Your child has just come fresh out of the oven. You know your first month with your kid is going to be such a new experience; your wife seems okay, but you know she’s going to need as much rest as she can get, and your baby is not going to make that easy.
If you’re actively caring for your wife and child during your wife’s confinement period, or making sure everything is all right before you head back to work from your paternity/childcare leave, the very first thing that will hit a father in the face; you are potentially your wife’s balance between sanity and insanity.
And the most urgent thing you have to learn from day zero is the meanings behind your children’s cries.
The cries are unique to each situation, and also unique to each child. Hunger cries start off soft, like a whimper, then gradually become louder and longer; it’s probably an indication for you to run for the bottle (or your wife’s breast – for your baby, not you). Crying for a diaper change will sound more consistent, and sound more like the baby’s complaining than actually sad. Tired crying is more of a way for the baby to release tension; you’ll need to check your environment to see if there’s too much noise, too much movement, too hot, too cold, or your neighbour is having an extended mahjong session. Pain crying won’t occur as often, but it will be the one that demands the most attention; it’s usually sudden, sharp and shrill, and could either mean your baby is falling sick, got an open diaper pin stuck on its belly or you might be sitting on it (please don’t do that).
Now what to do with this knowledge? Short of doing the breastfeeding yourself, whenever you can provide support to your baby in lieu of your wife, do it. Fatherhood is as much a 24/7 job as 7-Eleven is a store and more. Remember this very important fact: your wife had a little human sitting on her belly for 9 months, and the excruciating pain she had to go through to deliver the fruit of your loins is reason enough for you to provide any and every support you humanly can to ensure your wife – and child – are happy… for pretty much the rest of your collective lives.
Welcome to fatherhood.