As a mom to 2 -- soon to be 3 -- children, I look back on my first pregnancy and the early days of parenting my first son and think, "If I knew then what I know now..." If I only knew, I might have prepared for birth differently, spent more time enjoying pregnancy instead of wishing for it to go faster, worried less about my son sleeping through the night and where, when and how he napped, taken more pictures of my son nursing (my favorite time), and relished more in his day-to-day rather than anxiously awaiting each new milestone.
But the truth is, no matter how many books you read or how much advice you encounter, the only true preparation for pregnancy, birth and parenthood is the lived experience. And while moms feel that the majority of this grand event happens to and affects them, dads also have an experience that is unique, profound and unfortunately, often neglected. Unlike women, men are not expected or encouraged to communicate their feelings -- but that doesn't mean they don't have an opinion!
So what do dads have to say? In preparation for the blog's celebration of Father's Day, I went out on Facebook in search of dads' answer to the question, "For your family's first pregnancy and birth, what do you wish you would have known?"
Here's what they had to say:
"The fact that daddy will take second place on so many fronts and that new moms are always right!"
"It's one of those, 'If I knew then what I know now' kind of things. I wish I could have been more calm for her and been able to enjoy the moment even more than I did. I was too crazy to take it all in!"
"How to advocate for my partner in the hospital setting."
"Her glow, beauty and the complete growth of love that God would bestow upon us. The cost of diapers."
"I wasn't really surprised because I didn't have any expectations."
"How much love the human heart can provide."
"The uncomfortable chairbed in the hospital. Lesson learned: Baby #2, daddy got air mattress! Even the nurses were like, 'Smart guy...'"
"I wasn't prepared for the tar-like meconium poop in the beginning or how huge the head would look as it was crowning!"
"I could never have anticipated how hard I was going to fall in love with our newborn child. Awe inspiring."
"The actual birth, sleep deprivation... hell I should have been more prepared for everything!"
"I wish I would have been better prepared for what would happen in the event of an emergency c-section (which is what happened with our first). It would have been nice to know what kinds of complications could cause that. Also, I wish I would have known more about swaddling and changing diapers."
"The entire pregnancy and birth leads up to the big event of 'bringing baby home.' But once we got home, I felt as though there wasn't much to do besides change diapers. Newborns (at least ours) sleep a lot! It wasn't until our son was 3 or 4 months old that I felt like I could really interact and do more with him."
"I wish I had been better prepared for the fact that labor can take a long time and you need to pack snacks for you and your wife if you don't want to leave the room. I was also unprepared for when they took our daughter (I went along) for a heel poke. They bent her foot back on itself (it looked like they were going to break her foot!) and squeezed really hard to get the blood to come out. She screamed bloody murder and I nearly punched the lady for what I was convinced was abuse of my newborn baby girl. Turns out, it was standard procedure. So, either don't go for the heel poke or be prepared to witness and not attack. Personally, I'm glad I went so that I could cuddle her as soon as they were done. Looking back, I hoped it would be her first perception of 'daddy coming to the rescue.'"
To the expectant moms reading, reach out and talk to your husband/boyfriend/partner -- what does he worry about, what is he most excited for, what does he think about this new life experience? To the dads reading, make your voice heard! She may not ask you, but mom-to-be wants to know how you're coping too.