Dads Helping Dads Figure Out Being a Dad

We are wondrously made: reflections on pregnancy and the first week with baby

Why does it take so bloody long for the baby to come?

9 months, 40 weeks, 280 days.

Other mammals have far shorter gestation periods than humans.  Sure, some parts of our internal systems are more complex, but 9 months?

I remember around month 7 realizing that this long gestation period wasn’t for the baby — it was for us, the parents.  I think it was around the time we got the infant seat for the car.  As I sat and stared at it, thinking that I should get it out of the living room and installed in the car, I realized that the mental processes required to get from “We’re pregnant!” to “We’re parents!” required at least 9 months.  It’s easy to buy the infant seat — it’s far more difficult to get used to the idea of it being in your car!

As we walked into the hospital to induce labor, I was ready to be a dad.  I had done my time in purgatory (pregnancy) waiting for the little one to come.  I had considered many of the ways that my life was going to change.  I knew that those 9 months were as much for me as for the baby.

Connor arrived at 4:41 pm.  Mom was exhausted after having contractions for over 12 hours.  Even so, she happily took all of the visitors who came to welcome Connor into this world!  Connor, on the other hand, cried for the first 5 hours of his life.  We put him to bed around 1, with a clean diaper and full stomach.  With the exception of one little cry, he slept until the nurses came to do a blood draw at 6 am.  After a change and feeding, he slept again until the pediatrician came to see him at 9:30 am.

The entire first week, he does very little but eat, sleep, dirty his diaper and cry. From what everyone has indicated, the first few weeks are easier than what comes next.  Our design allows for a couple of weeks just after birth for the parents to figure out the baby a little bit, but also to catch up on sleep (even if it is in the form of naps) to recover from the delivery.

Each stage of the child’s development is as necessary for the parents as for the children.  During the first weeks, we develop a rhythm, learning what the cries mean and getting familiar with the reflexes that we have read about, but aren’t used to seeing.  But can you imagine having a baby, born into the terrible two’s stage?  You wouldn’t have had time to learn the child’s personality, sounds or cries.  They would not have developed a bond with you.  In short, the mortality rate on babies would likely go up due to the pure frustration of parents trying to learn two years worth of information all at once!

As frustrating as it may be at times, thank God for the ‘long’ gestation and seemingly slow development.  We are better parents because of it, and our children are better off as a result.

Category: Life
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