Here’s one thing I was told (and often): “Sleep now, because you won’t be sleeping once the baby comes.” Yeah, dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You can’t bank sleep, only catch up on it. But that is typically the advice I was given as a first time dad.
For our story, we didn’t have a perfect first-time birth. There were several complications, and some of them came back to bight us in the months following. But we’re here, and we’re alive, we’re sane (sort of, haha), and we’re wiser. There were several lessons I had to learn on my own. In fact, when I shared one of my learned lessons with a guy I know who was about to have his first child, he responded, “Thank you. I haven’t heard that one before.”
That got me thinking that maybe some others can hopefully learn from the things I’ve learned. That’s what the Bible talks about in 2 Corinthians 1:4 when it says “[God the Father] comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
So here’s 4 lessons I’ve learned from becoming a dad.
- Take care of your wife. Sounds obvious right? But here’s the thing. When you have a baby, everything changes. Simple tasks aren’t that simple anymore. She’s deprived of sleep, energy, and usually needs some time to heal anyways (She just pushed a human out of her body, for crying out loud). It can look like:
- Doing the dishes
- doing the laundry
- getting the baby up, and bringing them to her so she can stay in bed.
- Inviting other moms over. This is one I wish I had done. It will be hugely encouraging to her to have other moms to talk to, even if only for a little while. And while it’s fantastic to have her mom over, I’m talking about also igniting young moms. Mothers that have gone through the same experience within the last five years.
- Take care of yourself. This also sounds obvious, but hear me out. You will be running ragged, adjusting to your new lifestyle. You will be way to tired. But in the middle of all that, you need to make sure to take care of yourself. If you don’t, eventually you won’t have anything to give to your wife and child. Take a short nap when you can. Maybe play your favorite video game for 30 minutes to unwind.
- Talk with wisdom. When you go out in public, a lot of people are going to ask how you are doing. What I would advise is to be careful with whom you share all the details. Obviously I’m not saying put yourself at medical risk by saying nothing. But if you’re having a really hard time and want to talk (yes gentlemen, you can talk with another guy about this), then do it with your very close friends. Go to your pastor, or better yet, invite them over for a brief visit. My point is, if you are having struggles, share it with the people that can actually help, that know you the best, and that truly care for you.
- Have your Quiet Time. Wish I was more consistent with this when our daughter was born, because I felt my need for God more then than I ever have before. You need God, bro. You will totally burn out if you ignore Him. It’s not guaranteed to be easy, but He will give you strength to get through it.
I would highly recommend Pastor James MacDonald’s Act Like Men devotional*. I think it’s the best devotional for men in part because it’s actually written for men. Short chapters, short paragraphs, plenty of examples, and biblical truth that cuts to the heart. Also, it’s 40 days long, so it will get you through the first month and a half of having a newborn.
“If you are having struggles, share it with the people that can actually help, that know you the best, and that truly care for you.”