Three days before my wife was scheduled to give birth to our little boy, Declan, I was doing some yard work and ran into my next door neighbor. After some small talk, he asked me if I was ready for the baby. Of all the responses he could have given to my answer, the one I was met with was the last one I expected.
A little background…
I’m the guy that researches the hell out of something before I actually do it. Call it paranoia, call it preparedness, or call it crazy, it’s how I roll. So of course, when my wife and I found out we were pregnant I read everything I could get my hands on that was related to pregnancy, childbirth, and whatever came afterwards. I realized there were two basic genres of baby-books; those written for women, and those written for men.
Baby books geared toward women tend to be of a softer and more detailed nature then the man-focused ones. They explain in great depth what’s happening in the womb and how those changes are affecting everything else. While this is fascinating stuff, I found myself replacing the text with “blah blah blah” simply because I do have things to do and would rather learn about being a great dad rather than the inner workings of my wife. I know the basics, I don’t need explicit detail.
The majority of baby books geared toward men try to mirror a discussion that two guys might have in a bar right before they do a row of jaeger shots and throw money at strippers. I found very little useful substance in these books although they did provide a number of good laughs. Buying these books will impress your wife since she’ll think you’re taking an interest in the pregnancy, but for the most part don’t follow a damn bit of advice they give you.The majority of baby books geared toward men try to mirror a discussion that two guys might have in a bar right before they do a row of jaeger shots and throw money at strippers.
To continue my story from earlier, the question my neighbor asked me was if I was ready to be a dad. My (cocky) reply was along the lines of “Oh yeah I’ve read a ton of books, practiced my diapering skills (on our Chihuahua, I’ll tell that story some other time), and purchased everything that’s recommended for newborns. I was expecting him to nod his head in approval and tell me I’d done a good job preparing but instead he started laughing. This wasn’t like a chuckle or a guffaw, this was straight up side-splitting, tear jerking, knee slapping, can’t breathe type of laughing. He didn’t say another word to me, simply collected his mail and walked back into his house. Laughing the entire time. I just stood there with my hedge trimmer in my head wondering whether I had screwed something up or if he had decided to lose his mind right then and there.
Before we took Declan home I realized that everything I had read was crap. None of the descriptions about childbirth, sleeping, eating, etc… were close to what I had experienced. As far as I was concerned, each of the authors whose book I had read lived in some type of fantasy land. The worst thing happened when I asked the nurses about why my child wasn’t doing what he “should” be doing, I instantly knew I had become “the annoying parent that thought they knew everything because they’d read a book” so I shut up.
I’ve determined that there are only two sources for realistic child rearing information. The best part is that they’re both free. The first is of course the internet. It provides tons of information on virtually every topic, even the ones that you think are solely unique to you. Unfortunately, this is both a curse and a blessing depending on how the info is delivered and how you perceive it. Accept the fact that you will see conflicting stories and opinions on every topic you search for. Follow the “majority rules” approach if most of the articles, blogs, or forums align with each other. Unless it’s a life threatening condition then I’m down with the masses.
The second source is everyone with kids slightly older than yours. It’s better if they’re your friends because they’ll be less likely to sugar coat things. On the subject of childbirth, I got the real story from my old college roommate who has a 4 year old and a 1 year old. He flat out said that I will see bodily fluids that aren’t supposed to be seen while a small misshapen human pops out of the holiest of holies. That’s something I didn’t see in any book but was the best piece of advice to prepare me for the actual event.
You may have noticed that I didn’t list my parents as a source of information. Much as I love my dear old mom and dad, there may be things they did during my infancy which aren’t done 34 years later. I’ll take their advice with a grain of salt until I have a chance to determine if it’s still relevant or outdated.
My advice to anyone reading this though, read a baby book or two just to find out how pregnancy and child rearing work in a fictional world. Then go and talk to your friends about their real-life experiences. Odds are good that you’ll have more questions and for these you should hit the web and do your research.
Image Credit: Jon Mick