My daughter is now two months old. In the last 60 days, I’ve watched her progress from a crying, pooping potato into a smiling (crying, pooping) little person. We survived the hardest couple of months. While it’s still dentist-visit level of stressful, it’s getting better.
I just want every new dad struggling through the first leg of this journey to know it gets better. With every midnight bottle, 4 a.m. diaper, and post-dinner spit-up, your baby makes progress.
It might seem like the crying will never end, but it will. It might feel like the nights are never-ending and you will never catch up on sleep, but you will. It might feel like your baby is going to stay small enough that you can cradle them in one arm forever—but they won’t. I want every new dad to know it’s okay to loathe the long nights, but do your best to savor the short days. As sure as summer breeze turns to brown leaves on the sidewalk, holding your newborn will become a memory. Savor it.
Bonding as a New Dad
I know some dads (and moms) who have difficulty bonding with their newborn. Unless you’re lucky enough to have paternity leave or be a work-from-home dad, we’re usually back to the grind within a week. We can’t bond through breastfeeding. We can’t spend all the time we want with our new baby. So what can we do?
If your partner is pumping milk or you’re using formula, take as many opportunities as you can to feed your baby. Talk to her and hold her tight. Even if her only response is to spit milk all over your face and her neck-folds, it’s still a worthwhile conversation. I started playing guitar for our first daughter and wrote a song for her around the 2-3 month mark. She’s still my biggest (only) fan, and to this day she’ll break out in dance if I play for her. As they grow, your interests become theirs. Stay engaged and get creative, and you’ll bond in no time.
The Memories are For You
I’m frugal (also known as a cheap-ass) and when my partner suggested we get pictures taken at the hospital, I was hesitant. She, thankfully, talked me into it. We’ll never get those first days back, so capturing them was priceless. In the first few years of your child’s life, they aren’t going to remember those trips to the petting zoo, the park, or those Wednesday-night visits to Grandma’s—but you will. You’ll remember them, and they’ll remind you that becoming a dad is the best thing you’ve ever done.
Be Aware of Post-Partum Depression
Unfortunately, the incredible highs of parenting come with extreme lows, and they’re not talked about often enough. There’s a thin line between sleep deprivation and depression, and it’s hard to tell when you’ve crossed it. If your partner has a history of depression, try to be there for her as often as you can and keep open communication. It’s very easy for someone to keep post-partum depression to themselves, and in my experience, doctors do a poor job of following up with mothers who may be suffering. If your partner has thoughts of harming herself or others, difficulty bonding with the baby, intense irritability or anger, coupled with fears of being a bad mother, post-partum depression is a likely cause.
It’s very common to feel depressed as a new mom or even a new dad when your baby is around the 2-month mark. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help or talking about it with friends or family. You’re not the only one who has gone through it. More and more research is being done on paternal depression. Factors such as lack of intimacy, feelings of exclusion, lack of social support, difficulty bonding with your baby, and depression in your partner have shown to increase its likelihood. If either of you feel off, don’t be afraid to get help.
Missed the other months? If you’re new to fatherhood, there’s no judgment here. You can find the previous month here:
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