It’s absolutely true what they say about not being able to explain what it feels like to see the birth of your child. It’s completely unique and pretty indescribable to anyone outside the parent club. While you won’t be able to train for that feeling, though, there are a few things you can do to ready yourself for fatherhood. Assuming you’ve already gotten a good deal of your supplies and baby furniture, I highly recommend giving the following five methods of preparation a shot to help train your mind and body. Warning, they might not all be pretty, but they’re honest!
CARRY AROUND A PSEUDO BABYThe primary piece of advice I have for new fathers–especially ones who will be staying home with their kid like I do after mom goes back to work–is learn how to do everything one-handed. As a work-from-home dad, I’m constantly carrying my daughter either facing out or up on my shoulder and trying to do normal things around the house like picking up, grabbing a pacifier or even buying groceries with the other. The best way to train for this would be to get something heavy–preferably a small, compact mass–and carry it around like a baby for hours at a time. You’ll really feel the burn in your arm, but think of it like training for a sport, the more you do ahead of time, the more prepared you’ll be for game day (which is everyday, of course). Start off with something heavier than your kid is expected to be, that way when she’s born, you’ll actually be used to a heavier weight and she won’t feel as heavy. The most realistic baby-like construct I can think of would be a bag of flour with an ostrich egg for a head. If you can figure out how to combine those two things without the head falling off, let me know.
CRANK UP SOME METAL
No matter how well prepared you are for your kid on a daily basis, there will be times when she freaks out for no discernible reason. She’s unhappy and the only way she can let you know is by screaming her tiny head off. The loud, high pitched scream emanating from your darling daughter will signal a need to be changed or for food, but even when you get really good at translating the various cries, that doesn’t mean you have Flash-like superspeed. There will be time between realizing what she needs and actually being able to help. In that time, she will scream bloody-freaking-murder It’s a sad, heartbreaking thing to witness, but it’s also very hard on the ears. Listening to some old school metal like Megadeth will get your ears used to high pitched, loud sounds.
BATHE A WATERMELON
I got this idea from The Office. When Michael’s ex is expecting, he decides to take on a fatherly role. To prepare him for the birth, Dwight uses a buttered-up watermelon to simulate the kid. It’s not a bad idea. You could even use it for the first item on the list now that I think about it. Anyway, bathing babies can be difficult depending on how squirmy they are, but even the calmest, most water-loving infant will still become slippery as all get out when dipped in water. I figure trying out a bath with a watermelon will offer up a pretty good analog for a baby. If you can bathe a watermelon, you can bathe a baby.
WATCH A ZOMBIE MOVIE OR TWO
This one’s a two-fold bit of preparation. First off, ff you’re queasy about gore and plan on being around for the birth, it might make sense to desensitise yourself a bit. I recommend finding the more graphic entries in the horror sub genre like Zombie or Dawn Of The Dead. Secondly, the truth of the matter is that your baby will resemble a zombie on more than one level. She will be a slobbering, single minded creature who makes noises only found in monster movies (just replace “brains” with “milk” and you get the idea). You will love her with all your heart, but you will notice her zombie-like tendencies. Might as well get used to them with a few fun flicks.
BORROW A BABY (BUT DON’T LOSE IT)
If you don’t feel like picking up some sacks of flour or watermelons on your next trip to the store, the real best way to get ready for a baby is to borrow someone else’s, preferably while the parents go elsewhere. That will really give you the full effect of having another tiny life completely dependent on you. Food, waste management, entertainment, clean-up, it’s all on you. Just remember that you can’t just pass your kid off at the end of the day when you’re actually a parent. That would be cheating.
Good luck new dads! Any advice from other veterans out there? I can only speak for the first few months so far.