How has the journey to fatherhood been for you so far?
It’s actually been a pretty bumpy ride! We’ve faced some pregnancy-related health challenges and scares that have been great sources of stress, even though I know they are just the tip of the iceberg compared to what some people experience. I’ve come to realize how incredibly common it is to have challenges like ours (and other kinds), and it was so helpful to us to hear that from others. Of course, it has also been really exciting, and something my wife and I have looked forward to for years. She’s due this weekend, and as the anticipation ramps up, we’re already starting to forget about all the hard stuff!
What have you done to prepare for the baby’s arrival?
My wife and I took Champions’ Newborn Care class, as well as a childbirth class and a breastfeeding class that we were required to do at our birth center (otherwise we’d have gone CFC all the way, which of course I recommend for everyone!). We also watched a multi-hour online series on hypno-birthing, which is less crunchy than it sounds. For my dad-specific duties, I read “The Birth Partner” by Penny Simon and took Champions’ Boot Camp for New Dads workshop. The most “nesting” thing I’ve done is put together the nursery, which looks very Florida, and I love it. We hang out in there as much as we can. Last, but not least, I’ve really made a point to talk to friends and family as much as possible about the baby, just like I would any other big thing in life. Having a baby is exciting, but can be an isolating experience if you don’t invite people in, so we’ve been trying to be intentional about building our “village” early.
Since taking those classes at Champions, on a scale from 1-10, how prepared do you feel for the baby’s arrival (10 being the most prepared)?
Wow, why do I feel so much pressure to say “10”? Kidding, sort of. I’ll say an 8 or a 9. With the Champions classes and all the tidbits I’ve picked up from my amazing colleagues over four years of working here, I feel like I have all the knowledge I need to be successful in the first days, and I know who to call if I find I’ve forgotten or don’t understand something. I think I’ll feel more like a 10 once the baby is born and I’m able to actually practice all the great stuff I’ve learned, and I think that’s both OK and normal. An important point, though: it’s not just the Champions services we’ve used already, but the ones we know are available that contribute to feeling prepared. We definitely anticipate an early visit or two to Baby Café at Layla’s House, and taking advantage of special workshops like Infant Massage and parenting groups, among other things.
What are you most looking forward to about becoming a dad?
I’m looking forward to co-parenting with my wife. We have a lot of admiration for each other and feel excited and proud when we imagine witnessing the other one being a parent to our first baby. That, and of course we just can’t wait to meet the baby!
What are you most nervous about in becoming a dad?
It’s such a big life change and so unknowable until it happens. I suppose I’m anxious to see how we do at maintaining our own self-care, work-life balance, other relationships, etc., which are all such an important part of parenting. Happy parents, happy baby!
If you could give one piece of advice to parents-to-be like you, what would it be?
This goes back to my first answer, but seek confirmation that anything you’re going through on your journey to having your first baby is normal, because it probably is. During an early scare in our pregnancy that turned out to be fine, my wife and I were feeling stressed that we were “in a cave” where we couldn’t talk to anyone about our fears, concerns, or stress. Then, one day, someone asked us an astonishingly simple question: why be in a cave? Why not call friends or family? Sure, it can feel vulnerable to bring these things up, but literally every time I did I found out someone I knew had a similar experience. Those types of conversations were among the single most valuable resources we had available to us during the more stressful parts of the last nine months.
Last, but not least, we are pretty darn lucky to have access to all that Champions has to offer. Everyone has different strengths and therefore different needs, so what we use may be different from what someone else uses, but what’s great about Champions is there’s really something for everyone and it’s all free.
When you have knowledge on parenting and support, you are more likely to engage in positive parenting practices. As Jonathan mentioned, it takes a village to raise a child. Concrete support from family, friends and even community organizations is vital to the mental health and stability of parents and children. We are so proud to be able to offer resources to new and experienced parents to ensure they are supported in their roles. Don’t forget, Champions’ Parent Warm line is just a phone call away. Our parenting experts will answer your questions, share advice, help you enroll in our programs, or connect you hassle-free to someone who can. For personalized parenting support at no cost, give us a call: (813) 673-4646 x7.