Becoming a Dad Article

Family Planning

Did you plan to have this baby? About half the babies born in America are planned, so either way, you have lots of company.

I had what I call the "three M's" all in one year: marriage, mortgage and maternity. Got married, two months later bought a house, then during escrow I find out my wife's pregnant and I'm going to be a father. Talk about a . . . shock.
- Rookie Dad

If your baby was not planned, well surprise, surprise. Life can throw us curveballs, and an unplanned baby can really put one through the ringer. She can also be a God-send, all at the same time.

Having a baby is sort of like getting on a roller coaster, which starts off slowly and then speeds up and throws you through a lot of twists and turns. You get through it in one piece, and before you know it, the rough part is over.

This "jump in the deep end and swim" approach works well for most, since planning a baby does little to actually prepare you for a child. You just start by accepting the fact that you are going to have a child, and go from there.

Among the toughest circumstances are those in which the baby was planned by mom alone. This happens. All of a sudden, you are going to be a father, and you suspect, or may know, that she chose to do it without your knowledge.

Feeling blindsided and trapped makes it very hard to take a positive approach. Even if you acquiesced to your wife's desire for a baby and feel you have given one to her, you may find it difficult to take full responsibility as your child's father. If so, you and your baby may both miss out.

But you have a son on the way. Or a daughter. Time to get over it. Time to get on with forming a family. Easy to say; tough to do. Lingering issues over a "surprise" pregnancy are debilitating to all involved. Talk about it with people you trust. Talk about it with your mate.

The baby was a surprise. I am really looking forward to having a child, but I don't know where we are going to find the time. We both need to work, and we are real busy as it is.
- Rookie Dad

Babies Come Tough and Easy
Your baby may scream with colic for months, or sleep through the night within a week, or have a temperament somewhere in between. Some babies are easy on mom and dad; some are not, and this factor alone can make a huge difference.

Even the toughest ones typically turn into happy babies within months, and they have an upside for dads in that they require involvement and afterwards, having delivered when it counted, you have a stronger connection with your child that can last for decades.

If you planned your baby, you and your mate may have worked hard and long at getting a pregnancy to take. If so, you have likely spent a lot of time thinking about your baby and hoping and planning for the future. As a result, you may be better prepared than most.

You may have also experienced a good deal of stress in your relationship as you struggled, and may be surprised at the added strains a new baby can bring. You will want to make it work out no matter what it takes. Especially after what you have been through.

If you and mom decided to go for a baby and it took right away, well, congratulations.

The responsibility of providing for a family hit me hard just as soon as she told me she was pregnant. We talked about it for a few minutes and I felt like I was just floating.

I went outside and started chopping firewood and I damned near worked myself into a frenzy while thinking I wanted to keep the house warm for the baby.
- Veteran Dad


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