Thursday, March 31, 2011

Advice for the New Father

I had coffee this week with a lovely new mom and her beautiful 7 week old son. It's always interesting to hang around a parent with a newborn and reminisce about my own experiences with a tiny infant. Also known as the fourth trimester - those first 3 months of your baby's life when you are completely batshit crazy. Hormones, lack of sleep, and the crushing weight of responsibility create the perfect breeding ground for huge, juicy resentments. Against your mother, your mother in law, well meaning friends, your own child, but more than anyone- against the Baby Daddy.

I feel bad for the Baby Daddies. Stumbling around the house in a fog, trying to juggle the responsibilities of a workplace that doesn't really care that you have a new dependent, trying to appease a partner who wants to stab you while you sleep. So I thought I'd come up with a few pointers to help the new dad (most especially, the first timer) navigate these choppy postpartum waters.

1. Shut Up. Chances are, your first-time partner doesn't know what she's doing, either. But she will always know more than you, so don't offer pointers on how to hold or change or feed the baby. If you think you have a better way, ask, don't tell. 'Is this a good way to hold the baby?' 'Do you think he likes it when I do this?'

2. Be Present. My husband calls these first few months "Lockdown". Unless you have to work, or are going to the store for your beloved, be available. Do not golf. Do not fish. If you are home, for the love of Pete, DO NOT NAP. Nothing will piss a mom off like the sight of your sorry ass snoring on the couch while she sits there, dog ass tired and covered in spit up.

3. But Do Not Hover. It's a fine line.

4. Make Her a Sandwich. Anticipate her needs, because she will not communicate them. I clearly remember sitting on the couch boring holes into Sean's head thinking "Why isn't he making me a sandwich? OMG! Can't he see I'm hungry?"

5. Tell Her She Looks Great. Because she doesn't feel it. Tell her you're shocked at how fast she's losing the baby weight (even if she's not). Make sure she knows that you think motherhood has made her more beautiful than ever.

6. Do Not Even Think About Sex. Seriously. Let her know you are available whenever she is ready, whenever that may be. Then drop it.

7. Fall in Love With Your Child. Because there is no better way to let her know that you are in this together, forever, than loving your baby. Care about every coo and burp and poopy diaper (and change a lot of those, for good measure).

8. Know That Everything is a Phase. I remember walking a week old Julia in circles around the living room for what seemed like hours, repeating the mantra "Everything is temporary, everything is temporary." There is no phase that goes by quicker than the newborn one, and it's a blessing and a curse.

Congratulations, Daddies, yours is a special and awesome responsibility. Now go make Mama a sandwich.


  1. How do I do the mind-reading/sammich thing? I mean, doesn't taking her to Prince help?

  2. Wonderful, simply wonderful! I especially like #2, the part in all caps!!

  3. I just sent this to a guy expecting his first any minute now. Just in time!

  4. Bookmarking this and hoping I remember to go back to it a few years from now.