Dad Tips: The First Week Home
The Labor after “Labor”My poor wife was in labor for about 20 hours before she ended up having a C-section to bring our little girl into the world. Now that she is done with her labor, it is time for us husbands to do some "labor." Luckily for us, it is definitely not as hard of a process as our significant others just had to go through.
1. Team Family
Sometimes it is great to live close to family, and other times you wish you could get away. Having a baby is definitely a time to be close to family. If you happen to be lucky enough to have family fairly close to you, definitely accept and ask for help for the first few weeks after getting home. My awesome family volunteered to clean up our entire house while we were at the hospital and filled our fridge with food for when we came home. This made my job of getting the home ready for the baby so much easier. If you don’t have that family support, try to sneak away while Mom is sleeping at the hospital to get the home ready.
Depending on how your wife feels about pumping milk, don’t forget to have your pump already purchased before coming home from the hospital. I unfortunately thought we could quickly pick it up right after I dropped Mom and Baby off at home. Unfortunately, we didn’t leave the hospital and get home until after normal business hours so the place our insurance referred us to for our free pump was closed. I spent hours shopping around to try and find a pump, meanwhile my wife really needed it hours ago since our daughter wouldn't latch…oops! Learn from my mistakes.
2. To stay or not to stay, that is the question.Being a new dad and having both Baby and Mom at the hospital trying to recover, I found it very difficult to make the decision of staying the nights at the hospital or to go home. In the end the choice is yours, but this is my advice to any new dads-to-be: GO HOME!! As much as I love my wife and new daughter and want to be there and support them, it is best to go home at night to sleep (but definitely be there during the day if you can). I learned from choosing not to go home the first night that there are constant interruptions from nurses coming in to check on Mom and the new baby which means that you are constantly being woken up. By staying at the hospital I was sacrificing sleep for basically no reason other than emotional support since my new little family had all the support they need from the nurses. I’m not trying to say emotional support isn’t needed, but you can give this to your wife by calling and checking on her after you get home and when you wake up. Because I didn’t sleep very well at the hospital, when it finally came time to come home, both my wife and I were completely drained of energy and struggled to take care of our new daughter and keep the house in order. Yes, we made it through; however, both my wife and I agree that if we could go back and do it again I would come home so that I can be more useful once we lost the support of the nurses. A note from my wife on this topic: Always remember, guys, to leave TACTFULLY. DO NOT - I REPEAT - DO NOT just up and leave your wife and baby. They will have a huge flurry of hormones coursing through their body right now and need your support more than you probably realize. So, talk about it BEFORE the baby comes. Gently explain what you are going to do when you are home. Come and visit often in the hospital if your wife and baby are staying for multiple days. Just remember: be so gentle, be so kind.
3. Welcome Home!
Now that the house is in order and you have everything you need, our job as husbands is over…or not! This is probably one of the best opportunities to show your spouse that you really care for her by serving her as much as possible. Even the simple tasks will help her not be so overwhelmed with all the changes going on. Not only do we need to support our spouse around the house, we also need to be willing to listen. My wife was full of mixed emotions with what was going on, and it helped to just talk through it all. Do realize though, that you will not be able to fix everything, and some things you just need to be there to listen to her so that she can express her feelings. For us, things started to normalize after a week of being home.
I didn't realize that taking care of a baby would be so challenging. Before our daughter was born I just thought it would be like babysitting someone's kids, just doing it all the time. I have never been more wrong in my life, having a child was the most challenging things I have done because our focus has to completely changed from "what I want" to "what she needs." It is totally worth it, and I am very proud of who my daughter is becoming because of our efforts to take care of her!