Fatherhood So Far: Advice for the Next Guy

My friend Jason welcomed me to fatherhood with this:

For context, our daughter is currently 3 months old.

I'll skip the stuff that we heard from at least 3 other sources... Happiest Baby 5Ss (DVD more useful than book), UCSF classes, essential gym ball, ergo, French parenting craze.

For labor: Wise birth partners who came before me told me to "be a mountain" and that helped a lot. Mountains don't talk too much or problem solve, but they're unflappable and constant. That said, one problem solving episode really worked well: I had read books about labor, but it was too hard to integrate / remember it all. Months later when she went into labor, the contractions came on so strong that they put Rebecca out with morphine to allow some rest. For the 3 hours she slept, I re-read the labor coping techniques section of one of our other books, and Rebecca says that was one of the most helpful things I did. She woke up and I had a menu to form a plan from. If you can pack a book and find even 30 minutes to re-read... that's when it sticks. I also packed a electric heating pad as a surprise based on Brett's advice and it was appreciated for back pain and hot/cold flashes.

We also got professional help in the form of a home-visit lactation consultant referred by our pediatrician. She was really helpful. Rebecca always said she feared establishing breast feeding more than labor. I was skeptical but there's truth to that. Speaking of, our pediatrician is pretty awesome, especially for his office experience. He's in Presidio Heights.

It's hard to summarize advice for happiness at home because everything that worked changed after 2-4 weeks. We blazed through every swaddle, pacifier, bottle system, and white noise solution until we found favorites.

I noticed that everyone at the hospital had the same calming technique, and that worked really well for the first 2 months: shush while vigorously (amplitude, not frequency) bouncing her sitting upright, one hand under butt. This was slightly different from bouncing them on their side as Harvey Karp's 5S's suggested.

I took 10 days off work for paternity and am happy with that decision. I took them in small chunks across the first month and when family was not in town. Rebecca took 3 months off work and just went back to work yesterday. Although we almost did a nanny, we're doing a day care that's along Rebecca's commute. Today is day 2, so the jury's still out on this one.

Beck really likes this app. It's been surprisingly accurate at predicting difficult periods, which somehow makes it a little easier to know when tough times are expected. Beck also thinks that joining a mothers group was incredibly helpful.

For sleep, we're doing this tiny book's method semi-strictly. Listening to her cry for short periods outside her nursery at 2AM is the hardest part of the whole parenthood package. Beck says I become "Ffej", Jeff's angry twin. I'd say it's mostly working, as we've had about 8 days of sleeping 12 hours through the night, and ~20 days of only one wake-up. It's probably just her, not the technique, so we might just be lucky on this front.

Stay strong. I found that after the first two weeks and the visits from friends settle down, it's tough and the rewards really start to appear around 12 weeks. She tries to do things, anticipates bath time, responds to the stupid things we do with our faces, and laughs.

Good luck! Your mileage will vary.