We’re moms. And as moms, we tend to think about everyone else – what they need, what they want, whether they can eat Goldfish crackers for dinner, when they’re going to bed (by the way, is it bedtime yet?) – you know the drill. But, when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, the focus is pretty much all on Mom. Fact is, though, the birth of a new baby is a life-changing experience for both Mom and Dad. For some insight on what having a baby looks like from Dad’s perspective, we chatted with new dad Tom Andrews, an Administrator for Medical Staff Professional Development at The Christ Hospital Health Network.
Tom Andrews and his wife, Kelsey, live in Lebanon, OH with their 7-year-old shih-tzu mix named Cooper. When Tom learned that Kelsey was pregnant with their first child, his thoughts immediately turned to all that needed to be done to prepare for Baby’s arrival. He knew it was time to “kick it into overdrive” to finish household projects and check things off of his to-do list.
As the pregnancy progressed, Tom’s biggest surprise – and one of his biggest thrills – was deciding to wait to find out the gender! The parents-to-be decided to keep the baby’s gender a secret until he arrived. Part of getting ready for the baby’s arrival included preparing their dog, Cooper, for life with a new baby. Tom says, “We read countless magazines, blogs, talked to friends and family, and made sure everything was ready at home for when the baby arrived; including prepping Cooper. We read about possible dog depression, and tried to prepare him by bringing him around our niece and nephews…”
Soon, the big day arrived and it was time to head to The Christ Hospital Medical Center – Liberty Township for a scheduled induction. Like most new parents, Tom was stressed, excited, and even a bit panicked, but he made sure to show Kelsey confidence, strength, and unlimited support. Tom stressed how important he felt it was for him to do that to help Kelsey stay focused and calm.
In his own words, Tom gives us his perspective on the delivery.
Overall, the delivery went well. After about two hours of labor, it was decided to go the C-section route. This was hard on all of us, including our family (parents and siblings) waiting out in the lobby. To start, I am not good around blood, IVs, etc. I’ve even passed out at the vet when my dog was due for his annual shots. They asked if I was going to be OK to go back or if we needed to have Kelsey’s mom (my back-up) come back. I knew I had to at least try. If Kelsey had to be strong, I had to be strong by her side. When it came time to take her to the L&D OR, I was told to sit back in the room until they came to bring me back. When I was in our room waiting, I said a few prayers, a couple “pump me up” talks and did some calming breathing exercises I made up on the fly like “I can do this, I can do this.” Once I got in the OR, in my scrubs, I had another “oh shoot” moment, and knew I had to bring it back together and sit by Kelsey’s side and comfort her. There is plenty of covering so you can’t see anything (unless you both ask to). I made sure it was known that I did not want to see anything, didn’t want to cut the cord, etc. The procedure was relatively quick, maybe 30min-1hr. There were no issues and a healthy baby was delivered. He did have a small cut/scratch on the back of his head, but they said that was from her two hours of pushing, and was completely normal. That has since fully healed, along with his cone head.
Baby Bennett was the fourth baby – and the first boy! – born at the new The Christ Hospital Medical Center – Liberty Township. Tom mentions this as one of his favorite parts of the delivery process. One of his least favorite parts – and the vast majority of new parents would likely agree – was the massive learning curve that comes with the arrival of a new baby. And worse than that? Tom says going back to work was the hardest.
“While I was there for all of my siblings and helped when they were little, along with other cousins, nieces and nephews, and babysitting; it was hard to be on our own. You can’t hand off your baby when he starts to cry or has a dirty diaper. That’s my job now. Sounds odd, but you – yes you dads! – will be sore, too. Carrying a baby and rocking the baby to sleep works muscles you don’t normally use. Back pains and sore arms. Aside from all of that, the absolute least favorite, going back to work. Leaving your wife to take care of the baby while you are at work is hard. You know she is ready, but knowing you can’t be there to give her a break to catch up on lost sleep from the previous night’s late night feedings, etc. You always wish there were two of you, or an extra hand.
Kelsey and Bennett are settled in at home and doing well, with Kelsey seeing a lactation consultant to help with feeding techniques and make sure her milk production is increasing. Furbaby Cooper, however, is struggling to adapt to his new “sibling.” Despite their attempts to prepare him, including having him sniff items with Bennett’s scent on them before Kelsey brought him home, Cooper slipped into a doggy depression, refusing to eat and hiding under the bed. Tom worked diligently to bring him out of it.
I started giving him a more attention, but not so much to overwhelm him. I would take him on car rides (one of his favorites), let him have play time with our neighbor’s dog for a few hours, gave him some of the treats he really liked, and even mixed some wet food that he would sometimes get when we visit my parents. He is not back to 100%, but he’s getting there. This is one area that was, by far, the hardest on all of us. We can take care of the baby, but it’s hard to take care of a crying baby and a depressed dog.
We’re willing to bet Cooper will come to love Bennett – and even more so when they can run around with Dad in the yard!
Tom has a few final words of wisdom for new dads…
Breathe. Support. Know when to ask for help. Know when to step up and help your wife. Pamper your wife before and after baby. Whether it be a home-cooked dinner, a massage, covering a “shift”” at night, a back-rub, or going out and buying her clothes that fit and look nice. But also remember to take care of yourself. When you get a moment, you are 100% allowed to walk away and cry if that’s what you really need. Or even walk outside for air. Pregnancy, labor, and now a baby, is A LOT to take on. If you can learn how to take care of your wife and yourself, your house will be a much healthier and happier place for you and your dog to live. SMILE! You’re a dad now!
We couldn’t agree more, Tom!