Reflecting On My First Week As A Dad

At the time of writing, I’ve been a dad for little over a week. To be exact, it has been seven days, 13 hours and 26 minutes. It has possibly been the fastest week of my life and definitely the best.

Today I’ve been reflecting a bit on what we’ve been through and what we’ve experienced during the last week.

Not meaning to sound too corny, but we’ve been blessed with an exceptionally cute and immaculately behaved little daughter who feels like she’s always been part of our life. On top of that, I’ve got a missus who has taken brilliantly to life as a Mum, as well as a dog who hasn’t caused us too much hassle!

We’re both still trying to find our feet in the world of parenting. Trying to find the balance between looking after the little one, each other, ourselves and the endless pile of baby clothes that need washing. However, it feels like we’ve learnt a lot already, and if I can say so myself, are doing a pretty good job at juggling everything that has been thrown our way – particularly as Baby L popped out 2.5 weeks earlier than expected.

So, in full reflection mode, here are the five main things which I’ve learnt as a Dad during my first week of fatherhood.

1.  Having a baby has been easier than expected:  OK, I’ll throw it out there straight away and suffer the wrath of all of you parents struggling to get any sleep. I may be naive in writing this down and deserve any abuse that is thrown at me, but the truth is that we imagined things would be harder than they have been.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy, but it has been easier than we were told. We’ve not really suffered the main downsides associated with sharing a house with a newborn – we’ve had plenty of sleep, changing nappies has been fine and the little one doesn’t often make a noise. We know that luck also plays a big part – the little one hasn’t suffered any ailments, she has taken to breastfeeding very well, and as the birth was straightforward and quick, the ordeal hasn’t really impacted Hayley day-to-day.

Despite all of this good fortune, I like to think that we’re doing a good job too and that the baby’s temperament is an extension of our relaxed demeanour. We fully anticipate that we will soon suffer the hardships of no sleep etc, but hopefully our experience after the first week shows that a newborn doesn’t have to ruin your life like all stories we heard.

2.  A baby is pretty easy to understand:  I don’t proclaim to be a ‘baby whisperer’ or psychic, but one of the things I’ve learnt in the past week is that a baby isn’t particularly complex. As a newborn, all of their urges and actions come from the more primitive parts of the brain, meaning that their wants and needs are quite simple – namely things like food, sleep, warmth, affection and a clean bum.

Again, I’ll caveat by saying that Baby L has been an angel so far, but we’ve found that it is often a process of elimination as to why she is crying. First we’ll pop her on a nipple. If she’s not bothered, then chances are she needs a change. If her nappy isn’t wet / dirty, then she might be a bit cold, so an extra blanket or cuddle works well. Once her brain starts developing and a whole raft of different emotions and feelings creep in, then I imagine she will be more difficult to read.

However, for the time being, I’m pretty confident in saying that a baby’s needs are relatively straightforward and by process of elimination, you can figure out what she wants.

3.  Breastfeeding is awesome:  I don’t just mean the enhanced boobs and cleavage currently sat on the missus’ chest. I mean that, once established, breastfeeding is quite possibly the best thing ever. Why, I hear you ask? Well, here are some of the top reasons we’ve found. Firstly, the baby is able to feed whenever and wherever with little to no preparation.

When Baby L starts rooting or sucking, we recognise the signs, whap out a boob and baby happily latches on and feeds. This is particularly good in the middle of the night so that baby can feed next to mum in bed. This also means that no time is wasted preparing formula or sterilising bottles, during which baby gets even hungrier and becomes a crying monster. Breastfeeding also saves a lot of money – one article suggests it saves over $1,700 in the first year of a baby’s life, which I’m sure you agree is a huge saving.

There is also something nice about knowing that you are providing your baby with a natural and healthy feed. Nature gives women boobs to feed their offspring, so why turn to alternatives when breast milk is everything a baby needs? We’ve also found that breastfeeding is a great way for mum and baby to bond, in addition to putting Baby L into a milk-induced, drunken state following a good feed which ensures she gets a good sleep. I know breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, but it really has been awesome for us.

We’ve probably been lucky that baby appreciates a good boob (she must take after her Dad!), so we’ve had no issues with getting her to feed, but I also put this down to the relaxed, no pressure environment we’ve created. If Mum and Baby L are stressed and frustrated, then breastfeeding isn’t going to go as well.

4.  You become really popular:  Having a baby makes you as popular as Christian Bale at Comic-Con. We’ve been inundated with messages, cards and presents over the last week and it has been genuinely overwhelming. Yes, I know that people want to come and see Baby L rather than my ugly mug, but it doesn’t harm to think of myself as a minor celebrity for a short while.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most has been sharing this experience with our loved ones. We’d originally planned to shut ourselves off for a while so we could find our feet and establish a routine, but as things were going so well, we wanted people to meet her straight away. Already she’s met a few of our friends, spent time with both sets of grandparents (who unfortunately don’t live particularly close) and my brother.

We’re now starting to pencil in everyone else that wants to come and meet her which is very exciting. Having recently taught the dog to fetch the post when it comes through the letter box, he’s also loved running back and forth with a letter in his mouth!

5.  Take advice with a pinch of salt and do what you think is best:  Throughout our journey into parenthood, we’ve had a lot of advice, be it from friends, family, the internet or NCT classes. This has been fine – both Hay and I like to get as much info as we can before disseminating it and finding our own approach.

The important thing though is not to just listen to others without listening to yourself. There is some kind of instinct that kicks in when you become a parent which helps you decide what is best. Yes, you might not do everything the “right” way to start with, but you find your own way of doing things. It is your family and your baby, so just do what you feel is best. If you are struggling, then obviously reach out to the number of support structures out there, but don’t take everything they say as gospel.

For instance, we were told that labour would be long and have a slow build up – in reality, Hay was fully dilated after 30 minutes and had given birth within 3.5 hours of her first contraction. Similarly, we were told the first few weeks would barely see us get any sleep, whereas in reality we’ve both had as many hours sleep as we did pre-baby. The thing that has annoyed me the most is the conflicting advice that is out there. The prime example is co-sleeping, whereas some people say it is fine whilst others say you shouldn’t do it at all.

Therefore, listen to all of the advice you are given, remember that it comes from good intentions, but also remember that every baby is different and only you know how best to deal with your kid.

There we go. That’s my five main reflections from my first week as a Dad. What do you think? Do you agree / disagree with anything I’ve written? If so, let me know in the comments below.

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  • Tom @Ideas4Dads

    Lol glad its all going well mate but cant help but think you are tempting fate with the sleep comment (thinking about it youve still got about 5 days of adrenaline to run on before that peters out). In our experience those that have good sleepers at the start experience chaotic nights later on…..

    • I’m scared of that myself, but luckily I don’t believe in fate! I’m sure we are in the calm before the storm though and at some point we’ll be sucked into a spiralling whirlwind!

  • lianne

    So glad you’re settling into fatherhood so well! I love the top picture, so cute! Hope everything stays nice and easy for you!! 🙂

    Lianne | http://www.thebrunettesays.co.uk

    • Thanks Lianne – me too! Thanks, Hay snapped it when we were asleep – nice photo apart from my moob haha! Hope all is well and you’re all set!

  • Jenna Michelle Pink

    Your post made me giggle. I too thought having a baby was easier then expected. Baba slept like a champ until he was about 9 weeks old. Then no sleep, for anyone ever. Hes 14 months and still dosn’t sleep through the night.

    But yeah anyway. Breastfeeding is awesome. glad your lady has a supportive guy 🙂

    • Hi Jenna – pleased someone else did too – feels like I’ve said something I shouldn’t have done with that comment 🙂 Although your story about your baby not sleeping from 9 weeks to now is a little disheartening! Thanks for stopping by and I’ll show the missus your last comment 🙂

  • Train Driver’s Wife

    I’m happy baby L is settling in nicely with your family I hope you continue to find it easy to understand her!

  • I read your post with a mixture of “aww, how lovely” and laughing to myself. Huge congratulations and lovely you are all settling together so well. However, you do realise that you have now tempted fate and by the 6 week or so mark you will be arguing over who of you is the most tired 😉 #sharewithme

    • Hi Louisa – haha, yeah I think I’ve probably upset the Gods by saying it has been easier than expected so far. I fully imagine in a months time I’ll be deleting this post to make up for it 🙂

  • You Baby Me Mummy

    I am so glad it is going well for you. Long may it continue! x #MMWBH

  • Really glad to hear everything is going well for you so far Sounds like you have been pretty lucky with some things and were obviously well prepared which helped with others. I remember thinking the first few weeks were pretty ok then Monkey stopped sleeping all the time and we experienced the joy that is colic and the nest few months were pretty tricky at times! I hope that doesn’t happen for you guys though and I think you have the right attitude to advice, take it all with a pinch of salt and listen to your instincts! I look forward to hearing how it all goes! xx #babybabble

    • Hi Caroline – thanks for the comment. Yeah, I think that sums it up well – lucky but prepared! Colic sounds awful, really hoping that Baby L doesn’t get that. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Emilyandindiana

    Congratulations! So glad it’s going well for you. Our little girl slept through from 5 weeks but then the 4 month sleep regression hit. Be prepared haha xx #binklinky

    • Thanks! I plan on getting as much sleep as I can now to make up for the upcoming storm 🙂

  • Congratulations….So very glad everything is going well for you.x

  • Rachel Cooper

    Congratulations! Glad it’s all going well – it gets harder as they get older but even more rewarding. #pocolo

    • Thanks Rachel – yeah, I can imagine. Particularly when the answering back starts! 🙂

  • Emma Lander

    awww that is such a lovely photo. Happy first week! #BinkyLinky

    • Thanks – I was papped whilst sleeping one morning, If I’d have known, I’d have covered up the man boob!

  • Great to hear how it’s all going, congratulations! I can really identify with so much of what you mentioned here as I became a dad last year. Babies are always such a good icebreaker in social situations.

    • Thanks mate. Hope all is going well with your little one. In that case, I can imagine a baby would be the best ‘wingman’ if a dad was single 🙂

  • Let’s Talk Mommy

    Congratulations on being a Daddy! First week is always tough but sounds and looks like you are doing amazing. Papped whilst sleeping. Love it. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    • Thanks! I’m sure taking photos whilst asleep is a bit seedy – I could probably get the missus arrested! 🙂

  • Congrats! It may seem easy now but it will get harder…..Promise you

  • Congrats on the new phase of fatherhood .. Great going …

  • Jo Smith

    Do you know… number 1 I actually agreed with. Newborns really are quite easy to deal with. They sleep around 18 hours of the day. (easy! easy! easy!) LOL. Seriously though, wait until you get to the 4/5 month stage… sod sleep deprivation, you’ll have life deprivation! x

    • Haha, you’re one of the first people to agree with me on 1. Don’t say that, I enjoy my sleep! 🙂

  • Lovely post! It’s so nice to hear things are going well, ah those tiny newborn days!! Every stage brings different challenges and different highlights. It’s such an amazing thing. Reading this has made me think back to when Boo was a tiny baby, (she is only 8 months so not that long ago) and now I feel all warm and glow-y! Thank you!

    • Thanks for the comment and pleased you feel warm and glowy 🙂 Yeah, it has been a really nice time – not always sure of what we are doing, but it is going well and coming naturally 🙂

  • Keri Jones

    I couldn’t comment on this last night as I reflected on my own experience and got a little sad. I had PND after having my LO and really struggled. We slept with the light on for a few days as I thought something terrible was going to happen. As sleep deprivation hit things got worse.
    I’m glad you had such a positive experience in the first week. I’m looking forward to reading how things went from here 🙂 xx

    • Sorry to hear that, PND must be awful. Yeah, it’s very scary time at night when you either don’t hear the little one breathing or you hear weird breathing patterns and think something is wrong.

  • Kohlmama

    Congratulations, Papa. And way to go supporting ‘the missus’ with the breastfeeding. It rocks! #TheList

    http://www.kohlmama.com

  • You Baby Me Mummy

    Such a lovely post. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

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