Dad’s Maiden Voyage

So today is Monday which means that all parties survived the first weekend without mom. The first time I have been alone with my 7 1/2 month old daughter for multiple days on end. Before this weekend got here I was a little nervous about how this weekend would go. Mom had always been within reach, even if a few hours away. Now mom was gonna be across the country for the weekend. No bailing out dad this time. Despite a calm demeanor, I was shaking in my boots. I have changed diapers, and I have rocked the baby to sleep many times, but have never been, just her and I for days. Now I am responsible for all the feedings, and all the things. Regarding nighttime, my wife and I had the arrangement that she gets up at night to take care of the baby, due to my working during the day. Since then my wife has gone back to work, and still handles our baby girl full time. This agreement has since been amended, and will probably always be on the edit which is totally cool with me. The key in the rise and fall is always the communication. When we have communicated about the arrangement, all goes well. When anything is left in the dark, it is quickly revealed, and usually it's at a very tired moment with a very unhappy child. Off my wife went one evening, and so it began!

Night #1

Grand total 1.75 hours of sleep. There was a large amount of crying and rocking and diaper changing going on. I was losing the battle pretty hard. There were 2 full scale, fully awake, baby celebrations going on complete with crawling and grinning and beard pulling. It really was laughable. If this was a scoring event, Baby-1 Daddio-0. Thank the Good Lord the next day, I had pretty much mailed it in as far as work goes, because nothing was getting done, due to lack of sleep, and carrying a small human all day. I had no effing idea how hard it was just to take a leak. Mad respect and gratitude continued to build for my wife!!

Day #1

We made it through day 1 reasonably unscathed. There was a whole lot of sleeping, and eating, and diaper changing, and playing. Between my daughter the dog and myself, someone was constantly being tended to. I was so damn ready for bed time by the time this day was closing. I put her to bed at 6ish, she barely made it due to lack of sleep the night before. The bedtime routine didn't last but about 4 seconds. FINALLY, some time to myself. I was exhausted, but so happy to just be sitting down and doing nothing, that I had to enjoy it a bit. My admiration and respect for my wife and what she does just exponentially exploded. The whole day I was enveloped. Not in a bad way, just in a total dad way. I loved it, and was exhausted by it.

Night #2

Night 2 was off to a great start. Both parties were exhausted so we slept like bosses till about 11. She starts out the night in her crib, and usually ends up in the bed at some point. At 11, she woke up, I changed her and fed her, and just brought her to bed with me. I put up a barrier (pillow and blanket) on the other side of her where my wife sleeps and we went to sleep. At 3:00amon the dot, I woke up, wide awake. Immediately in my frame of vision was my daughter "sleep crawling" over the edge of the bed. F******CK!!! My Heart skipped 27 beats. I almost threw up!! HOW?!!?!? WHAT?!?? Confusion!!! Mass hysteria!!! I lurched over the edge of the bed to see her body laying still on the floor. I can’t even explain to you the terror in my soul at this exact moment. I don't want to repeat the thoughts that ran through my head. I thought I had just ruined my daughter. I was already never forgiving myself. I picked her up, and realized she was still asleep or she had knocked herself out. I woke her up by putting her hand in some cold water and she was pissed. All of her limbs moved normally, she could move her head and neck. There was no blood or bruising. She was alert, and babbling, and she ate a ton. Wheewwwww!!! I have never been so relieved. And never felt like so much of a failure. I was mortified!!! We then managed to fall back asleep, I built a mockup of the Rocky Mountains on the other side of her this time. And all was well till morning.

Day #2

We had a much better day, full of playing, napping, eating, dad had lots of coffee. I even took her on a breakfast date, and made it through the whole meal with no tears and no spills. This was a gigantic victory after the night we had.  Seeing as now she thinks putting her hands on everything including all your food is cool.

Night #3

We got this thing figured out now. I put her to bed at just before 6. She slept until 2, woke up, I fed her and changed her and back to bed till about 5 or so, which is our house is well in the fairway of times to be awake. Then we did snugglefest until about 6:30and off to coffee.

Day #3

Mom came home. Just in time, we were tapped out on milk supply, and we both missed mom.
Yes, I told my wife what had happened. This weekend was huge for me as a dad. Before this weekend, I always felt close to my daughter, but never as close as my wife. There is a certain bonding that happens, when you spend all moments with your little one. There was a distinct time on the first day where my daughter would not stop crying. I checked the trusty 3, not hungry, no dirty diaper, and wasn’t tired. I had no clue what to do. My first thought was my wife, Nope she was in Miami. I stuck it out, and got her to calm down. I felt pretty accomplished after this little encounter, even though it was pretty small. After the weekend, I felt like a champion, haha. It may sound dumb, but it was huge for me. I highly recommend that dads take time with their kids, one on one. I think its important that we take a bigger role in their lives, and they realize that they can depend on us too. I feel like I am one small step closer to this in my life. I have plenty of more learning just ahead, I am sure. __________________________________________2 years later
Our first daughter is 3.5 now, and our second is 22 months. This weekend literally was a launching platform for where I am today. Now we have moved our family across the country and changed roles. My wife wanted to pursue her career, so I took over the home duties with the girls.
I still can remember waking up that night like it was last night. I don’t think those moments ever will leave our minds. But the confidence that I came out of this weekend was so profound for me. The confidence in myself as a father was huge. It’s one thing to fill in for mom when she is in the next room, but when she is gone and the buck stops with you, and this changes things. This allowed me to find my stride as a father and troubleshoot and problem solve fo myself.
Now I take the kids during the day while my wife works and cook dinners for the whole family, including my parents and it’s pretty Awesome actually. I definitely have a broadened skill set in the adulting world.
There are some musts though. I must have time for myself. For me, this is fitness time, this is time with my tools, this is time to read and blog and think. I must have these times, or the ship sails off course and my mental game goes down hill. I must have time set aside to do my work, the things I care about and am passionate about.
I feel that our roles as parents have evened our some, after these last couple years. At first Mom is literally the source of everything. We as dads feel like a house ornament. But this is your time to begin earning your relationship with your baby. This is your time to strengthen your relationship with your wife. This is your time to claim your space as a father. Jump at the chance to take the baby. Offer to change the diapers and do the feedings and take the baby for walks. Your wife will thank you, and you will feel better about this whole journey. I would encourage your to take the kids for a weekend. See the other side of the parenting experience. This weekend changed me, and I will never forget it. Respond in comments with your first experience.