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The 20 Dumbest Things I Did During My First Week as a Father

Photograph by Twenty20

When I look back on my first week as a father, all I can do is shake my head. I made SO MANY mistakes. So many things came out of my mouth during that first week that, literally, still make me blush with embarrassment. Years later, now that I'm reasonably comfortable as a parent, I can finally look back on that week and laugh ... sort of.

So, in the interest of making sure that I never forget how far I've come, here are the 20 dumbest things I did during my first official week as a dad:

20. In retrospect, it was probably not a great idea to keep staring at the machines in the delivery room, watching the numbers rise and fall, and loudly telling my wife, "OH WOW, you just had a contraction. A BIG ONE."

Because she probably knew that already, right?

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19. I am really, really happy that I insisted on staying in the hospital with my wife and new baby for the full three days they were admitted. I am not happy that I only threw one extra T-shirt for myself into my wife's overnight bag and looked (and smelled) like a greasy drifter the whole time.

18. I should not have hate-stared at every member of the medical team as they went into the operating room for my wife's unplanned C-section.

If I'd done more research, I might've known it was standard procedure to not allow the partner into the OR for the first few minutes while the patient is prepped. Instead, I stood outside the room and pouted like a brat at the people who were literally about to hold the lives of my entire family in their hands. (They let me in five minutes later.)

17. I undressed completely, aside from boxers and socks, when they gave me the surgical scrubs to wear in the OR. I thought that was how it was done.

But, the SECOND the C-section was over, a mean nurse wanted the scrubs back, and I had to run away from my new family and search for my real clothes for 10 panicked minutes.

16. I sent out pictures of my wife, post-surgery, holding our daughter without showing her the pictures first.

That was … wow, rookie mistake.

15. I purchased the pictures from the "official" hospital photographer.

They remain the WORST pictures that have EVER been taken of my very photogenic daughter.

14. I assumed that I knew how my wife wanted our daughter's name to be spelled.

Because, it turns out, we had TOTALLY different ideas on the subject, and that was a very awkward conversation for the poor hospital administrator holding the birth certificate forms to witness.

13. I didn't have anyone check on our car in the parking lot while we were admitted.

And it was November in Michigan. As a result, the car stalled five times on our drive home and, in case you didn't know, driving home with a new baby for the first time is the stress equivalent of driving a truck full of nitro through the speed bump zone of "The Hurt Locker."

12. I attempted to give my wife breastfeeding advice.

There … there are no words.

11. I assumed the baby would spend most of her time sleeping in her crib.

10. When our family said they'd help for the first two weeks, I thought that they would be making us food and doing our laundry while we got to bond with our baby.

In reality, they grabbed the baby and let us make our own food and do our own laundry.

9. I checked my work email.

8. I dropped phrases like "as a parent" into conversations WAY more often than is socially acceptable.

7. I debated baby-soothing techniques with any other parent.

Including my own—all of whom had SO much more experience than I did.

6. I gave up on swaddling almost immediately.

5. I ate big, gross fast-food (delivered by a friend) in front of my wife who had just had her insides cut open a few days earlier.

4. I blamed every baby tantrum on "gas."

Because I had no other ideas.

3. I thought I knew how to install a car seat properly.

Until a female state trooper we knew inspected my installation job and immediately pulled about five feet of slack out of the seatbelt that I kept referring to as "rock solid."

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2. I didn't take enough pictures.

I didn't write enough stories down. I didn't record enough of the highs and lows of that insane, INSANE week.


Everything I did was dumb and uninformed and under-researched and earnest and emotional and crazy. But that's pretty standard when you're a new parent, so cut me a little slack.

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