As a mom to 3 children, I look back on my pregnancies and the early days of parenting and think, "If I knew then what I know now..." I might have prepared for birth differently, enjoyed pregnancy more, worried less about babies "sleeping through the night," taken more pictures of breastfeeding (my favorite time), and relished more of the day-to-day instead of anxiously anticipating the next milestone.
In honor of Father's Day this month, we wanted to find out what dads wished they would have known about pregnancy and birth. Here's what they had to say:
"The fact that daddy takes second place on so many fronts and that new moms are always right!"
"I wish I could have been more calm for [my wife] 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. Also, 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 chair-bed 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.'"
It's important to remember that dads and partners go through their own, unique experience with pregnancy, birth, and parenting. There isn't as much focus on the other half, which can make things even more difficult for that person. It helps to take time to connect, to take childbirth classes together, and to process what you're going through with each other and friends and family who are supportive.