Think of the 9 months as a marathon and not a 5k race: slow and steady is better than an all out sprint. It is very common once you hear the news to go into overdrive because there are so many things thrown at you: birthing classes, baby registry, getting the room ready, etc. I find it useful to not get overexcited and keep my emotions in check so I don’t burn out. Make a list of things that you want to accomplish over the 9 month period, go through each one at a time, and make sure you spread them out and not try to complete everything in the first month.
Get yourself ready for change. I don’t want this to scare all the new dads out there, but having a baby in your life means change, plain and simple. For me, I had to accept the changes that were happening and not try to fight or reject them, which was very difficult. Before having my first child, my wife and I would hit the gym together every morning before work. Once our daughter was born, we still hit the gym, but not together. We staggered our times so someone could be home with the baby. While that might seem like a minor change, the idea of change can be difficult to some new dads, including myself. Remember, change is going to happen regardless of what we do. It’s better for everyone to accept and adapt to the change.
The “scariest” moment? There is a lot of debate out there about this, but for me, it was the ride home from the hospital. I kept on looking in the rear view mirror at the little mirror on top of my daughter’s car seat (yes, we got yelled at about that from the hospital staff!) making sure she was ok. I just could not get over othe fact that the little one in the back of my car was mine. They let me take her home! Best piece of advice: drive like you normally do. While I made sure I made a full and complete stop at stop signs and yields, I did not try to drive really slow or over cautious. That can cause an accident just as easily as driving recklessly.
Never worry about holding your baby “too much.” My wife and I held our babies during their nap times for the first 2 years of their life and I am happy to say that they are turning out just fine. Each child is different and a good rule of thumb is responds to the needs of the child. Our children loved to be held and there is nothing in this world better than holding a sleeping baby!
Last but not least, your child and wife will take cues from how you react to situations. Fun and unexpected things will happen and if you react with calm and a smile, people around you will react the same. When the craziness starts and the adventure begins, I have always found that putting a smile on my face and using lite humor to defuse a situation was better than going along with the bandwagon and losing my mind! These two people are going to look at you for support and even though you don’t know all the answers, remaking calm and being supportive goes a long way.