Congrats, dad! Your partner carried your child for 10 months, obliterated their vagina or was sliced open like a watermelon, and now you have a healthy baby. Hopefully, you did your fair share during the pregnancy, and tried every single day to make her life as wonderful as possible. You know, stopped to get her whatever she was craving, took over all the household chores, and rubbed those tired, swollen feet every night. Just little things, no biggie! A good, supportive partner will move heaven and earth to make life easier for a pregnant woman. And that doesn't end when the baby is born! That first day home can be jarring. She's going to need you to step up. Don't be a worthless dad on this, the most important of days!
We're joking, of course (sort of). Dads can be an integral part of this equation. Notice we said "can be". Because as much as love you guys, there are some ways that y'all can really drop the ball. That first day home with a new baby is going to be a basket of emotions for everyone. But unlike you, your partner is ALSO dealing with some pretty major postpartum stuff. Now's your time to shine! Don't be a worthless dad that first day home - memorize this list to insure you knock this one out of the park.
Your partner isn't going to be walking out of that hospital. Even if she could, them's the rules! Patients are to be wheeled out in a wheelchair. Which means you have several jobs. You need to take care of the discharge paperwork, while your partner gets herself ready (very slowly). You need to pack everything up while your partner gets the baby ready (again, very slowly). Don't forget to steal all the free samples, she'll be pissed if you don't. Then, you are to take the bags to the car, and pull the car around to the loading bay. Now, this is where it gets tricky. You need to carry the baby IN THE CAR SEAT out to the car, while simultaneously pushing your partner's chair. Then, you are to safely secure your most precious cargo in the car (listen for the clicks!), and FINALLY, you are to gingerly help your partner up and into the car. Then you can begin the drive home (SLOWLY).
Now is not the time for new routes home. You are to make sure that the road is smooth, free of bumps, and with as few stops and turns as possible. Do not, we repeat, DO NOT make unplanned or unexpected stops. Unless of course your partner requests food or medicine or a milkshake. In which case, you will make that stop, you will run that errand, and you will be back in the car in record time! Traffic? You better fire up that Waze app and get around it, pronto. That baby could start crying at any time, and you don't want to be trapped in a car with a crying newborn and a postpartum woman. Trust us.
Again, this step needs to be completed before you embark on your journey home. Don't ask us where you'll find the time, just do it. Outsource the work, she won't care. But that house better be spotless, all baby supplies better be stocked, the fridge better be full, and her donut pillow better be on the couch when she walks in the door. Flowers are also a nice touch, don't forget the flowers. Maybe infuse some lavender essential oils prior to their arrival, so it smells nice. Get some singing birds like Snow White has, those are cool. Just make it perfect. And unload the car in this order: baby, then mom WHILE STILL HOLDING BABY, then luggage. Don't go inside before they do, that's just bad form.
Get the baby inside the house. You can set it down in the carrier for just a moment while you help your partner in. Does she have to pee? She goes first. Is she hungry, thirsty, in pain? Handle it. Where does she want to rest first? Ask her. Move the command center to where she is, and set it up again. Make sure she has water, a snack, her phone and charger, her nursing pillow, the remote, hand sanitizer, and the baby. Then, and ONLY then, are you allowed to tend to your own needs. But make it quick, she's going to need you in 3...2...
We don't care of your partner is in the living room with the baby and you need to go to the bedroom to get something - if it's more than five feet away, it's too far. Now, there are a few loopholes here. If your partner specifically asks for you to go to another room for something, you may go. If she doesn't give you a specified return time, you may attempt to do whatever you needed to do, but do it quickly. Another loophole: she's sick of your face and doesn't want to see it. If that's the case, remove yourself from her presence immediately. But stay close enough that you can hear her whisper for you to come back, because she will.
Image: Comedy Central
Now, this portion of Operation Don't Be A Worthless Dad needs to be done with a deft hand. You can't badger her, that'll only annoy her or piss her off. But for the love of all things holy, don't ignore her! You have to figure out how to casually assess her needs without coming across as needy or too eager. Also, anticipate her needs before she has them. If you notice her water bottle is less than half full, you better fill that bitch up immediately. Imagine you're a waiter, and your partner is a party of 10 at a super expensive restaurant. This tip can make or break your night. Work wisely.
Image: National Urban League Convention
Your partner needs some time to relax and recover. So when baby cries out, go get the baby. If baby needs to be changed, change the baby! Baby hungry? Prepare the bottle and feed the baby, or be supportive as hell during this first nursing session at home. Unless your partner explicitly asks that you NOT do something, then do it. Please don't say, "Do you want me to [insert baby thing] the baby?" Of course she wants you to, unless she's told you she doesn't want you to, in which case she probably still DOES want you to but she doesn't want to have to tell you. It's really very simple.
Now, you may have thought that you'd be doing a really good thing by stocking the house with all the stuff she loved while she was pregnant. You could not be more wrong. After eating that food for months, she probably never wants to see it again. Her old, pre-pregnancy faves are a good idea. Have lots of options! Just, every option imaginable. Go to all the delivery places in your area and get menus. Have GrubHub and Uber Eats ready to go on her phone. Bonus points if your partner is breastfeeding and you independently research foods that are good for milk supply. Seriously, that's prime Excellent Dad skills right there.
Image: Universal Pictures
Moms with kids at home will not need to be told to take a nap. They will walk into the house and head straight for the bedroom, they won't even hold the door open for you. But first-time moms? Oh, bless their hearts. They're not going to want to let the baby out of their sight, and they will probably feel guilty for sleeping through the big homecoming. Don't let her feel guilty. Assure her you've got things covered, and gently usher her to bed. She needs sleep, probably desperately. You want to make sure she's putting her needs higher on her list, because she will have removed them from the list completely by this point.
It's just you and that baby. You know, YOUR baby. This might be the first time you've been alone since they made their grand entrance! Scary as shit, right? We know. But trust us: these little moments of just you and the baby are to be cherished. Take off your shirt, unbutton their onesie, and have some quality skin-to-skin while mama gets some much-needed rest. Tell stories, sing a song, or just close your eyes and listen to their little heartbeat. This is your moment, just the two of you. Savor it, and enjoy your first taste of being an awesome dad.
First of all, CALM DOWN. Don't be a worthless dad and lose your shit when the going gets tough. This is when we need you the most! First, assess the situation. Is the baby HUNGRY hungry, or just getting hungry? If it's the former, you need to get that baby fed immediately to avoid a DEFCON 5 situation. If it's the latter, you have like 4 minutes to handle mom's needs. Two birds with one stone: fix her a snack, put her pain pills on the plate, and refill her water bottle. That needs to take two minutes tops, so you might want to do a few practice runs before the baby comes home. Once mom is eating and/medicated, get the baby. Bottle, feed, burp. Or, hold and soothe the baby until mom is ready to nurse.
We are Team No Guests on the first day home. But, we certainly understand how one or two trusted friends or family members can be useful! Do not, under any circumstances, invite anyone over before getting permission from your partner. Do not accept any offers of help before getting permission from your partner. It's a big, overwhelming day, and too many cooks can spoil the soup. Keep it very simple, ask who she wants to be there, and respect those wishes. It's better to piss off friends and family than your postpartum partner, we cannot stress that enough. Plus, more people equals more germs around your very vulnerable baby. Can't have that!
No matter how many times you tell people you don't guests on the first day home, people will show up. They mean well! They really do. But they still can't come in. Field any and all texts and phone calls, and decline offers of help or visits. If the doorbell rings, you better crack that door open just wide enough to slip out onto the porch and handle the business right then and there. Oh, your lovely neighbor brought a casserole! That it so sweet, take the dish and let her know you'll give her a call when she can produce a current vaccine schedule and your partner's vagina stops having a heartbeat. You're not going to make a lot of friends playing the bad guy here, but that doesn't matter.
Image: US National Archives
So many memories to capture on that first day home with the new baby! First bottle or boob at home, first diaper change at home, first nap in their bassinet or crib. If you have a dog, you're going to want to take pictures of them meeting. Get pictures of your partner cuddling on the couch with the baby, and take plenty of pictures of her in her new element. Make sure to get some selfies of you with the baby, because if you ask your partner to take some, she's likely to get mad. Why, you ask? Who knows. Maybe it was the way you asked.
THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT OF PROJECT DON'T BE A WORTHLESS DAD. You're going to be snapping away, capturing memories, and you might want to share a few on social media. That's fine! As long as your partner agrees, that is totally fine. But do not, under any circumstances, post ANY pictures before she gives them the once over. You don't understand: we look at pictures with a much more critical eye, and will catch details you might have missed. Like the spit-up on her shoulder, the way one of her eyes is lazy in a certain photo, or an exposed nipple. You need a second set of eyes on all the pictures, and you are required to delete any she isn't happy with.
We know it seems like this entire list is different ways to pay attention to your partner. And it is. But you have to do even more. Listen, she's sort of a mess right now. She's exhausted, physically and mentally. And probably in a significant amount of pain or discomfort. She's scared and overwhelmed, and a tiny part of her is afraid that you love the baby more. She probably won't ever say that, but she's thinking it! Make sure you take plenty of time to reaffirm your love for her, and tell her what an amazing bad-ass she is for giving life to your baby. Seriously, you can't say it enough.
Image: Disney Pixar
Dude, your life has changed completely. You are a dad now! While the first day isn't indicative of what everyday will be like, it'll give you a pretty good idea. Let yourself feel all those emotions. Laugh, cry, laugh some more. Try to remember the little details of that day, like how tiny the baby looked in that crib that you thought was going to be too big, or how all the smallest baby clothes hang off their little feets. Study your baby's face, because we have some bad news: it'll be different the next day, and the day after that.