Top Ten Things I Learned During My First Year of Fatherhood

Being a parent is on-the-job training.  Although I’m not the baby spaz I was when Cristian was born, certain things still make me shake my head.  Last week I read a blog post on Inside Martyns Thoughts, (he’s another Daddy Blogger) about the ten things he wanted to know before he been a parent.  It made me smile.

Although I came into parenthood with open eyes, there was plenty of the unexpected over the past year.  Parents take a look at the list and let know how many you’ve come across or add a few I missed in the comments section.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so here is my Top Ten List of Things I didn’t expect before being a parent.

  • Number 1 -Breastfeeding-I didn’t know some newborn babies have problems breastfeeding, Cristian was one of them. We don’t know if it was the effects of the epidural but it wasn’t automatic.  We tried everything, multiple lactation specialists, bringing a breast pump from home, we even hooked Esther up to an industrial-strength pump, which resembled some of my grandfather’s equipment, he was a commercial dairy farmer.  None of it worked.  When we were home, Cristian got the hang of it.  Maybe all he needed was privacy.
  • The baby bag, your baby's life support system.
    The baby bag, your baby’s life support system.

    Number 2-The Baby Bag-Okay this one might be me bitching and moaning. The baby bag is a parent’s life support system when you are away from home.  Failure to pack diapers, baby wipes or formula will have dire consequences.  Esther packs the bag daily, her unique ability of packing the contents of a one-bedroom apartment into a backpack make her better suited for the task.  My only question is why are the important things like diapers always at the bottom of the bag?  Another question is if this is such a problem, why am I not packing the diaper bag?  Yes this one is me bitching and moaning.

  •  My non-squirming practice doll.
    My non-squirming practice doll.

    Number 3-Squirming Baby on the Changing Table- I knew changing diapers was part of this Dad/Baby thing—I was ok with it.  However, no one mentioned twisting, rolling and squirming on the changing table during the prenatal-parenting classes.  Cristian kicks it up a notch when the changing table is next to a wet counter in a public restaurant.

  • Number 4-Blowouts-Before becoming a parent this was strictly an automotive term, not anymore.  Every parent has experienced one.  Few things can change your mood faster than a blowout. “Why is the back of his onesie muddy? Nooooo!” Two blowouts are memorable. The Mother’s Day blowout in a Cuban Chinese restaurant with the tiny bathroom and no changing table.  The second was the Wake-Up blowout requiring a new cover on his changing table and the crib’s bedding .  Esther and I also needed a shower afterwards.  It got us going faster than a strong cup of coffee.
  • Number 5- Chico’s New Role-Before Cristian was born, Chico was our baby I’ve written about him.  When Esther and I read the newspaper in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, he’d be curled up next to one of us trying to hog the mattress. Chico had a better life than most people, until that baby came along. We still love you Chico, I’m sorry Cristian is getting much of the attention we once gave you.
Hey kid, we gotta talk.
Hey kid, we gotta talk.
  • Number 6 – There Are No Quick Trips to Pick Up Anything For The Baby.-I know this one’s not new, I’ve posted about it here and mentioned it here but it bears repeating. There are no quick trips to Carter’s, Babies R Us, or Bye Bye Baby.  This one may run along gender lines. If you send me to pick up diapers, baby food, and sippy cups the trip takes about 15 or 20 minutes because I’ll pick up diapers, baby food and sippy cups.  When I hear we need to pick up a few things for the baby, I cringe because the trip involves all sorts of detours.  Watching her ooh and ahh looking at baby clothes makes my uterus pinch.  Advice to new Dads, bring a fully-charged tablet and find a comfortable chair where they sell baby furniture, this is going to take a while.
  • Number 7 Prunes- Most parenting books advise introducing babies to solid food at three or four months.  A new fruit or vegetable is introduced for about three days ensuring the baby isn’t allergic to it before moving on to the next one. This is all common sense.  Then there are prunes. Dark, sticky and gooey they look the same in the container as they do in the diaper.  I’ve spent a sleepless night or two wondering about the logic of feeding a baby with a well-functioning digestive system prunes.
  • Number 8-Babies Will Pee On You-It’s not as bad as a blowout but still an eye-opener. Cristian peed on the doctor during his first pediatrician appointment.  After a year, I’m pretty good at dodging the spray, but Cristian still laughs knowing Daddy is going to have to change the cover on the changing table.
  • Father son napNumber 9 -There is no Rhyme or Reason to a Baby’s Sleeping Habits-File this one under should have known better. We had established a routine at about five months of feed, bathe, bottle, bedtime and Cristian would sleep from about 10 pm until about 5 am.  Esther and I thought we had this sleep thing under control. Then his sleep pattern changed.  He’s now up once or twice a night, sitting in his crib like a Baby Buddha waiting for a bottle.
  • Number 10--Competitive Parents-I’ve been around a lot of babies in the past year.  Our building welcomed five and our family and friends had six more. That’s a lot of babies. Parents compare notes.  It’s harmless at first, checking on eating and sleeping patterns. Little by little, it gets competitive.  Your baby has two teeth, mine has eight. Yours started crawling; mine walks around the block.  I’m waiting for the inevitable, yours isn’t toilet trained yet?  Ours was toilet trained months ago, and now he’s training others. It’s not a competition. Let’s all take a breath or maybe a nap. Your child is as special to you as mine is to me there’s no need to be competitive.
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Time Waits For No Baby

Oct Baby NapI haven’t posted much, only five times in the past four months since I recapped Cristian’s first six months.  Since then his sleep patterns are all over the place, he still draws attractive women like a magnet, and trips to Carter’s or Buy Buy Baby have me wishing for my next prostate exam.

Cristian bears little resemblance to the baby we brought home from the hospital.  Back then he spent most of the day napping in his Moses Basket while we took turns feeding and changing him and watching lots of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

Time stands still for no baby, our bedroom is full of bins of clothes he’s grown out of and although I haven’t posted Cristian’s been hitting his developmental milestones.    We’ve gone from tummy time and mini pushups to babbling and rolling.   Now he’s crawling and figuring out that walking thing.  Crawling was a game changer.

At this moment, I knew things were going to change quickly
At this moment, I knew things were going to change quickly

Crawling led to baby proofing and reconfiguring our living room.  This time it served a purpose, instead of Esther saying—let’s try the couch over there.   The couch covered electric sockets and cords and moving the recliner and placing a storage ottoman on the other side created the Cristian Zone.

FullSizeRender (57)Chico enters the Cristian Zone at his own risk.   While the baby crawls, plays and grabs furniture he also keeps an eye out for an active baby looking to grab his tail or an ear.  Chico and I both agree it was easier to watch the baby when he was younger.  Those were the days—he sat in his chair or played in his swing watching Sid the Science Kid or Sesame Street.  Elmo rocks!

Crawling Cristian requires more attention.  His natural curiosity gets him into all sorts of mischief, crawling under tables, pulling up on the furniture and grabbing anything within reach.  He’s found things I haven’t seen in months.  I’m convinced if you let a team of babies loose in the Meadowlands parking lot, they will find Jimmy Hoffa.

My son is growing fast, and although it’s brought new challenges, I’ve enjoyed watching his personality develop, even if it means new levels of childproofing.  I knew it would be challenging when I signed up for this and will have it no other way.

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Parenthood – The First Six Months

In his bassinet in the hospital
In his bassinet in the hospital
One Month Old visting Grandma
One Month Old visting Grandma

Has it been six months already?  I can’t believe it went by so quickly.  It was only yesterday that Cristian was born or if you want the complete story start here.

I’ve enjoyed being a parent but I’m still learning—I’ve only been on the job six months.  I thought about filling out a self-evaluation form like you do at work, but Cristian’s reading and writing skills are still non-existent so that will have to wait.  Esther hasn’t gotten him back with any new dings or dents so I guess that’s something.

I’ve learned a lot since Cristian came home from the hospital, some things were common sense and others were on the job training.  Through it all Esther and I still look at each other in amazement unable to believe this adorable baby is ours.

Two Months Old - Cristian about to find out what happens when an old man tells you to "Pull My FInger."
Two Months Old – Cristian about to find out what happens when an old man tells you to “Pull My FInger.”

Here are a few highlights of what I’ve learned:

  • My Son The Diva-Cristian chose his first pediatrician appointment to get the hang of breastfeeding, making the doctor wait while he gave Esther privacy. He then peed on the doctor during the examination.  The doctor, an old pro, avoided most of the spray impressing me with how fast he could move.  I’ll say this for the kid, you gotta admire his spunk.
Three Months - Quality Time with Mommy
Three Months – Quality Time with Mommy
  • Don’t Ask Me How He’s Sleeping-Cristian sleeps well, but it took him a few months to get the hang of it.  He usually sleeps from 10pm until about 5am except when someone asks how’s he sleeping? That phrase usually upsets the balance as well as his and our sleep patterns, for about three or four days.  I know your curious but please don’t ask anymore, a good night sleep depends on it.
  • There Is Never A Quick Trip to Pick Up Something For The Baby-I quickly learned when Esther said let’s make a quick trip to Buy Buy Baby or Carters to pick up something for the baby, we were going be there awhile.  I have a bag for those trips packed with water, snacks and my tablet in it.  Esther knows she can find me sitting in a chair in the baby furniture area while she shops.
Four Months - Smiling at Daddy before his baptism - Photo Rose Marie Santiago
Four Months – Smiling at Daddy before his baptism – Photo Rose Marie Santiago
  • My Son The Chic Magnet-I always knew babies drew attention, just not how much.  Cristian is magnet puling in good looking women within a five-mile radius towards him.  Of course I’m a happily-married man who doesn’t notice these things.  I thought Chico was good but this is unreal.
  • My Son The Peacemaker-Since Cristian was born we’ve see relatives we haven’t seen in years. He’s also helped us bridge the gap with the strange neighbor down the hall.  The one who never speaks but gives you the odd look when you pass her in the hallway.  She now says hello and sings to Cristian in two languages.  Go figure.
Five Months - Dressed for St. Patrick's Day
Five Months – Dressed for St. Patrick’s Day
  • My Son Likes Busty Blondes-Who can blame him? I got a kick out of watching it when friends stopped by the see the baby, when he was breast-feeding.  Cristian zoned in on their boobs.  His eyes lit up when a very well-endowed blonde friend visited.  He made his father proud.

I’ve learned a lot watching my son grow from a fragile newborn to a cute chubby-cheeked baby he is now.  His smiling face every morning makes me forget the sacrifices and the sleep deprivation.  Going forward I’m excited and a little scared of what lays ahead, but that’s okay, I’ve been a little afraid of every important decision I’ve made and more often than not, they turned out fine.

Six Months Old Today!
Six Months Old Today!
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