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There are some things that most people don’t talk about, especially first-time dads who aren’t sure what to ask or feel or think in the time leading up to opening day of their fatherhood career. Here’s a handful of things that I realized after the fact that I wish I knew ahead of time.

At some point, you’ll feel helpless during delivery.

On top of being a control freak I don’t like to see my wife suffer. I did my part in laboring with her for most of the time but once it’s time to push I was nudged to the side and forced to watch from the sideline. It’s loud, it’s messy and you can’t do anything but watch and wait.

Ready or not, you’re going to have to be social.

Now that we have a little human that wants to run and play and be outside, I’m stuck talking to people and parents that historically I would’ve avoided at all costs. Most are nice and friendly but I’m still anxious and afraid.

There’s this thing that happens called “tearing”.

Maybe your pregnant partner has already expressed her fears about this but if not, find the time to ask her. We got very lucky and there was no tearing but even just typing this out I get a little queasy.

Get the draino ready!

So after the baby is born it’s common for women to lose the beautiful, full hair they were blessed with during pregnancy. In our case, it was EVERYWHERE. I was wiping chunks off of the shower walls and constantly had to clean out the drain.

You might have to help put diapers on your baby partner.

Changing your newborns poopy diaper should only be half your concern. For days after delivery, you might need to help clean blood off her thighs and make sure her adult diaper is snug and fit.

She might break some blood vessels.

Not sure how often this happens to women giving birth but my partner broke a ton of blood vessels on her face and neck. I don’t think it’s anything dangerous and it kind of looks badass but it’s something that can surely catch you off guard.

The nurses and doctors don’t always care what you want.

We were lucky to have a doula by ourside and a midwife running the point for most of our time in the hospital but that didn’t mean everyone was on our side. One nurse told my wife she couldn’t eat until the baby came and 10 hours later the midwife raised hell. Another doctor broke my wife’s heart by commenting that “not everyone is cut out for breastfeeding.” Make sure you are ready to stand your ground and defend whatever matters most to you.

Specialists have no bed-side manners.

After spending 3 weeks in the NICU, we encountered a fair share of high-dollar lab coats that were undoubtedly intelligent but sorely lacking in the human emotion department. I tried not to hold it against them but it really upset my wife and we found ourselves dodging certain people and constantly complaining about others.

Sometimes the non-birthing partner is invisible.

There was a few times during our 35 hour labor where I felt invisible. I get that during the final pushes they don’t want me in the way and it’s better that way. But a few times during the marathon a shift rotation might bring in a new nurse that assumes you are a typical hands-off, grossed out dad. I’m very hands-on and after 24 hours of emotional and physical output I was ready to dropkick someone for not making eye contact with me as they explained our options. There’s no way they didn’t feel my glare or smell my stench.

Skin to skin with dad is important too!

There’s lots of talk of the importance of skin to skin for the relationship of mom and child and that can’t be denied. Just make sure you get in on the fun. I spent lots of time in the NICU with my little wrapped up inside my flannel and each time we were chest to chest I felt more connected to my new best friend.

You might end up with a target on your head.

I guess this is the “this is all your fault!” condemnation. It was a little different for us but it happened after birth when we were run down and ragged. We argued (a lot) about nothing at all. I don’t blame her as I know I was at fault as well, we were both looking for an outlet for everything that didn’t go as planned. Just know it happens, don’t say anything you will regret and be patient as the dust settles.

The “Ring of Fire”

Similar to tearing, this is something the dads will never have to experience in the flesh. As the story goes, as the head is coming out there is a pinnacle moment of pain that is referred to as the “ring of fire”. You are supposed to be scared of it and I’m sure it’s worthy of its name so be careful if you decide to put on some Johnny Cash in the months after delivery.

The placenta is super cool.

Seriously, this is the organ attached to the other end of the umbilical cord that has helped your partner grow a human inside of her. It’s big and bloody and quite incredible. Both my wife and I poked around at it and even asked some questions of the medical experts around us. People also cook/encapsulate the placenta (jerky anyone?) as it’s loaded with super nutrients and other good stuff. If you happen to find it in front of you be sure to check it out!

Very few people will come and visit.

Depending on how old you are and how close you are to certain people, you can count on most of them not coming to visit. Most of our friends with kids were quick to drop off food or stop by to help us clean the damn dishes but a large majority of people didn’t come near. I don’t know why and I won’t point fingers but prepare for the distance and insulate your closest friendships.

Get a slow cooker!

Our crock pot is one of the most value kitchen tools we’ve used since becoming parents. You are able to prep gallon size bags of hearty and healthy ingredients and then throw the contents into the slow cooker when/if you make it to the kitchen in the morning. 8 hours later, enjoy. Cleaning the glass portion of the cooker is easy and awesome.

The medical bills will keep coming for months and months.

I did my best to stay on top of all our bills and claims and appointments but I was still getting invoices for things 12 months later. Maybe that’s on me or maybe it’s just an archaic billing process but every time I thought we were in the clear another $40 bill showed up.

What did I miss? Is there anything that completely blindsided you?