Kris Bartels | 13 Month Analysis of a First Time Dad
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13 Month Analysis of a First Time Dad

August 6, 2015

The day my wife gave birth to our son.

I was awe struck, amazed, excited, anxious, and scared.  All at once.

My wife read the baby book during the pregnancy and I was the husband that occasionally skimmed through the books and paid close attention to what my wife said about her books.  I figured that all I had to know about being a Dad and raising a child, were engrained.  I thought that just because I was raised by some great parents and had some great father figures in my life, that things would be just peachy.  There have been moments during this first years a month of being a dad that have tested my manhood in terms of patience and overall sanity.  I have lost hours of sleep, spent more than I could count on diapers, and have nearly lost my mind.

To say all that, during these past 13 months, I have never smiled more on a daily basis.  I have found myself just sitting back, watching my son, and feeling like I have a purpose.  I have also found myself thinking, “please don’t screw this up”.  My overall thought on fatherhood is as follows.

You only have one life to live and throughout that life, it is my job as a father to teach and guide my son so that he may teach and guide his son so that the lessons and principles I instill will last generations.  Not just my life time.  My son has one father and will only have one father because I will do the very best I can to be the best husband I can be to his mother, my wife.  Through my years as a father, it is on my shoulders to love my son unconditionally and to always be there for him, as mine has been for me.  Fatherhood will have some tough moments.  There will be some amazing moments that take my breathe away.  There will also be some moments that draw tears from my eyes, and in those moments it will be important for me, as a father, to be strong and hold my chin up.  Fatherhood will have obstacles and provide challenges that no book can put into perspective.  During this journey, I can never let a day go by without talking to my son and telling him, “you are a warrior, you are a champion”.  I will never let a day go by without telling him I love him.  It is on me as a father, to let him know that it is okay to go against the grain and to stand up for what he believes in.  I know I will not be the perfect dad, but I do know that I will be the best dad my son could ever have.

It is amazing how the birth of a child can put things into perspective.  Things that I thought were so important before, are after thoughts now.  I have grown more as a person during these past 13 months, then I did the previous 30 years of my life.  Let me explain how the first 13 months have gone for me.  Just like most things in my life, I have broken it down into four quarters.

First Quarter – 0-3 months

The hardest and most mentally and physically exhausting time of my life.  From my wife being induced into labor three weeks early, to taking him home from the hospital, there was so much stress on a bunch of different levels.  Besides trying to be a good dad and fulfill the needs of my son, I had to make sure that all was good with the wife.  Our son was exactly five pounds as he left the hospital and the doctors were worried about his nutrition.  We tried following a schedule and we had it all planned out from the books, but he just was not eating enough.  Besides not eating enough, he would always spit up.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night to change his diaper.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night because I thought I heard him crying, it was my wife snoring.  I remember trying to get him to sleep at 4 am after walking him around the block since midnight, I also had to be at work at 7:15 am.  I remember sleepless nights and the constant worry of, “are we doing this right?”.  The first three months were by far the hardest so far.

Second Quarter – 4-7 months

Did I mention that my mother-in-law lived with us during the first nine months?  Well she did, and what a huge help.  We had the comfort of not having to put the little guy in daycare right away.  He stayed home with Grand”smother” while my wife and I went to work.  The biggest issue during this quarter was still his weight.  He was not gaining weight the way he should have been, so the doctor made us see him once a week for 5 weeks.  The issue was that we tried giving him rice cereal without supplementing with breast milk or formula.  The other issue is that the breast milk was not enough.  Around the five month mark is when we started to supplement with formula.  The great thing about this time is that our son was already crawling a little bit and the milestones were happening on a daily basis.  We had an app that kept track of when and would do a certain thing, such as clap or roll over or smile.  The greatest part of all during this time, we finally got SOME sleep and Bishop was on a schedule.

Third Quarter – 8-10 months

This quarter brought some challenges for us and Bishop.  April was great with Easter and change of weather.  Bishop was more active and began eating some real food.  We began giving him white rice and bananas on a more regular basis.  In may, we decided to go to Israel for my brother’s wedding.  Probably the most difficult thing up to this point.  We were uncertain on if we should bring him with us or let him go to Tampa with my mother-in-law.  We decided to leave the little dude behind, and we also decided to write our first “will” in case something happened to us.  A lot of tears were shed when I wrote him my letter.  As we got to the airport, Shayna broke down crying and as much as I felt upset, I had to stay strong so she would know that we did the right thing.  On that trip, if felt like we were gone for an eternity.  We were on Google Hangouts and Facetimed with him every day.  One challenge Shayna had, was having to pump at the same time she usually breast fed him over here.  She woke up at three a.m. every morning to pump and say goodnight to Bishop.  As a father, I was just worried if he was being taken care of as well as I take care of him.  When we came back, we took an Uber back to our house where we met our in-laws and our son.  It was pretty awesome.  The third quarter was the last time that my Mother-in-law would live with us.  This quarter also marked the beginning of daddy daycare.  I was able to start the “father-son” bond that I was waiting for.

Fourth Quarter – 11-13 months

HOLY CRAP!!!  During the first three-quarters, our depended on us to get him from point A to B and to make sure his needs were met.  During the fourth quarter, things changed.  He began to DEMAND food, sleep, playtime, attention, and anything else that I was using or doing while he was around.  June was the tenth month and marked the end of the school year for me, as well as the start of summer.  June was tough.  I constantly reminded myself to be patient.  I had to develop a schedule in order to get a few minutes of downtime through the day.  By July, I had a pretty good grip of things.  Daddy daycare was in full swing and our bond had never been stronger.  I knew what he liked and disliked.  I knew what his favorite toys were and what made him laugh.  I knew how to cheer him up and what I could do to get him upset.  I would take him to visit my Grandparents at breakfast once every other week.  I took him everywhere!  I tried planning two or three destinations a week.  One day, we would go to the beach.  Another day, we would go to Mygym or to the mall.  I felt like he became “Daddy’s little man”.  It was an awesome feeling.  Then summer started to end and Shayna and I had a decision to make.  Do we put him in daycare or should we go a different route.  That different route was me applying to be a Virtual Teacher for an online school.  I had two interviews and have been waiting for things to come together.  Nothing has happened yet. We decided to go with the daycare option.  I wish there was a book on how to pick a good preschool/daycare.  We visited a number of different daycares and saw the differences between the good ones and bad ones.  Some were actual schools that had a curriculum and some were business cubbies turned into play areas.  We were also pressured by the amount that daycare cost.  That is one expense I never took into consideration when having a child.  Never the less, we had to do it.  After a month in daycare, he comes home happy every day and has made some friends.  What a quarter.  What a life.

So much has happened since he was first born, I barely remember things from the beginning.  I don’t remember how rough in was for the first three months or how bad it was when his tooth popped through his bottom gums.  I don’t remember how miserable it was to not know why he was crying or how stressful it was to no make sure he was getting the food he needed.

At the end of the day, the most important thing he needs from me, the most important thing I can give him, is my genuine love.  As a Dad, life has a meaning.  Everything matters, all the time.  I see the world through a different lens, and it is awesome.  I am excited for what is to come next.