What better reason to stay healthy than your family?
This month, I want to share with you easily the most beautiful (and sometimes frustrating!) experience I’ve ever had: Becoming a father!
With the help of a friend, I sat down and hashed out what I believe are some essential questions for a new parent to ask!
We had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you guys enjoy reading it!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Thomas Caley, DC
What’s the single most ridiculous things that’s happened to you since becoming a parent?
There have been so many outrageous moments, sounds, and experiences thus far, it’s hard to pick just one.
A few weeks after her birth, Evangeline was fifteen minutes away from her typical feeding time when I was just holding her in one arm admiring her. I leaned in for a kiss and just then she managed to latch onto my cheek like she was trying to nurse! And then, I had an idea…
I thought it would be funny to see if she’d latch on to my nose. Sure enough, as soon as I got close, her lips adhered to the tip of my nose like a little sucker fish!
I was laughing and thinking it was hilarious, and but all the while Kristin was sitting beside me with a look that said, “you are going to be very sorry.”
After a few moments, I finally managed to pry Evangeline off my nose. I turned to Kristin, who audibly gasped.
I ran to the mirror and there, right on the tip of my nose, was a dime-sized, bright red hickey.
It was there for friends, family, patients and everyone I encountered for the next three days to admire. I was embarrassed to say the least!
What has been the most challenging part of being a parent so far?
The most challenging part is definitely getting over the thought that we are going to be perfect parents from the start. Almost 100% of being a good parent is about the effort. If your little creation wakes up each morning cooing and fussing or content and smiling, you’re doing a good job. If you forget to pack extra clothes in the diaper bag and your baby blows out the diaper, the onesie and the pants while out at a coffee shop so you are left swaddling her in Mom’s scarf, you are still doing a good job.
Personally, the first few weeks I wanted there to be no crying, fussing or spitting up,because to me that would mean I am doing things right.
Newsflash: They’re going to fuss. They’re going to spit up. Sometimes, they’ll even cry so hard that they’ll lose their breath!
As long as she’s gaining weight and filling up diapers, you are doing a good job.
What has been the most rewarding part of becoming a father?
The way I can see her respond to me like she does to no one else!
Evangeline instantly reacts when she hears my voice or senses me in the room. To see her eyes look in my direction is an instant confirmation that all the anticipation during her pregnancy, all the sleepless nights and all the shirts ruined by spittle are well worth it.
I love how I can immediately tell I bring her a sense of calm and security, and the way she reciprocates the love I’ve had for since before she was even conceived!
Is there anything that surprised you about becoming a father?
While it isn’t surprising that Evangeline has helped me become a more practical, consistent man, I was surprised by one essential skill she’s really brought out in me–the ability to say “no.”
Of course, not to her. I’m still working on that.
What I mean is that, prior to her birth, I would say yes to pretty much anything anyone asked of me, and bite off more than I can chew in an effort to please others. My intentions were good, but I was spreading myself too thin! In the end, I wouldn’t be able to help anyone. Now that I’ve come to realize my time is also Evangeline’s time, I make sure that no matter what I’m devoting myself to, every second counts and has my full attention.
What kind of mistakes did you make?
Every new parent makes mistakes and thinking Kristin and I weren’t going to make any mistakes was definitely a big one!
The biggest mistake we made was probably over-stimulating Evangeline before bedtime. Did you know newborns are only supposed to be awake for maybe an hour at a time?
I sure didn’t!
We thought cramming in as much quality time as possible with Evangeline was the best thing to do. In the evenings, Kristin and I would I dance around, play with her and sing to her. We’d spend time together until WE were ready to go to bed! We were just trying to nurture her mental development in any way possible, not realizing we were setting up the perfect storm to have a totally cranky baby on our hands!
So, even though we did our best to tire her out, as soon as we put her to bed, she’d enter full fledged meltdown mode. The confusion was insane—Kristin and I were going crazy trying to deal with it for weeks! Like I said, we didn’t realize newborns were only supposed to be up for an hour or so at a time.
Thank God a dear friend with much more parenting experience showed us the error of our ways. When you keep a baby engaged like that for such a long time, they end up overly stimulated and can’t sleep, and when that happens, so do tantrums!
In the end, we not only learned to let her sleep more, we learned that mistakes happen and recognizing them is what really makes a good parent, not being perfect from the start.
What’s it like being a modern dad?
I’ve always been told I’m an old soul in the ways I treat others, the way I dress, speak and act, and now that I’m a dad, this rings true even more.
Today’s culture encourages us to be self-absorbed, glued to our smartphone screens, snapping selfies and constantly striving to be hip. This is the way of the modern man.
But to me being a modern dad means bucking those trends and investing in activities that will make me a better role model: read, travel, play an instrument, volunteer.
Wouldn’t you rather talk to her about the interesting book you just finished or the beautiful cities you’ve seen instead of the selfie you posted on Instagram that got 97 likes?
Bottom line: I want to set an example in the best way that a father can. The impressions you expose your child to will last a lifetime.
Do you have any other anecdotes you want to throw in there about your first month as a father?
There’s an overwhelming sense of love and responsibility that comes over you when your first child is born.
It hit me right there when she was 25 seconds old and laying on Kristin’s chest, taking her first breaths.
She grabbed my out stretched finger and held it for the first time, and then I knew: this will be the one and only time I’ll have her wrapped around my finger.