Author Topic: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?  (Read 7359 times)

Whiskers

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I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« on: March 04, 2014, 09:03:00 PM »
I just found out that I'm going to be a father! My wife and I are 29 and 30 years old respectively and have been married for almost 18 months. The pregnancy was a bit of a surprise, but we are excited. Kind of a wide open question, but I wanted to ask if anyone could offer some advice for an expecting first-time dad? -- financial or otherwise. My wife and I own a modest home. We both make decent money with full-time jobs and have been trying to sock away as much as we can in savings. Aside from our mortgage, the only debt we have is my $48,000 in student loans (made over $40k in progress in the last 3 years)... Thanks for reading!

Cwadda

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2014, 09:06:25 PM »
Congratulations! Are you going to find out what it's going to be beforehand?

Whiskers

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2014, 09:11:40 PM »
Congratulations! Are you going to find out what it's going to be beforehand?

Thanks! I think we probably will find out the gender in advance - why not? I think we will be curious to know once we have the option

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2014, 09:18:01 PM »
Awww, congrats! Here's a tip on preparation: Don't think you have to buy everything in advance. There will still be baby stores after baby arrives. You need a bassinet (I got one from Freecycle), diapers (I think a lot of us like cloth--I actually did a blog post a few weeks back about not buying too many cloth diapering supplies--and you can register for those), a car seat, and some seasonal outfits, which you will probably get as presents anyway. Anything else you can get afterwards if you need it!

Another tip is to WAIT before you buy something. I can't tell you how many baby items I bought to solve minor problems that lasted like a week. (That's not really just about buying stuff--try to remember that babies change so fast that problems with sleep, eating, whatever usually just go away on their own without you having to knock yourself out "solving" it.

Good luck!

homehandymum

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2014, 09:25:37 PM »
Congratulations!!!

I'm sure you'll get heaps of money-type advice from others here, but here's my one piece of advice that I hand out to all new parents:

There is no one right way to parent, no matter what the books and experts say.  Every child and every parent is different, just go with what works for you, and don't be afraid to throw the expert books out the window* and try something else.  Just be kind to your baby, yourselves and each other.  The rest will sort itself out.

Oh, and remember that your partner is a new parent too, so also will feel lost and in need of support :)

*Or sell them on craigslist :)

mxt0133

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2014, 09:35:08 PM »
Congratulations!  I just want to reiterate other peoples advice on not going crazy on thinking you need every baby gadget you see.  The baby industrial complex is almost as bad the military industrial complex, they really play on your emotions.  As a new parent its natural that you want to protect and do that best you can for your newborn and they really know how to use that push their products.  We fell into that trap with our first baby, my wife had THREE baby showers so it wasn't just us but the whole family.  We returned/sold so much stuff that we didn't need for our first child.  When we had our second I kind of feel bad for the little guy because he has a lot of hand me downs, but I know that he is not deprived in anyway because we focus on his real needs, attention and love, instead of all the material stuff companies say he should have.

Freedom2016

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2014, 09:41:58 PM »
Congratulations!!!

+1 to the comment above that you don't need to buy everything up front. Newborns need very little, and friends/family may well be eager to offer you their child stockpiles. On hand-me-downs just watch out on safety related items - cribs, car seats, high chairs, etc. to be sure things aren't out of "code" and/or haven't been recalled.

My advice: trust your gut (similar point to a poster above). As a new parent I felt like I had NO instincts about what to do, and thus constantly deferred to the "experts." One of which was a lactation consultant who insisted bottles were evil and that my son would never learn to nurse well if we used artificial nipples. <insert eyeroll, in retrospect> He had trouble latching, so we were syringe feeding him (a total PITA) until the day that the damn syringe stuck and I squirted breast milk all over the ceiling. That was the day that my own instincts kicked in, specifically to say "this is bullshit" and we gave him a bottle. He went on to nurse for almost a year, by the way.


Stache In Training

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2014, 09:56:54 PM »
Hey, me too!  Congrats!

From what I've heard the most often, is to just spend time with them.  You may think that's it's "boring" or not exciting time, but as long as it's time, that's all the kid craves.  The other piece of advice I've been getting is, "Don't worry, you're doing it right.  Unless the kid's dead or dying, there's no right or wrong way.  Just enjoy yourself."

That seems to be the most sensible approaches I've been hearing.

Greg

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2014, 10:02:44 PM »
Congratulations. 

My advice about finding out if it's a "girl" or "boy" beforehand is don't.  Leave some surprises in your life.  It doesn't matter anyway until it's about 5 years old.

Advice?  relax, lower your standard about sleep, cleanliness, tidiness, schedules etc.  But set a nap/sleep schedule and stick to it.  Kids need routine and sleep. 

Breastfeed if your sweetie can.  It's the best.  Cloth diapers are good but it's a lot of wash.  All of the baby-proofing is a waste of time and stuff, just be there and watch your kid.  Use a sling not a stroller.

Catch some sleep when you can and don't forget to be sweeties to each other even though you're tired.  Massages are nice.

DaKini

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2014, 04:15:58 AM »
Just my 2 cents (having two kids age nearly-4 and 5 months).

Probably the most important:
Watch your sleep especially the first months where the sleeping cycle is not yet fully developed. This is easy told but hard done, because there is ALWAYS stuff that needs to be done. Sleep is sacrified very easily. But dont do this. Also, watch the sleep ammount of your partner closely. Depriviation of sleep was our most problem generator and many problems were a result of too less sleep in retrospect (you are usually not aware of that at the time you face the problems).

Besides that, it was already told, spend time with your children. They learn nearly everything from example (and not from lectures, keep that in mind always!)
Read aloud books with them, they will love it and it will lay foundation so they will like reading their entire life (which ensures a prosperous life).

Then, be a good example, lead by example but do not overstress this - you are too a failable human like everyone else. Be yourself and threat your kid with respect and like you would be treaten yourself, they are living human persons.
Oh lead by example.... This is actually a hard thing. I had good effects by telling my older son how to fix things if he messes something up (like kindly giving him a cloth to wipe water that he spilled, possibly helping him if he has difficultys). Nowadays he fixes things without prompting and has an own will to "make things right".
Oh, and be consistent. Stick to your decicions if they make sense but be prepared to revise them if they are nonsense.

A good hint is also, dont compare your children with other children. They have a unique path to grow up in nearly every aspect. The deviation "rom the mean" is often very large. Don't be afraid if your child shows such deviations as no child will be "the mean". We are growing humans, not machines with specifications.

Neustache

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2014, 05:06:38 AM »
If you care about this sort of thing (I did, but now I don't) get gender neutral everything.  Or just don't buy all the extra crap.  But if you do buy stuff (pack n play, sheets for crib, etc.) make it a color/print that you'd be happy with if you decide to have a second baby.

I bought/registered for mostly gender neutral items, and it worked well as my second was a boy after a girl.  But really, you don't need 75% of the stuff they tell you to get, as long as you have a good baby wrap or sling to wear the baby.

If I have another baby, we have already gotten rid of our crib, so next baby gets a full sized mattress on the floor (careful to make sure there's no way to get precious heads stuck in between the mattress and walls or furniture).  Mattress on floor means I can lay down to nurse and co sleep if I want, and then sneak off to bed when I want to get up. 

Babies are great.  Seriously, just don't stress out about stuff and sleep when you can. 




GuitarStv

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2014, 06:08:38 AM »
As a new father of a nearly 3 month old, I can say without reservation that babies are terrible.  Probably the most challenging thing I've ever had to do in my life was to avoid killing our son during the first few weeks.  It's a wonder that the human race has continued this far quite frankly.

Combo of colicky baby + very big baby and very small mother + very very very difficult labour (mom couldn't walk or even sit up for more than a week due to tearing . . . and don't get me started on blood loss.  Looked like that scene from Carrie in the delivery room.  I actually think a C-section would have been easier on her.) + difficulty breast feeding  . . . . well, let's just say that the people who tell you that babies are great, and you'll have nothing to worry about are full of shit.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that we had him and am starting to adjust to his presence . . . but it was a very difficult adjustment with a lot of stuff coming at me at once.  Anything you can do now to try and make the first few months easier (cooking/freezing tons of meals, planning to have experienced family members stay over to help, making sure that nothing around the house needs fixing, etc. etc.) should be done.  You don't really need much stuff for the baby beyond diapers of some kind and a spot for the baby to sleep.

I really wish that the stuff I had read had been a little less positive and a little more realistic as far as preparing me for what having a newborn around the house entailed.  It's kinda a battlezone triage situation from the moment you bring your kid home.

Good luck.

Neustache

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2014, 06:27:38 AM »
Hahaha, you are right, I'm full of shit!!  I broke my rule about laying it out there about how terrible it can be.

Sorry, my last baby was an amazing experience.  My first baby experience was terrible.  I had the baby blues big time, a new mother, recovering from c-section, and I had been on bedrest for the 11 weeks prior so I had zero energy anyways.

Some experiences are great.  Some are rubbish.  The good news is, after about 6 weeks or so the rubbish experience was much better.  Thanks for reminding me about how hard the first weeks can be, I had a bit of baby amensia.  LOL. 

GuitarStv

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2014, 06:30:42 AM »
That 'baby amnesia' thing seems to affect so many people that I'm beginning to think suppressed memories are a standard part of parenting.

Gin1984

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2014, 06:42:47 AM »
Find a consignment store and make friends.  They can help you find things cheaper when you don't have the time or energy to look through craigslist.  Check freecycle for baby clothes and baby supplies.

MrsPete

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2014, 06:45:52 AM »
First child -- we didn't know the gender ahead of time, and it was really exciting to learn that she was a girl in the delivery room.  And my husband loved going into the waiting room with the news for the grandparents.  It's a bit more exciting than just saying, "Well, you knew she was coming, and now she's here."  Don't worry about the "but how will you know what to buy?" idea -- you have decades to buy pink or blue, dolls or footballs.  And if you plan to have another child later, you're probably going to buy gender-neutral (where possible) anyway. 

Second child -- my husband desperately wanted a boy, and we knew this would be our last child, so we found out.  Another girl.  I was happy, but he was . . . not disappointed, but not thrilled immediately.  I'm glad we found out ahead of time.  I could take him being a little bummed on a day when I was feeling good physically, could still fit into my regular clothes and so forth.  I would not have been able to manage anything short of absolutely thrilled mode on the day I gave birth.  And by the time she was born, he had reconciled himself to not having his boy, and he was genuinely thrilled. 

If I had it to do again, I'd do it the same way both times. 

As for buying things, when in question, ask yourself whether they had this item in the 50s or 60s.  If the answer is no, ask yourself whether it's genuinely an improvement.  Some things ARE really better:  For example, car seats.  Cars are smaller, more drivers are on the road, and it's the law -- yeah, you need that.  Disposable diapers are also a monumental improvement over cloth diapers, and if you shop carefully aren't all that expensive.  On the other hand, port-a-pens, baby monitors -- those things are new and pretty much worthless. 

For "the big stuff" -- the stuff you're going to use daily for several years, possibly for another child (or two) -- do not compromise on quality.  Do your research, spend the money, buy the best.  It'll make your child more comfortable and/or your life easier . . . on a regular basis.  I'd say this includes the crib, the high chair, the car seat and the stroller. 

On the other hand, recognize that you should skimp on things that are temporary in nature:  Clothes are the big one.  Kids outgrow them so fast! 

If people want to buy you things -- and they will, ask for books (what does a child need more?  not much), clothes in larger sizes, onesies and footie sleepers (not much problem with seasons, and most people gravitate towards the pretty dresses rather than the plain, functional sleepers), gift certificates for photography studios. 

Breastfeeding is one of the most perfect things in the world.  I'd have done it for the savings.  I'd have done it for the health benefits (which literally last a lifetime).  I'd have done it for the convenience (what's easier than you bringing the baby to your wife in bed, and her falling asleep again while feeding the baby?).  That you have ALL THREE in one package is beyond perfect.  However, it isn't easy to start.  Mothers tend to think "it just happens".  If I hadn't had a little help from the nurses in the hospital, I might've given up.  I only needed one lesson, and then I understood the proper way to position the baby.  Way too many people give up in the first days -- but I think the problem is that you have to learn a new physical skill . . . after going through the trauma of birth.  Would you be angry with yourself if you couldn't learn to ride a bike right after having surgery?  Of course not!  So recognize that breastfeeding comes with a learning curve.  You can help and encourage your wife in two ways:  1) Buy her a breastfeeding pillow.  This really is not junk. She'll spend hours a day holding and feeding the baby, and this pillow is shaped just right to make it easy -- it really saves a nursing mom's back, and the shape is better than a regular bed pillow.  I didn't have one with my first child, and what a difference it made with my second!  2) Every time she sits down to nurse, bring her a big glass of water, juice or some other drink with some nutrition.  She can't put out liquid if she isn't taking in liquid, and dehydration is a common reason people quit nursing. 
 
Accept that the first few weeks will be difficult, and prepare yourself ahead of time.  Have frozen meals ready to pop in the oven (I was STARVED after birth both times).  Have plenty of diapers in the baby's room so you won't need to leave the house, if you don't want to do so. 


Gin1984

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2014, 07:02:30 AM »
"Disposable diapers are also a monumental improvement over cloth diapers, and if you shop carefully aren't all that expensive.  On the other hand, port-a-pens, baby monitors -- those things are new and pretty much worthless.  "   I found cloth to be just as easy, but we have all in ones.  But I found our baby monitor to be useful those first few months because our daughter was a light sleeper and a very quiet crier.  She would wake up and get very upset if I did not come in right away.  She is a bit clingy.  She wants Dad or I, in the room often.  This was I could do things in the other side of the house and not worry about her. 
I think that is my most important advice, EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT and has different things that work for them.  Some like to be carried, some don't.  Some like the jumper, some don't.  So get the basics and then go try other things out with the little one when she or he gets here. 

Rural

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2014, 07:02:58 AM »
All this baby advice... Here's a little pregnancy advice. Be sure to tell your wife how excited you are, in words, regularly. As her body changes, be sure to tell her she's beautiful and how wonderful it is that you two have done this together. She's going to be undergoing major hormonal changes just as her body moves in the opposite direction from the way she's been brainwashed all her life to think women should look. Explicit support from you can really help with that -- say the words. Lots.

greenmimama

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2014, 08:49:11 AM »
Some great advice above, I would also say, plan to take a week off after the baby is born, I know they are tiny and they sleep a lot, but it is unbelievable how exhausting it is and some time to rest and relax and get in this groove is good for everyone involved.

MrsPete

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2014, 08:59:50 AM »
Find a consignment store and make friends.  They can help you find things cheaper when you don't have the time or energy to look through craigslist.  Check freecycle for baby clothes and baby supplies.
Don't follow in my footsteps when it comes to consignment stores:

I bought much, if not most, of my kids' things at consignment stores or yard sales (which aren't quite as big a thing as they used to be).  When my youngest was maybe two and we knew we wouldn't have any more, I was ready to ditch some baby stuff.  So I packed up A WHOLE CAR LOAD and took it to the store I had liked purchasing from most.  Long story short:  They took my things happily, and because I continued to shop there, I knew that they'd been sold . . . but they wouldn't pay.  They always had an excuse:  The owner's not here, we only pay on the last week of the month, the sun's too hot . . . but I'd been shopping there for years and I thought I knew the owner.  Turns out she's great to customers, not so great to sellers.

When I had another load of stuff to sell, I took a smaller load and went to a different store.  That place was 100% honest.  They gave me the option of being mailed a check OR having a bigger percentage in "store credit".  But they paid. 

My advice:  Definitely sell to consignment stores, but go wary 'til you've been paid at least once. 

RMD

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2014, 10:13:10 AM »
Babies don't need a lot of stuff.  Parents *think* babies need a lot of stuff.

Breastfeeding is hard.  Your wife will not be "herself" for as long as she is breastfeeding...meaning that she is a sole food source to another being.  I personally resented that lack of freedom.  I loved our moments of breastfeeding, but man, getting up to breastfeed and have to leave the room in the middle of a great family conversation at the ILs made me feel socially removed and it sucked.  Pumping at work blows, too...

Pumping...this is where I recommend spending the bucks.  Buy a decent (hospital grade) breast pump.  It is worth every cent.  (I have heard that ACA has made it so insurance companies now reimburse for breastpumps?  I don't know if this is true or not, but you might want to look into it.)

So much is individual to the child.  My nieces loved the swing.  My son HATED it with a passion.  If you have friends with children you might want to test drive some items even before buying second-hand.

Your life shifts.  My brain does not function like it did before I had DS.  I struggle.  I struggle a lot...I was an older mom and I do think that this played a role in how drastic the shift was for DH and me. 

Watch for signs of post-partum depression.  I did not suffer, but I have friends who did.  It is nothing to mess around with.

We made the choice to not share our sons name until he was born.  It was up to DH and me and we did not want outside "help".  I am amazed at how many people have opinions about naming style.

Actually...once you're pregnant people will have an opinion about every little thing you do.  Practice saying, "Thank you for your thoughts on the subject, we will consider them."  Followed often times by, "We are doing what we (sub in "the pediatrician" as needed) feel is best for our family."

Good luck to you...it's an exciting and special time! 

Everything in Moderation

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2014, 10:36:36 AM »
I am in a similar situation: 31 and about to give birth to my first.  My husband and I both work full time, and live in a major city.  We save, but we also enjoy life (we are not as extreme as most people here). 

Here are some tips:

1.  At the very least, research cloth diapers.  I never would have thought that I would be using them, but they are great and have come a long way from cloth diapers years ago.  http://www.bumgenius.com 

2. Use craigslist (clothes, baby swings, etc)

3. Sign up for consignment events (different from consignment stores).  I buy Ralph Lauren outfits for $1-$2.  If you volunteer at these events, you get to pre shop and that makes all the difference in finding high quality items. 

4. Don't buy new baby furniture.  I took old furniture, sanded it, painted it, and it looks beautiful.  Sew your own curtains for the baby room (of outsource it to your mom as I did). 

5. Don't feel bad if you return unneeded items from your baby shower.  I was give about $500 of baby items that I did not want to need and I returned them.  I felt bad, but then again, we needed to buy car seats and other must haves. 

6.  Breastfeed if you can.  Make your own baby food.  To each his own though. 

7.  You don't need a crib.  We will be using a baby bassinet that we are borrowing.  After 4 months, our daughter will sleep on a Montessori floor mattress, since we are doing the Montessori thing.  Look it up.  It is a different way of thinking (not having a crib), but a lot of 1st world countries do this floor mattress thing, and have lower SID rates and injuries.  If you look at childhood injuries, the majority are serious falls from a crib.   You will have to make sure the room is 100% safe. 

8.   Focus on having your freezer full of pre made meals.  We ended up eating out a lot.  Oh well. 

9. If and when you buy toys, buy quality, like wood toys.  The cheap plastic ones don't last, and are not as healthy.  Again, we buy used on craigslist.  I shop for xmas and birthdays year round on craigslist, it takes patience, but I have made it a game. 

10.  My insurance co. gives us $300 to put toward a breast pump.  Call your and see what you are covered for. 

11.  Sign up for Lucie's List.  Best registry advice around.   http://www.lucieslist.com    Research like crazy what you need and what is the best product for the job.  Oh, you don't need a bottle sterilizer.  I almost fell for that one. 

Best of luck. 

Everything in Moderation

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2014, 10:43:31 AM »
Just wanted to clarify, there is a difference between consignment stores and consignment events.  Stores have higher prices to cover their overhead.  Events are usually held in the Spring and Fall, they are at school gyms or larger companies like Rhea Lana rent out closed Kmart stores.  These events are the best.  You get a higher % back if you sell, and there is tons of inventory.  Prices are much lower ($1-$4 per outfit). 


Also, consider using a Midwife.  It will save you money and personally, you get better care.  I am delivering in a hospital.  My midwife stays with me the entire delivery, unlike an OB that shows up the last 5 minutes to catch the baby.  I am a huge believer in hospitals and healthcare, but Midwifes give patients better care and more support compared to OBs. 

nedwin

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2014, 12:54:20 PM »
As a new father of a nearly 3 month old, I can say without reservation that babies are terrible.  Probably the most challenging thing I've ever had to do in my life was to avoid killing our son during the first few weeks.  It's a wonder that the human race has continued this far quite frankly.

Combo of colicky baby + very big baby and very small mother + very very very difficult labour (mom couldn't walk or even sit up for more than a week due to tearing . . . and don't get me started on blood loss.  Looked like that scene from Carrie in the delivery room.  I actually think a C-section would have been easier on her.) + difficulty breast feeding  . . . . well, let's just say that the people who tell you that babies are great, and you'll have nothing to worry about are full of shit.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that we had him and am starting to adjust to his presence . . . but it was a very difficult adjustment with a lot of stuff coming at me at once.  Anything you can do now to try and make the first few months easier (cooking/freezing tons of meals, planning to have experienced family members stay over to help, making sure that nothing around the house needs fixing, etc. etc.) should be done.  You don't really need much stuff for the baby beyond diapers of some kind and a spot for the baby to sleep.

I really wish that the stuff I had read had been a little less positive and a little more realistic as far as preparing me for what having a newborn around the house entailed.  It's kinda a battlezone triage situation from the moment you bring your kid home.

Good luck.

I'm laughing at this because it is all true.  Every time I tell expecting friends something like this they look at me like i'm a monster, then give me the "you were right" look a year later.  Raising children is the most challenging thing I have done in my life to date.

Much of what I would add has already been said, but I will add that you will need to give your partner a tremendous amount of help.  This is something I wan't very good at during the first six months or so and it definitely created problems in our relationship.  This means that you get up to feed the baby and change diapers in the middle of the night, or just sooth the baby when it decides to scream all night.  How single parents do it without raising criminals 100% of the time is beyond me.  This is not something that should be done alone.

Also +1 to Greg for his advice.

RMD

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2014, 01:27:20 PM »
Anything you can do now to try and make the first few months easier (cooking/freezing tons of meals, planning to have experienced family members stay over to help, making sure that nothing around the house needs fixing, etc. etc.) should be done. 

Watch the bolded part carefully...I have friends with horror stories of experienced family members "help".  Holding the baby while the new mom feels the need to cook and clean for guests is not help.  Attempting to learn the breastfeeding thing with an overzealous MIL is a recipe for disaster. Set boundaries early.  Make sure everyone is clear on expectations and that everyone is comfortable with help in the house.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2014, 03:01:55 PM »
Good luck.

As a father of three, few things are harder than the first few months of parenting. Don't freak out, stay calm, take shifts if you can (breast feeding makes this harder).

Main thing I'll note is avoid buying shit. Avoid baby showers. We've gotten rid of so much junk, and get so much new junk every year. It depressed me even before I became Mustachian.

Try to gently encourage cash gifts. Open a 529 if college is a certainty, a taxable custodial account if not.

Don't let "helpful" family members parent for you, but ask friends/family for advice before Google/"experts"

Good luck.

avonlea

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #26 on: March 05, 2014, 03:08:57 PM »
Some great advice above, I would also say, plan to take a week off after the baby is born, I know they are tiny and they sleep a lot, but it is unbelievable how exhausting it is and some time to rest and relax and get in this groove is good for everyone involved.

If someone will be staying with you for a little while, if you have a week of paternity leave, you might want to take it after the person/persons leave.  Both of our children were fairly exhausted the first week after birth and slept somewhat decently at night.  Week 2 was when their true colors came shining through. 

WageSlave

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #27 on: March 05, 2014, 03:27:21 PM »
Rule number one is love your baby.  If you understand what love really means, and act accordingly, you will be a good parent.  Rule number two is to recognize that every baby is different.  You can "over prepare" and read every book ever written on baby-rearing; there's nothing wrong with that, but since every baby is different, you run the risk of "analysis paralysis" when it comes time to make decisions.

My view is that taking care of our offspring is deeply embedded in our genetics: which trait would nature select, the one that instills good child-rearing instincts, or the one that doesn't?  Humans have been successfully raising kids for a really long time... primitive man pulled it off in a much less forgiving environment than ours, so it can't be that hard.

We have two tiny people, a toddler and a 10-month old.  The other day, my wife, toddler and I were eating, and the baby was amusing herself rolling around on the floor.  My wife said, "Are we bad parents for just leaving her on the floor like that while we eat?"  I said, "I don't think so.  She's fed, her diaper is clean, she's not in any danger, and she's clearly very happy right now.  What could we do differently that would make us better parents?"

There is one book I would recommend, however, and that's Dr Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block.  There is a video version you can get (via Netflix if you opt for the DVD service), but I found the book much more meaningful.  You might get lucky and not need the book's information.  That was true for our first, a wonderfully easy baby.  She rarely fussed, and learned to sleep through the night early on.

However, our second put us in the hurt locker for the first six months of her life.  She didn't sleep at all during the day, and from about 5:00pm to midnight she was in all-out screaming mode.  She was inconsolable unless we did all five of Karp's "Five S's".  One of those S's is "swinging", or in our case, bouncing.  It's exhausting to constantly bounce and shush a baby, particularly when you're already grossly sleep-deprived.  We'd bounce and shush her (swaddled tightly on her side, with her pacifier) until her eyes closed and she seemed to be sleeping... then we'd ever so gently and quietly try to sit down, and within minutes she'd wake up and start screaming again.  So we were forced to stand and bounce until she finally wore herself out.  We did find that a dustbuster and/or the vent for our stove range were loud enough for her that we didn't have to shush.  My wife also found a free white noise app for her phone that worked reasonably well.

We watched the Happiest Baby video before reading the book, and thought the shushing looked ridiculous.  You literally put your mouth right up to the baby's ear and go "SHHHHHH" loudly and constantly.  But after struggling in vain to console her for days, we were willing to try anything.  Reading the book made me feel better about this, as he explained that (in theory) that's what the baby hears in the womb, and a baby's ears aren't developed enough to be damaged---it's loud to you but not to the baby.

Lots of people said their baby's wouldn't fall asleep unless they took them for a drive in the car... ours went straight to air-raid siren screaming the minute she was put in the car seat, and didn't let up until she was taken out of the seat, and all 5 S's were applied.

Hopefully you won't have colic and reflux issues like our second.  As terrible as it sounds to say this, while we were going through it, there were many times I regretted having a second.  I told my wife, if our first had been like that, I would have been reluctant to have a second.  But now that she's outgrown all that, she's a completely new baby, delightfully quick to smile and laugh, and I can't imagine not having her!

I don't know how my wife made it through those days by herself while I was at work.  She had the never-sleeping-always-needed-to-be-held baby, and our two-year old.  The baby was a hard adjustment for the toddler, as she went from having 100% of mom's attention to probably less than 20%, so she started acting out all the time.  Double-whammy.

Two kids isn't twice the work, it at times feels like 10x the work, and on a good day is still at least 2.1x the work.

Going back to the "every baby is different" rule.  I don't know what it is, but I've observed that some people have such strong opinions on baby-raising that they border on religious fanaticism.  Like with breast-feeding.  It's just not possible for some people, and look out if that happens to be you, as the zealots will make you feel like the scum of the earth and "you're just not trying hard enough".  With our first, my wife was in tears every time she tried to nurse... and lest you think she's a wimp, she delivered both babies without any meds and not a single tear or even whimper.  Our baby had latching problems and my wife wasn't producing enough milk.  She kept trying, until the lactation consultant told her to stop because her nipples were infected.  But she kept pumping for weeks (eight times/day, in accordance with the baby's feedings), hoping she'd eventually have enough milk.  But a whole day's pumping usually only resulted in a total of about an ounce.

We learned to keep our mouths shut when doing things against the grain, such as... letting our first sleep on her stomach.  She slept like a champ, as long as she was on her stomach.  On her back, she fussed and simply didn't sleep.  We felt so bad and were so worried, we bought this fancy AngelCare motion-detecting monitor.  My hunch is that preference for sleeping position is inherited, as even to this day, she sleeps on her stomach, positioned exactly like I do when I sleep!

Sorry, I started rambling there.  Kids are a life-changing experience, I can't imagine any parent disagreeing with that statement.  But it changes your life in a way that is impossible to convey with words; you can't predict it and you won't know it until you experience it, much like love.

Good luck and contrats!

avonlea

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Re: I'm Going to be a Father! Any Advice?
« Reply #28 on: March 05, 2014, 03:32:43 PM »
Wow, WageSlave. That was such a thoughtful, wonderful post!