Our firstborn was a few weeks old. I came home from work for lunch, so my wife could do a regular postpartum doctor’s visit. She left, and I sat there in my suit, feeding our son a bottle in the place of his regular breastfeeding.
Suddenly I heard the noise, the sound of a rather large if muffled explosion. I looked down to see that my son had somehow figured out how to get a bowel movement through his Pampers, through his plastic pants, and through the lap pad to splatter me and my suit with a yellowish-brownish substance.
My first thought: being single again. My second thought: how do I move and not see the stuff slide down my suit to the shag carpet on the floor? The volume was large. And liquid. On the plus side, the baby seemed quite content and resumed inhaling his bottle.
None of the Lamaze classes prepare you for these kind of moments, or the more general fears of every first-time father. Will I drop the baby? Do I know how to change the diaper? How do I know if the baby’s sick? Can I make it to the kitchen floor before the poop hits the carpet?
Writer and author Ed Cyzewski had an additional fear – he would be the stay-at-home dad while his wife attended graduate school.
As it turned out, Cyzewski did just fine. What likely helped was that he blogged the experience of being a first-time father, which meant he could articulate his fears and worries and get ideas and encouragement from both dads and moms.
In First Draft Father: A Write-from-Home Dad Finds the Joy/Anxiety/Exhaustion/Wonder of Parenting, Cyzewski has assembled and edited his blog posts and added a few articles published in other publications. The result is an honest, and real, account of fatherhood – and trying to juggle baby duties with being a freelance writer and author.
As I said, Cyzewski did just fine – but there were many times when he felt the outcome was in doubt. Whether we’re stay-at-home dads or working dads, we all experience the feelings of doubt, frustration, fear, anxiety, frustration, anger – and love.
He deals with “the real” of babies – the exhaustion, the trade-offs, the best-laid-plans that blow up when the baby decides not to nap, doing whatever it takes to get the baby to sleep (if that means walking him in the stroller during a thunderstorm, so be it); dealing with all the great and not-so-great advice; and the times when you break.
It’s been 27 years since our second son was a newborn – and reading First Draft Father was walking back through those times when I did things I never dreamed of doing B.C. – before children. And learned things I never dreamed of learning.
What Ed Cyzewski has served up is a big helping of encouragement, understanding, and experience. Read First Draft Father if you getting ready to become one, if you are one, ir if you were one.
And did I make it to the kitchen without a downpour on the carpet?
Yes, hunched over at a 90-degree angle with the baby held tightly to my chest. I laid him on floor, messy pad and all, and removed all of my clothes – nothing had been spared, including my socks. Then I removed all of his clothes, none of which had been spared, either, and the two of us streaked to the shower.
Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.