon. Our jobs allow us to pick him up a little aerlier so that we can spend time with him at home. If we only spent a couple of hours with him at night, before he went to bed, then I would worry about daycare being our son’s parent. But it isn’t like that. So, I say, if you can have him in daycare to help you tend to your work routine, and provide him/her of his/her bare necessities and a little more, I say go for it.
I don’t recommend getting him or her accustomed to getting taken care of by grandma or grandpa. Grandparents tend to spoil their grandchildren. And they aren’t as quick to catch him if he were to trip or fall from the bed. They already raised their children so they figure that if the kid trips and falls, he’ll get back up and bumps and bruises heal quickly enough anyway. Plus they sleep a lot on their free time. I know a couple that leave their three-year-old son with either grandma everyday and sometimes, when they go pick him up, grandma doesn’t want to let his parents take their child. Why? Because they have left their child with grandma since he was months old, so now, the grandparents have been semi-raising the child, so they feel they have certain “rights” over him.
But anyway. Those are just things to think about.
Bottom line, if you have questions, ask a professional. Your relatives, friends, acquantances or neighbors might mean well, but they are not trained to give you advice about that. Your Obstetrician or Pediatrician will have the best, more common sense-answer to those questions that arise months before-and after-you have your newborn with you. And as far as those annoying people who think they know it all, simply listen to them, shut up and smile. Worked for me. =)