Eight weeks ago, Dessa arrived, turning our family of two into a family of three. And, I must say, after eight weeks, I’m slowly getting the hang of this whole fatherhood thing. Some parts, like the late night feedings, were expected. Others were not things I anticipated, like how little those late night feedings bother me. Now that I’ve had those eight weeks (man, it’s been a long time since I wrote a post), I really wanted to get on the blog and share my experience with you, our wonderful readers.
Wow, Lots of Emotions
So, I guess it’s not very surprising that there are a whole lot of very different emotions churning around when you have a baby. During the pregnancy, there was always the constant, low-grade worrying about the baby’s health, Maria’s health and possible complications during delivery. This was followed by the sheer boredom of sitting around the hospital for three days with very little progress made toward delivery.
Then the exhilaration of delivery starting.
Then concern and worry when things didn’t go exactly as planned.
The joy of learning that we had a healthy daughter.
Then the frustration when breastfeeding Dessa didn’t go as well as we’d hoped.
Then the exhaustion of running on very little sleep and trying to get so much done when we got home … followed quickly by one of the worst, most tense moments of our marriage.
And all that was in about one week.
After that, there have been so many emotions and states of being. Tiredness from late nights (I can’t really say exhaustion as Dessa is a pretty decent sleeper, much to our delight). Awe as she rapidly develops: tracking movements with her eyes and smiling and cooing and so many other things that she couldn’t do just a day before. Frustration as, on the very rare occasion, she just doesn’t stop crying even though you’ve fed her and changed her and are bouncing and shushing her like it said in the book and the video. And wonder just looking at her sleeping face.
On top of all my emotions, Maria had a few hard times that I struggled to find ways to support her through. It’s really hard to know that you can’t simply remove the obstacles that your wife faces and that what she really needs is for you to just hold her, listen to her, and occasionally surprise her by leaving a loving note or bringing home some flowers.
Oh, How I Wish I Had More Time at Home
I want to be home a lot more. I so wish I had been able to take more than a week off at work to be at home with Maria and Dessa, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I just love my family more and having more time with them is my top priority, always.
In addition to wanting more days to be with my family, I now find myself heading home as early as I possibly can. Nowadays, I generally leave the office about an hour earlier than I did pre-Dessa. I want to be home to maximize the time with my baby before we lay her down to sleep around 9 p.m.
Who Knew Getting Up at 3:30 AM Wouldn’t Be So Bad?
Fun fact: I love sleep. Like, love it. Growing up, my family would regularly sleep till noon on the weekend. My parents still do. (I know, my family is a little weird.) So I was kind of dreading having to get up in the middle of the night for feedings and diaper changes.
Shockingly, it’s not that bad. I might find it hard to get out of bed at first, but once I have Dessa in my arms, that feeling quickly fades and I have no problem spending some time with her. Out of everything I’ve been experiencing as a father, this one surprised me the most. I’m totally sure that Dessa’s great sleep habits make this so much easier. She generally sleeps 3-4 hours at a stretch and is usually only up for an hour or so. We’ve actually had a few 6+ hour stretches, but those were after she was particularly fussy or a particularly long day. You’ll have to ask me again how I feel about this when we’ve had a sleepless night or two.
Holy Crap, I’m Raising a Girl
I mean, I knew this was a possibility. About a 50% chance, to be honest. (Get it?!) I’m not so worried about doing her hair, helping her pick out outfits, and other traditionally girl-type things. I can do that already, or at least pick it up as I go.
No, I’m worried about raising a smart, strong, independent girl who will have to face challenges and situations I’ve never encountered or even thought about. Men and women can have some very different experiences in our society and, you might have noticed, I’m a guy. Women have to face a lot of things that men never do. And I want to equip Dessa to be able to handle those challenges head-on.
I Have a Whole New Generation to Teach Nerdy Things To!
I fully intend to introduce Dessa to all the dorky things that I love. I can’t wait till she’s old enough so we can watch Star Wars and I can film her reaction when she learns that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. I want to instill my absolute obsession with reading into her (I’ll understand if she doesn’t read sci-fi as much as I do, but I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t have a book nearby at all times). I can’t wait to start playing video games with her, like Super Mario and so many other fun, kid-friendly games. I know this part is a long way off, but it will still be really fun when we get to it.
But What About All the Stuff you Don’t Have Time for Anymore?
Honestly? I don’t miss it as much as you’d think. First of all, about the only thing I’m “missing out on” is time for video games. But I haven’t played video games for more than an hour or so at a given time in years. And, I still find some time for them. Just not as often.
And as far as reading, I’m probably actually reading more than I was before Dessa arrived. I already do most of my “reading” on audiobooks during my commute. But now I’m actually reading more on my Kindle as I rock Dessa back to sleep at night.
I do have a lot less “down time” where I would just aimlessly browse the internet and things like that. But why would I miss that? I get to spend that time with my baby. That’s way better than Reddit.
So, that’s my experience of fatherhood so far. I know there’s a heck of a lot more to come. Maria and I have a whole long journey ahead of us with Dessa and I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s in store.
I love hearing your perspective on this, Gavin and I’m sure it’s much like my own husband’s experience (even down to him wanting to play Super Mario with her and carry on his love of Star Wars!). We too had a difficult delivery (but thankfully a healthy baby), trouble breastfeeding (now exclusively pumping), and those intense moments that tested the strength of our marriage. It’s hard, but it’s worth it and like you, waking up at night is no fun, but when it’s for the right reason, you really don’t mind. We lucked out with a great night sleeper as well and are hoping that never changes! So sorry to hear that you didn’t get more than a week at home. Paternity leaves never seem to be long enough. I’ve been fortunate to have my husband with me for two months now and another month later in the year. I wish more companies followed suit. It’s not only a benefit to fathers, but incredibly helpful to new moms!
Rob Gavin says
Congratulations! Having Dessa sleep through almost all the night is wonderful, I must say. It’s been trying at times, but she is such a wonderful baby almost all the time. And I am jealous of you husband getting to be home so much. Treasure it!
I think it is really sad that men have to go through the guilt of being with their family after a child is born! My husband went through the same thing with all three of our boys. I tease him that I accommodated him because I had two of our boys over holidays (Memorial & Labor Day) so he could at least take a day off, ha :) Keep these posts coming. Loved reading it!
Rob Gavin says
Thanks! We’re getting into the groove with our new routine, so I think we’ll be able to post more regularly (or at least I will, since I’ve been the most inconsistent). And when it comes to being home, we just do the best we can and hope it works out in the end.
Aunt Phillie says
Rob, it looks like you have a Wonderful start with Dessa. Hands on like you are now will even stick with her in years ahead. Baby’s just catch on pretty quickly with the voice, handling them & how safe it makes them feel. Such a Great post. Thank you for all the Good pictures and the faithful words.
Rob Gavin says
Thanks, Aunt Phillie! It’s crazy how quickly she picks things up. She’s smiling so much more now and definitely keeps track of Maria and I when we’re in the room with her. It’s incredible.
These pictures are the cutest thing. I’m so happy for you guys. You will never ever regret taking as much time as possible to be with your daughter. They stay tiny for such a short time (which you don’t expect!) My husband, due to his work schedule, was able to be with our daughter during the day after I had to return to work and they still have such a close and special relationship. One of the best things you can do to be a great Dad of a daughter is to love her Mom and make sure she sees how good men treat women. Also, continue to be playful and affectionate when your daughter reaches the challenging tween and teen years and continue to tell her you are proud of her and that she’s beautiful. Kids can be so demoralized by their peers at that age that they really need all the positive feedback they can get at home.
Rob Gavin says
That’s great advice, Laura, thank you! I’m sure things will work out great in the end, but doesn’t mean we don’t worry, huh? Haha!
Wonderful pictures! Enjoyed hearing about your new life from Daddy’s perspective.