Coincidentally, the theme of these last few posts have been about impromptu dates with my girls. It seems like it’s been happening a lot more frequently to me these days. To my (pleasant) surprise, I did have an impromptu date of another kind — this time with my husband.
One night last week after the kids went to bed, we walked down the road for a late dinner. Well…. okay. It was an excuse to get out of the house, because we had to “prep” for the talk we were going to give to soon-to-be Moms and Dads. Janice had invited us to give a testimonial at Pregnant Pause 4, held last Saturday at the newly renovated Babyland Shaw branch.(Incidentally — Babyland also carries Two Tots items such as sleep sacks, diaper stackers and swim robes, so be sure to drop in and check them out!).
After my husband agreed to Janice’s request, I asked him what he thought he might say. “I have no idea – I don’t remember a single thing!” was his reply. Typical male – but I panicked nonetheless. So impromptu date night it was. And there we were, reminiscing about how we prepared for each of the girls over chicken wings and grilled pork chops. We tried to come up with some of the salient points from our first days as parents. And it seemed like we were on the same page.
Of course, the talk itself played out differently. At the very least, it proved to be entertaining for the parents-to-be in the audience. It was a true showcase of how moms and dads (like ourselves!) would have the same end-goal in mind, but would have two varying points of view as to how to get there. I hope these parents picked up a thing or two!
Thinking back to the conversation we shared with the moms and dads present at Pregnant Pause, here are a few key highlights I’d like to reiterate (just in case it got lost beneath the anecdotes and the laughter):
1. Sit and talk about roles and expectations from both mom and dad before the baby comes. Back in Chapel Hill, a midwife gave my husband and I a quick “parenting quiz”, which had the roles and responsibilities related to newborn care (ie breastfeeding, changing diapers, waking up at night, etc). We had to answer the document individually and then compare notes, sort of like how it’s done for typical marital issues in pre-marriage seminars. Each item had a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 was what Mom was solely expected to do, and 7 was something that Dad was solely expected to do. Four would be a task shared by both. It was through this test that I discovered my husband had circled “1″ on his sheet when it came to diaper changing, while my answer was 4. You can just imagine the kind of bickering that could have gone on! We don’t realize it, and maybe some of these things we take for granted, but it’s good to thresh it out before the baby comes. Dads need time to prepare and psyche themselves out, and the “after” can be quite a blur, most especially for Dads!
2. Prepare and read up, but also prepare to be flexible. When I was pregnant with Sam, as a soon-to-be first time mom I really took the time to read up and research on what to expect. My husband claims that I even gave him books to read (which he of course, did not read!). In any case, the information that you gather can both be conflicting and overwhelming. And you never know what kind of baby you’re going to get. So while you have all the information at the back of your head, trust yourself to go with the flow as well. My husband would always remind me that babies aren’t robots and their needs change on a daily basis. That’s true. No baby is the same, and the books and the research only should service as a guide, not as a strict manual to be followed.
3. Base the things you need on the kind of parents you want to be. Every website and book will have a checklist. Again, let this serve as a guide. Don’t let the preggy hormones get the best of you and buy everything all at once, as sometimes you’ll realize you don’t need it all (My husband did say I was quite the trigger happy pregnant shopper. Heehee!). Decide first what kind of parenting style you’d want to adapt and then work your way around what it is you need to purchase – or borrow! For instance, if you intend to co-sleep, then maybe a crib isn’t needed. If you plan to breastfeed, invest in breastfeeding covers and some nipple shields. In Chapel Hill, carseats are required by law, and so those were some of the big investments we made. Are you the type of mom who will babywear, or use a stroller?
4. Invest in good quality, long-lasting items. Like a good changing table for instance. Think of safety, think of your back (instead of bending down and over all the time!), and again, something that will last a long time and grow with your child.
5. The end all and be all is: Follow your wife’s lead. My husband said that in the beginning, all he planned to do was invest x amount of time in the day-to-day of our child. And slowly as the days passed, he realized my view was different. I expected him to put in MORE hours than he’d planned. Ultimately, what I wanted was followed.
Now Dads — this doesn’t mean we bully you into doing what we want (well, we do know better! I’m half kidding). But really when the baby comes along, it’s mom who is in pain, mom who needs to recover, and mom who is constantly sleep-deprived. And… let’s face it. With postpartum and women’s natural irrational tendencies, we can be overly emotional a lot of the time. So the best (and most painless way) for everyone to get through it, is to just follow what mom wants. ‘Nuff said.
In hindsight it was a fun experience. And it was a good trip down memory lane for us both. It made us realize how similar and how different we are from the kind of parents we set out to be four and a half years ago.
Are we ready to do it all over again the third time around? Most probably not. The two experiences our girls gave us I feel have given us more than enough to talk about for many more pregnant pauses to come!