Learning that you are going to be a new dad is an exciting/terrifying time in your life, no matter your age or maturity level. A question that might be on your mind is “what is expected of me?” Let’s delve into this question by taking what your counterpart expects of you.
Watch What You Say
If you are asking yourself this question, your wife or partner is going through a lot right now. You are both probably preparing for the birth of your child, which could be 6 months away or just a few days. Stress is high, anxiety is high, and patience with each other is at an all-time low. Before the baby arrives, your significant other expects you to be more understanding and more patient and more careful with what you say. It is never a good thing to mention that she is developing ‘cankles’ at this late stage of pregnancy, or that her stretch marks resemble ‘lightning bolts from Zeus.’
With the increased sensitivity, make more than a conscious effort to watch your words. On the other hand, she expects a free pass with her emotions and outbursts and what she says to and about you. Sorry to break it to you, but that’s just the way it is. The sooner every new dad comes to grips with this reality, the better life will be. She is dealt the role of carrying the baby for 9 months and pushing it out of her, well you know. Her hormones are all sorts of jacked up, so she gets a free pass for the duration of the whole ordeal. Don’t you think that’s fair? I’ll gladly give her that rather than do what women have to do to birth an 8+ pound child, let alone carry it for 9 miserable months with messed up hormones pulsing through my body turning me schizophrenic and bi-polar all at once.
Help Out Where You Can
Once the baby arrives, you and your wife will have different roles. Obviously, the mother will feed and nurture the baby for the most part. This is especially true early on and if she decides to breast feed. During the first few months, you might feel kind of worthless. There isn’t a whole lot you can provide for your child at this point. So, step up and offer to change as many diapers as possible. Your spouse will greatly appreciate this move. Become the diaper master. I can guarantee that I change a faster diaper with less wipes used than my wife can. Booya. And while that doesn’t sound all that glamorous to become the diaper master, it shows that you are actively participating in the early stages of your child’s life.
I told my wife that I would take care of the night time, even though I work full time during the day. My wife was so exhausted at the end of each day that she would sleep through the monitor and forget to wake up and feed the baby. So I would keep the baby monitor by me and I would check on the baby during the night to change diapers and bring her to my wife whenever she was hungry.
The key is to be supportive every chance you get. Go above and beyond what you normally do. Prepare meals, give extra back or foot rubs, take care of the errands and grocery shopping, help with the cleaning and chores around the house (or just do them all), and be at her disposal for whatever she needs. If your wife is not breast feeding your baby, you can take shifts bottle feeding formula.
As your child grows, there is more and more that you can help out with. I have graduated from not just master diaper changer school, but the potty whisperer academy, and the crawl on the ground and play college. I never had the opportunity to feed my daughter except for the occasional pumped breast milk bottle, but just because your nipples don’t produce milk doesn’t mean you get out of meal time. Sometime around 6 months your baby will start eating baby food. This is another time that you can step up and help out. I am no master at feeding my daughter. Even after a year, she still mostly wants her mom to feed her. And that’s fine with me, because meal time is usually mess time, and I don’t like wearing blended up sweet potatoes. But if it works, help out as much as you can in this role.
It’s all about spending time with your family, isn’t it? You decided consciously or not to bring another life into this planet. You might as well be the best dad you can be. Be there for your wife and for your baby. Spend as much time with them as possible, even if there isn’t much for you to do. I think that pretty much sums up your over-arching role and what your wife or partner expects of you as a first time dad.
As new dads, it’s hard to feel like there is anything we can do to help out. But when you think about it, there are a lot of things we can do to lessen the load that is on our better half’s shoulders. The more you do, the less worthless you will feel, and the more grateful she will be. Support her needs, and spend as much time with them as possible. Good luck!