|NICU Graduation Day!!|
I probably slept a total of 5-6 hours over the first two nights Jayden was home. It wasn't quality sleep, either. It was more like resting my eyes. After 4 days home with my wife and son, I had to go back to work. I had a tough time adjusting to a work/family schedule but my amazing wife Gena took a bulk of the baby responsibilities the first week so I could adjust. Looking back on the experience I would like to lend this advice:
|Who looks more exhausted?|
- When the baby sleeps, you sleep. Just do it. Mornings, afternoons, evenings. Infants are very dependent on you and sometimes they don't sleep when you hope/expect them to. Sometimes you just need to say "forget the to-do list" and let your body re-coup. I'm begging you, for your health and sanity. Take a nap.
- At wits end? Put the baby gently in the crib/bassinet and walk away. Give yourself 5 minutes to decompress. A crying baby will be okay. When I was on my own with Jayden, it saved me from losing it a few times.
- Don't pack away your feelings. Try to communicate with your husband/significant other about how your are doing mentally, physically and emotionally. Ignoring fear, anger, and stress leads to much bigger issues down the road.
- Be a team player. Take turns with overnight duties. Regularly clean bottle parts. Offer to take the child for a walk when you think she is staring to go crazy. Anything to ease the workload for mama. As a father, you played a large part in the creation of life. Own the responsibility.
- Emotion does not equal weakness. I spent the better part of a decade packing away sadness, guilt, and anger about a million different things. When I "grew up" I realized how much better I felt sometimes after a good cry. These days I talk a lot about my emotions. From joy to depression and everything in between. It's helped my relationship with my wife significantly. Try it out for size. It may just help you out too.
- Be active in your child's development. Go to doctor visits. Ask questions. Shower your child with love and attention. Read, sing, talk. As much as possible. I wholeheartedly believe Jayden is such a happy child because we put the time in to remind him he is the world to us.
|Where did my preemie go?|
Today I will celebrate so many things. Being a dad. Being a husband. Embracing vulnerability and letting it help me grow as a person. Jayden's smile, his laugh, his earth shattering blue eyes, his mom's stubbornness, his dad's clumsiness, his uncanny ability to be adorable after pushing our limits to the brink. But most important of all, I will celebrate it for all the dads who are waiting for their turn to bring their treasure home. For that life changing moment is one I will never forget, and one I pray all NICU dads will see.
|Daddy loves you Jayden|