I haven't been a parent for very long. I'm an only child, so I had no little brothers or sisters to learn from or to gain experience on what it might be like to raise a child. I literally knew NOTHING about babies before my daughter was born. Here are a few things that I know now, that I didn't know a few months ago.
1. Babies take over.
Everything. Think of something and I can tell you how it is now your child's. If you really like something, give it up before you have kids. Take my motorcycle, for example. It is being sold this Spring. Not because I want to, but because I have no use for it anymore. My days off of work are spent with my daughter. There's no point in keeping it.
2. You get to sleep when they decide you can.
There is no sleeping while baby is awake. How could you? They need lots of attention and someone around at all times. I advise you to take lots of naps, just like they do. My daughter sleeps pretty well at night, but sometimes she cries. And when she cries, everyone knows it. She makes sure of that. Babies don't know time. 8 p.m., 3 a.m. or noon. It's all the same to their little brains.
3. Being in public will never be the same.
I am the type of person who doesn't like a lot of attention. When we go shopping, I play a mental game of beat the clock. A sleeping baby is like a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off at any moment. Brynlee has been pretty good with us, but there have been a few incidents in public where I was uncomfortable. Like getting out of the car while at Chase bank's drive-up to get into the backseat and calm down a screaming baby. Or one time at Target when she decided to projectile spit-up all over the floor of the aisle. The best you can do is try to be prepared. But you are never going to be completely. I've come to realize that other people understand, especially parents.
4. Writing a blog is a lot harder to keep up with.
Even though I am doing it right now, it's not easy. She is currently in her jumper, spinning plastic tumblers and flipping the pages on a plastic book. She is loving it of course, but any second now I will be tending to her next interest. Good luck, fellow bloggers. Hopefully you don't mind working late at night.
5. Breast milk is better. And it's free.
Do whatever you can to breastfeed your child. Obviously not YOU, dad, but you know what I mean. Formula is way too expensive and the health benefits just aren't the same. I know some women can't, or simply don't want to, but it's worth it. Stick it out too, because the longer you can, the better. My wife still is and it's saved us lots of money. Bryn has tried formula when we are desperate but she doesn't digest it very well, even the supplementing kinds. With breast milk she has no problem. (Isn't it crazy that a human being can live on nothing but milk for the first six months of their lives?)
Never heard of it before. Now I know that it's a must when doing the baby's laundry. Our clothes get the normal detergent, but baby gets Dreft laundry detergent. It's gentle for the little ones. Who knew? Not me. As a matter of fact, there is a whole assortment of special things made just for babies. Shampoo, body wash, medicine and nursery water are just a few.
7. Babies "R" Us is usually cheaper than Buy Buy Baby.
Buy Buy Baby is a nicer store. At least I think so. And because they are sister stores, BBB takes Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons which come in the mail quite often if you are part of their newsletter. There is usually a 20% off coupon attached to their catalogs and that usually makes a deal worth it to me. However, if our coupon stash is depleted, Babies "R" Us is our go-to store for just about everything from bottles to diapers. Speaking of diapers . . .
8. Diapers are pricey, and gone in a split second.
We go through probably ten a day on average. Is that normal? I don't really know. But it's a lot. Especially when diapers are around $.25 a piece. That's $2.50 a day or $70.00 per month. Do what we did. For our baby shower we held a diaper raffle. Basically, there is a prize - ours was a Coach purse - and for every guest that brought a pack of diapers, they received an entry into the drawing. We ended up with so many diapers that we don't know what to do with them. But at least we won't have to pay for any for a while. Problem solved.
9. You will fall in love.
As manly as you might be you will still have your heart stolen. Your little boy will be the best thing that ever happened to you. Do you have a daughter? She will be a daddy's girl. Trust me. Your heart will melt when she runs to you as you walk in the door. Every day, she will be waiting for you. It's awesome. I can't wait until my little girl is old enough to do that. I have heard plenty stories from others. Brynlee already puts on a big smile when I get home. That's all it takes for me.
10. Friendships fade.
My friends don't share any of the same interests as I do anymore. I don't have time, money or a desire to go out to the bar on a Friday night anymore. I have a child to take care of, a wife to spend time with and bills to pay. Good friends stay, but you don't see them as much. Unless they really like babies. Women do, but guys . . . not so much. That's why you see dads become friends with other dads. There is common interest there. It's normal.
There are plenty more things I've learned but the most important one is pretty obvious - your life will change.
I can tell you something else, too.
You'll be glad that it did.
Kevin Whitehead lives in the Southwest suburbs with his wife and almost one-year-old daughter Brynlee. He started PregoForMen shortly after finding out his wife was pregnant. He invites you along on his journey as he discovers just how much life can change in nine short months and beyond.
See more of Kevin's stories here.