Baby has been born, mom is well, all is good. Now it’s time to take our newborn home. What?!?! We have to go home? I would rather just stay at the hospital where healthcare professionals can monitor my baby 24 hours a day. I will eat hospital cafeteria food and sleep in a chair indefinitely if you will just take care of my baby a little longer. Please nice nurse…
Not really. But I would be lying if some of those thoughts didn’t cross my mind as we were leaving the hospital after my daughter’s birth.
I remember driving home with my daughter in the car seat, both hands on the wheel, leaning forward, white knuckled, eyes popping out of the sockets, going 20 miles per hour. I was FREAKING OUT!
Do not drive within 50 feet of my car or I will FREAK OUT EVEN MORE!
Also: I will stop at a green light if I want to! It just doesn’t look safe enough to proceed. Stop honking at me, you are making me FREAK OUT!
Well, we made it through the drive home. We walked in the front door, with newborn in baby carrier (whew, got that part right at least). Shut the door. My wife and I looked at each other and the first words out of my mouth were: “Now what?”
I know, not exactly the model of fatherhood I wanted to achieve. So how do you avoid this “deer in the headlights” type of action?
Have a Support Structure
Several weeks before the due date, set up a support structure with family and friends. When we arrived home from the hospital, my in-laws came over and helped us take care of our daughter. My mother also came to town and stayed for a week to help out. Having people you can lean on for support helps tremendously.
If nothing else it is helpful to have someone to vent to or bounce ideas off of. There will be plenty of times that you have no idea what to do and it’s great if someone is available from which to solicit advice (especially if you are on your first child).
The first several weeks after you bring your baby home can be chaotic. Remember to eat, sleep and take care of yourself. Your support structure can also help with this. Line people up to bring meals over to you on certain days. Have grandparents come over and spend the night so you can get some sleep.
Have a Plan
I’m a planning type of guy; I normally don’t like to shoot from the hip. Have a general plan in place 3-4 weeks before the due date, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated, but just a guideline of how things will be handled those first few weeks.
Your plan can include things like:
- Name and phone number of pediatrician.
- Have your car seat installed and understand how it works.
- Sleeping arrangements and schedule.
- Physical layout of the nursery.
- Contact information of people in your support structure.
- First things you need to do when you get home with your newborn (this could be an article in itself).
If you are anything like I was, bringing your baby home will be pretty emotional. Your plan should help give you some guidance when you first walk in the door so you can try to minimize feeling overwhelmed.
This may seem obvious, but I can almost guarantee you that the first time you walk through the front door with your baby, fun won’t be on your mind. You will have a deep sense of responsibility and your fatherly drive to “take care of things” will kick in. Try to relax and enjoy the first few days with your new family member.
The time will fly by and you will wonder what happened to your little newborn baby. Stop to have some fun and enjoy this moment in your life. I also suggest that within 2 weeks of bringing your baby home, schedule a baby sitter and have a little date night with your wife. A few hours away to talk and share each other’s company will lower stress levels.
Also, take a look at the article Top 10 New Dad Essentials for some other ideas on being prepared for the big day.
Most of all don’t freak out!
I write about the rather unexpected journey of fatherhood, please join me!