Several parents told me things that I found to be false after having my kid. Let’s explore.
Get all the sleep you can…
I had no idea what to do with this advice. You have no context for how to apply this to your life because you haven’t had kids yet.
I wouldn’t phrase it this way. I’d say try to get healthier as you near the due date of your child. If you’re sleeping poorly because you’re over-stressed, you’ll have a problem finding extra energy when your kid arrives — and you’ll need it. You might get sick and won’t be able to help your partner through the grueling newborn stage that lies ahead.
Get all the sleep you can means try to get yourself into a healthy state so that you’re ready to go through the most stress you’ve ever had in your life and still survive.
Are you ready to be a dad?
I’ve had more than a few people ask me this question in a lighthearted way.
Can you be ready to learn swimming from an instruction manual? Or how about riding a bike from paper instructions?
The same applies for parenting your child. You can prepare by reading but until you’re in the thick of it, you’ll still be unprepared. Parenting will still kick your ass in the newborn stage and probably beyond — but you’ll learn a lot.
Enjoy this time
It’s an insult to injury when you share how sleep deprived you are and some parent says — but you should really enjoy this time.
Was I wrong to think the first several weeks were hard? After talking to several other fathers, they too have confirmed hearing optimistic empty words like this from their loved ones. Not one of them found joy during the early newborn stage. It was a call of duty.
You’ll hear someone say oh you’ll experience that instant connection and forget about how hard it is.
Perhaps there are unicorn parents out there that love the newborn stage — bless your wonderful hearts.
Many fathers don’t instantly bond to their child. There’s a saying that a mother becomes a mother at pregnancy but a father becomes a father when he first holds his baby.
Most of the men I’ve talked to did not instantly bond with at least one of their children. It took months before that happened.
Advice from non-parents
I had two non-parents ask how I’m doing with parenting. After I told them the truth about how tough it is, they replied — oh don’t worry, you’ll get through it. Or — hey, it’s just a few months and it’ll be worth it.
How the hell do you know if you’ve never been a parent? You most likely don’t.
You’ll get used to it in a few weeks
No, you won’t. I’ve been at it for over a month and I’m still not used to it. Is it better than the first week? No doubt. I have more capacity and I’ve built some structure around my new life. My kid is sleeping better as he’s growing week by week.
It can take months before a baby sleeps in 6 hour intervals. It takes about 6 months before you can start sleep training. Before then, you’re working in shifts with your partner to take care of your baby and each other.
Judgement on breast milk
You’d think that if you don’t purely breast feed then you’re a damn loser.
I heard this sentiment from a few parents and health officials. There’s breast milk elitism out there.
Listen — if you’re mentally drained and cannot function because you’re over-stressed and sleep deprived, you can’t help your kid. Remember what they tell you on the airplane, put on your oxygen mask first before putting it on your kid.
If you need to combo-feed breast milk and formula just so your partner can get much needed sleep and have capacity to take care of the little one — do it.