There's only so much you can prepare for as a dad. You can read all of the parenting books. You can babysit your nieces and nephews to get some practice in. You can practice changing diapers on your cat.
But no matter how much you practice on your dad skills, sometimes shit happens. Literally.
Santiago just turned one month old, and he's starting to have a little personality. He's a lot like his mom. He needs your undivided attention 24/7, he's moody, and if his meal ain't ready in the snap of a finger his whole worlds stops turning.
And like his mom, he likes to mess with me. I like to think that he knows exactly what he's doing. I can just hear him in his tiny head "Oh you just gonna set me down in this swing while you clean the kitchen huh? Watch this... WAHHH! WAHHH! WAHHH!" Then as I come back to pick him up, the crying stops and he looks at me like "Yeah that's what I thought, slave."
I thought I knew what to expect because I already had one son. At night, AJ used to wake up every two hours to eat. Sometimes, my wife and I would alternate waking up and take turns feeding him. I could bank on him waking up at 5:30 every morning. So I would always wake up at that time, take him to the living room with a bottle, and watch SpongeBob until we both fell back asleep for an early morning nap.
Santiago ain't about none of that.
He sleeps like an adult. It's kinda weird actually. At night, he'll sleep like 6 hours straight. Maybe waking up once to eat knock back out immediately. We've been getting much more consecutive hours of sleep than we did with AJ.
But he makes you pay for good nights of sleep. This morning, he woke up at about 6:00 am to eat and poop. So my wife wakes me up and asks me to massage his stomach like I always do, to assist him in letting it all go. Usually I can tell when he's done, because he stops grunting and he stops flexing his stomach.
So I give him a couple minutes, just to make sure he's all done. His eyes are starting to slowly close, dozing back off to sleep. So I figure I can change his diaper now, right?
I get the next diaper ready, I've got a wipe covering his little friend so he doesn't pee everywhere, everything is accounted for. As I begin to pull the dirty diaper, he looks up at me. I know he's thinking in his mind, "You done fucked up."
I lift up his legs to place the new diaper, and SPLASH! Projectile baby shit all over me! My stomach, shorts, and legs are literally sprayed with that mustard seed looking shit. It's great, this is fine, everything is fine.
At this point, I've done seen it all. I've dealt with a two year old dropping an entire log into his underwear. It comes with the territory of being a dad.
I wasn't even disgusted by it honestly. I was more upset with myself for letting my guard down. I should have known that was coming.
So at 6:30 am, I gave my son a bath, gave him back to his mom, took a shower, and started my day. I've been wanting to wake up earlier anyway, so thanks Santiago for helping me get my day started.
And a PSA to anyone who has a weak stomach for human feces, (looking at it, smelling it, getting it under your fingertips somehow) YOU'RE NOT READY TO HAVE KIDS!
This article was supposed to go a completely different direction. I was supposed to talk about one of the first nights at home with both of our boys. My wife was in bed taking care of our one week old Santiago, and I spent all night going back and forth from my room to AJ's.
Adding another child is a difficult transition for everyone. My poor AJ was lonely in his room so every time he woke up, I went and laid on the ground next to his bed to keep him company.
The whole article was already written in my head. I was going to joke about how miserable I was the next morning, but I think this story is a little more indicative of what its like to be a dad with duties.
My wife recently returned to working about 3 weeks after having Santiago. She is a beast when it comes to business. She is really about that paper.
So while she's out working, I'm on paternity leave for another 9 weeks. So as a temporary stay at home dad, I've been adjusting to trying to map out my day. It's hard not to sit on the couch all day and hold the baby. What other time in his life am I going to be able to enjoy him this way? Never, which makes it that much harder.
There was a ton of laundry to fold, all the dishes in the dishwasher were ready to be put away, and AJ's room was a disaster. But my wife had to leave to get some work done around 12 and both boys were getting a little restless.
Obviously the chores were going to have to wait, so I decided to take the boys on a walk to their grandparents house. Mommy was gone for about 6 hours, so there was a lot of time to kill with these two little guys.
We didn't get home until about 9 pm. AJ still needed to get into his pajamas and read his bedtime stories before going to sleep. We read Skippy Jon Jones, The Cat in the Hat, and Coco, literally all his favorites.
He finally went to sleep at about 10. Then I put the books down, and looked at his room. I will never understand how such tiny humans can make such big messes. I could barely see the floor because there was so many books just everywhere. So as he slept, I cleaned it up. Took me a while, but it was worth it.
My wife was in bed feeding Santiago and she asked for some cereal because moms need their midnight snacks too. So I went to the kitchen and couldn't find a bowl, probably because they were all in the dishwasher. So I brought mommy her cereal, and I told her I was going to clean the kitchen and fold the laundry.
She looked at the clock and said "Right now?" I knew she had work the next day too, so I simply asked her "When else will I be able to do it?"
Staying up until 2 am doing chores wasn't how I planned my night to go, but that's what it was. But I actually enjoyed it, which led me to change my mind on the direction of this article.
I got to rewatch the Sixers playoff game while I folded the laundry, so it didn't even feel like a chore. As I sat there looking at all the folded clothes, I reflected.
My wife has a lot on her shoulders since she is breastfeeding. Now adding work into her schedule makes her day even more crowded. So I asked myself what I could do to make her life easier. If staying up until 2 am doing chores allows for her to get some sleep and spend quality time with Santiago, then it's not a chore at all.
I don't know about other moms, but I see how much my wife does on a day-to-day basis and it makes me want to be a better and more helpful dad. By no means am I perfect at it, far from it. But making a conscious effort to make sure all the little things are done for her so she doesn't have to worry about anything but working and taking care of our newborn. And cooking for us too, because everyone knows mommy makes the best food.
The night I never slept was more of a wake up call than a sleepless night. Thanks Santiago, AJ, and mommy for making me a better dad.
Life was going great as a dad. I was just learning how to deal with a child slowly growing into his "Terrible 2's." I was spending a lot of time with my son at home while my wife was growing her business at a rapid pace. I was devoting all my daddy time to one little guy and we were living it up.
And then one night I decided to not use the "Pullout Method." I knew right away what had happened. I text my best friend "Aye bro, I fucked up." Sure enough, about a month later my wife told me she needed to talk to me.
We pull up to her parents house, and before we walk in she shows me the pee stick. I wasn't ready to be a dad all over again, so my initial reaction was denial. I told her "Let's just wait and see." She didn't like that answer, for obvious reasons.
How could I do this all over again? The diapers, the bottle feeding, the sleepless nights, all while also trying to continue to raise another growing little boy. For the next two days at work, I don't think I said a word. My mind was somewhere a million miles away and my body was just on autopilot. I remember a coworker talking to me right in my face and all I could hear was the thoughts in my head.
We went to the doctor, and guess what, that pee stick ain't never lie! The denial phase was over, it was time to put the newborn daddy pants on again. People would constantly ask me "Are you ready?" and I would give an honest answer.
I wasn't ready to do it all over again. I was terrified. Sure we did a good job on the first one, but parenting ain't easy. The consistent work and teaching it takes to make sure that you're always being a mindful parent is draining. But damn is it worth it.
As the pregnancy continued, I started to get a little bit more excited day by day. But to say I didn't have a mental breakdown here and there would be a lie. Remaining honest with myself and those around me is what got me through.
I knew it was all going to be another big challenge, but the thing that I forgot about was how natural it was all going to come.
All of the fears, doubt, and denial was forgotten about in a split second. The second I heard his little cry for the first time, it was a wrap.
I remembered that feeling I had with my first son, AJ. It's a unique feeling that is unlike anything else in life. It's a feeling of pure bliss, and you realize that nothing else in life matters. Santiago was a blessing from the beginning, I just couldn't fully accept it until he was here in my arms.
The best part about having a newborn baby is that they sleep like 18 hours a day. They just want to eat, sleep, and poop. The good life.
And at two weeks old, he is definitely living his best life. And his big brother is even more loving and caring than we could have imagined. It's a proud moment when Santiago is crying and AJ says "You're ok baby. I'm here, I'm here."
It's hard not to brag, but I have two beautiful boys. I can't be humble when it comes to that. Usually people will say "Oh my god your baby is so cute." And then will go home and be like "Goddamn that baby is ugly."
I sleep well at night knowing that people aren't lying when they tell me that our boys are some of the cutest kids they've ever seen.
But I can't take all of the credit. My wife is gorgeous and was so cute as a baby and little girl. I can honestly say I don't want any more kids, but I also wouldn't be opposed to a mini version of my wife.