It’s 7:00AM, You’re tired, stomach is in knots, not sure what the last good breath felt like because it’s been so long since the last one. The walls are white, you’re alone with a mask on your face, and you’re in blue scrubs. Did you suddenly fall into a psychotic state and land yourself in a psych ward amid the pandemic? Nope. You’re sweaty, scared, and about to be walked into the delivery room. Your baby is coming.
Is it scary? Yes. Are you prepared? To an extent. Did you forget to turn the stove off when your wife or partner’s water broke and you rushed out of the house? Probably not? I don’t know your life.
What I can tell you is that your baby is coming. It is scary, exciting, magical, and scary. Did I say it was scary? Because it is.
I feel like most people truly don’t understand what having a child actually entails until that child finally bursts through the canal, or the c-section opening, and enters the world. At that point, ready or not, here come the next (at least) 18 years of your life.
As much as those years may be on your mind, the next few weeks are staring you straight in the face. And they are rough.
As you stare, eyes drooping as you clench your stomach, you’re probably wishing you’d gotten a few extra hours of sleep in. Well, you’ll be nursing that wish for quite some time.
Newborns require feedings every two hours. Yes, you read that right. Every two hours. You might be thinking, “yea, but my wife, girlfriend, partner, or other half, or what ever I call them will be breastfeeding, so easy nights for me lay ahead.” And, well, you might be right. If you’re an asshole.
My fiancee did breastfeed our son, and was really great when it came to trying to let me sleep for work during the weekdays. This does not mean it happened that way every time. In fact, most of the time I would wake up with her, make sure she had water, a snack, anything she may need to make the late night nursing at least a little more tolerable. Once I knew she was well tended to and comfortable, I would slide myself back into bed with her.
Especially in the first week or two after birth. Imagine pushing a watermelon out of your downstairs parts. Or in the heavier cases, having your abdomen cut open so a group of people can pull a watermelon out. A watermelon that, in at least 50% of cases, looks way more like your other half than they do you! So, yea. The first few weeks are exceptionally difficult on mothers.
Sleep will be hard to come by, for sure, but there is a silver lining. After about a month or so, your baby falls into a routine. You are starting to lock down exactly what to and what not to do at specific cries, at specific times of day, things are starting to look up. You can take small naps, bringing your sleep time back up, and your baby is starting to go down at more reasonable times. A straight eight hours is still far out, but 4-6 consecutive are in sight.
In those first few weeks, that baby will take up residence in just about every part of your mind, but that doesn’t mean that baby should be the only person on your mind.
Mothers need breaks. If there’s one thing I’ve always heard, it’s that one of the biggest causes of divorce in America is children. I imagine it has something to do with the lack of interest or involvement a lot of fathers take in their children, but a much bigger point that could be made is that a lot of men pay their wives no attention after their children are born.
A man that takes care of his children is a good man. A man that takes care of his children and also makes sure his wife/girlfriend is well taken care of at the same time? Now that’s the goal.
The first six weeks after your child is born will truly set the stage for how the next few years will go. If you are inattentive or selfish during this crucial period, things could quickly go up in flames between you and your partner. Not only does your baby need you, your wife/girlfriend needs to understand you value and appreciate the sacrifice she made just undergoing pregnancy.
The first few weeks are your time to really shine. And if your significant other isn’t breastfeeding, there really isn’t any excuse. Give your baby a middle of the night bottle a few times a week. Take over diaper changes when you get home from work. Give your partner a foot rub. Whatever you have to do to show your partner you love, value, and appreciate them and everything they’ve done for you and your family, do it. It might seem like a lot at times, but I guarantee it means a billion times more to them.
For all your hard work at this point, you’re probably thinking, “hey, I have earned myself some loving from the mrs. for sure.”
Well, for the first six weeks, you’re very wrong.
Sex is off limits for six weeks after birth. That’s right. Six whole sexless weeks. Can you make it? Can the master child producer put his prowess aside for that long? The simple answer is, well, yes.
Sex is a very important part of any relationship. In fact, it’s at least 50% of what makes a healthy relationship. So to set it aside for six weeks is a rough concept to grasp, but it is doctors orders.
Things get even tougher when you realize that your wife may be some of the most turned on she’s ever been just watching you kill it as a father, but unless you want to risk her safety, another pregnancy, or pushing off sexual contact for even longer than it needs to be, your only option is to wait.
The waiting period isn’t as bad as it may sound, though. Six weeks sounds like a lot longer than it really is. When you take all the baby care, foot rubs, and sleep loss into account, the last thing you’ll think about at the end of most days is going to be sex. Meaning that when you finally get the ‘okay’ to jump back into the sack with your lady love, it is just that much better. Like, wow. So good.
Now I know this sounds like a lot. Or maybe you’re already a dad, and it sounds like a little. But either way, the first six weeks are worth it. They go by so quickly, they’re literally a blur for my fiancee and I. That could, of course, be due to sleep loss. But, hey, our boy is the sweetest little boy in the world, so it is worth every second is lost sleep.
So make sure your mask is tight, pull your big kid scrubs up, and take a few deep breaths. The first six weeks are on their way, and you definitely got this.