Before I became a dad, I had an altogether different view on babies. I was definitely less tolerant of other people’s babies, that’s for sure. I remember going into restaurants and thinking that having babies there was annoying, but now I get it. In fact, we were those people with a baby in a restaurant just last week.
Being a new dad has given me a new perspective on life.
I remember being worried about money: would I make enough money to provide for our baby? To pay for daycare? To put food on the table? I still worry about these things today, but I have a better understanding of our family’s needs.
On that day that our son was born, there weren’t many words to describe what I witnessed. Shocked may be the closest fit. The birth was very emotional. I may have even cried a little, although I’m not likely to admit this in person.
When we drove our new baby boy home from the hospital, it seemed like every single person was trying to take us out. We narrowly avoided two accidents, and it was a white-knuckle drive back to the house. When we got there, our two dogs were pretty surprised to see what we had brought home. We weren’t sure how they would react to having a baby in the house, but they have both grown to accept a lot over the past seven months.
Both dogs, Pete and Luna, have become more protective, but they are still working on boundaries. Luna is more interactive with our baby, which is a real surprise since she’s usually a tornado, both inside and outside of our house. Somehow, though, she is gentle with the baby.
Petie, however, still needs some work. He is definitely curious, but still a bit standoffish.
When my wife, Kat, went back to work full time, I switched to working second shift and stayed home with our son during the day. While it was a major schedule change, I thought it would be better for his early development to spend his day with family instead of going to a daycare right away.
Now, instead of sitting in my cubicle for eight hours, I spend my days feeding him, changing diapers, playing, napping together, and going for stroller walks in the neighborhood.
Sometimes, getting the baby to nap is really frustrating. Also, since I’m working nights, trying to function with little sleep myself has been a big challenge. In the beginning, taking care of him with this new schedule seemed like an impossible task; I felt like a walking zombie. I had gone from talking to grownups all day to being a new dad and having to guess what this little person needed all day. At first, the guessing was really frustrating, but we’ve gotten into a routine over time, and things are much better now.
My favorite part of our day together is interacting with each other: playing, having “conversations” (sort of, since he babbles), and laughing. I love getting him to laugh. Also, we have the Wonder Weeks app, and I love being able to track his developmental milestones that way.
Before our schedule change, he spent almost all of his time with my wife, Kat, so our relationship has really grown stronger since she went back to work. He definitely notices me more, wants to be held by me, and he even looks for me when he’s nursing.
In addition to learning to live on little-to-no sleep, I have also become more responsible. I have found more meaning in small interactions, and realize now that for our son, we are his whole world. Everything we do is important for him, and that’s a big responsibility.
As our son gets older, I hope to teach him to be polite and considerate, have a good sense of humor, be hard-working, and be strong. I hope that he will find purpose and direction, even though I have struggled at times to do this myself.
Guest Blogger: Anthony Salemno
New dad, Anthony, was born and raised in Northern Vermont. He and Kat met in junior high and were high school sweethearts. Anthony enjoys cooking, working on their new house, playing with their dogs, and going for walks with their seven-month-old son.