Friday, October 3, 2008

Be Prepared -- The Motto of a True Scout

Since the news was literally put in my lap that we were having a baby (by way of the positive home pregnancy test being tossed at me), I've been reading as much material about what's to come as I can get my hands on. Actually, I started reading Neal Pollack's Alternadad in May, a couple weeks before the news hit, as if I knew what was coming. But once the news did come I started reading this sort of material in earnest, needing to know my place and responsibilities in this "journey" of parenthood.

The first book I completed, after Alternadad was Dad's Pregnant, Too, which was a list of tips for expectant fathers on what's to come, how to react, and how to treat the pregnant mother throughout the pregnancy. The bottom line of the book seemed to be: Keep her happy! The more comfortable you can keep the mother of your child, the easier the nine months will go by. While I feel I'm doing an okay job at this, there are parts of pregnancy that still bug me (like the gas, e.g.). But because of the book, I knew it was coming, so I'm thankful (for the book, not the gas).

I enjoyed this book because I knew when my wife felt pains or had other symptoms conducive to pregnancy, I knew not to overreact. I could assure her that she and the baby was more than likely doing fine, and the little things cropping up were all normal. The book also showed and explained what changes the baby was going through, and its amazing development inside her belly. Knowing what to expect, along with going to her doctor appointments, has really put me at ease since all signs point to a healthy baby.

I also signed up for two newsletters from the website that also runs through the steps of development, as well as helpful tips for coping with the changing pregnant body (mostly geared towards women, but informative). I often read interesting tidbits that I forward to my wife, or I read things that we have already gotten to or done. This is great because it shows we're staying on top of things and preparing well. At the same time I signed up for the newsletter I started reading dad blogs, trying to get at what my place was in all this, and if the sudden apprehension I was feeling was normal. Realizing there was a large community out there with guys like me was comforting, and prompted me to start this site and share my feelings in the hopes of showing even newer dads that we're all in the same boat. I've learned a ton from these guys and have gotten really good feedback from them about my experiences so far.

At the moment I am kind of in a reading frenzy, reading one book on colic while commuting on the train for work, another book about baby's first year at home, as well as a plethora of baby magazines that are showing up at our house. My wife laughs at me because I try and "steal" the magazines from her before she's even finished with them. Like the newsletters, they are geared towards women, which is a shame given the dad's bigger role in child raising, but often informative. With the help of these magazines, I feel I know better what's out there for babies, like the different choices of baby bottles.

The colic book is really interesting, called The Happiest Baby on the Block, which was recommended by the writer of Dad's Pregnant Too. It's a huge concern to me about getting through those first few months after the birth, trying to get the baby used to being out in the world. Most get through it okay but there's a percentage that have a hard time of it. Reading this book is showing how important it is to make the baby as comfortable and nurtured as possible to avoid colic and create the close bond needed to show we will always be there for him.

I like the baby's first year book (part of the What to Expect When You're Pregnant series) because it goes through the steps to caring for the child properly, like holding, moving, feeding and cleaning. These are skills I never aquired in my life since my family had no babies in it. Only recently, because of my wife's family and our collective friends, have I been exposed to infants and toddlers. I still haven't ever changed a diaper but I feel a lot more comfortable holding and being around children. Handling my own child will be a lot different, I'm sure, but at least I've gotten some exposure and know to just be myself with them.

All this reading has opened my eyes to the world I've entered just by getting my wife pregnant. There's a lot to know but even more to really experience. I won't claim to be an expert of child rearing by the time our son arrives but at least I can say I'm aware of what could happen. I haven't taken most things in my life too seriously, but this I'd like to get right. Of course I know you can get everything from books (or the classes we'll be attending), but being prepared has become very important to me.

I would love to hear some feedback about resources you used before or after birth. At the rate I'm going, I have at least 3-4 more books I can get through!

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