5 Lessons I’ve Learned in My First 18 Months as a Dad
My daughter is almost 18-months (or a year-and-a-half for the strangers who ask and to whom I don’t want to provide a math problem) and I’m loving every minute.
There have been some challenges and soul-searching, as well as many times that I just can’t believe how lucky I am.
As IVF patients, our route wasn’t the most simple, though I’ve written plenty about that, so we can just skip to day one. Once she arrived, we got her home and placed her ever-so-carefully in her crib. Now what? She wasn’t in need of milk, hugs, swaddling, or changing.
That was the first lesson. Sometimes you just have to take a breath and let it all sink in. It’s OK to take a moment and just commit this to memory. You’re doing something amazing and you have the power to shape a brand new person. Make them a good one.
Next came the endless changes. I don’t mean the diapers, of which there are so many. I mean the new things that baby will learn how to do. First comes lifting up his/her head, then rolling over, then finding things to put in his/her mouth. After a while you will just learn to be amazed that your little creation is in a constant state of learning and development.
It’s alright to be tired. Parents are tired all the time and probably will be until your baby moves off to college. Have a cup of coffee, take turns with your partner for power-naps, and drink lots of water. Whatever it takes to make it through to baby’s next nap, do it.
Being a parent can be lonely. I mean really lonely. If you spend all day with your baby, you’ll miss conversations and people asking about your day. If you’re the partner who goes off to work, even though you’ve had a long day of meetings, make a point to talk to the stay-at-home parent, if that’s your situation. We’re just getting to the stage where our daughter can go to story-times at the local library, or play groups so she can get some time with other children. Hopefully us parents will meet some other mums and dads too.
Make decisions and stick to them. I’m a big supporter of healthy and (wherever possible) an organic diet for my daughter. Sometimes other people and care-providers might not have the same beliefs as strongly as you, but it’s your job to tell them how important they are. It’s alright to be assertive if you don’t want them to feed baby ‘little treats’ or snacks before meal time, or to change up your carefully planned sleep routine because they think they know better. This is your child and you’re doing the best you can.
As always, I’m not an expert. I’m just a Dad trying to do the best I can. What lessons have you learned so far?