Cry baby Cry: How First Time Dads Can Cope With Not Being Wanted
*This article is strictly for the confused first time dads out there who go through the everyday struggle. This is to let you know that you’re not alone. If you know a new dad please share this with him. If you’re a seasoned father in the game please feel free to input in the comment section below.*
I’ve been a dad for five months now and it has been one of my greatest experiences to date. I don’t think anything could make me feel more accomplished than starting a family. I’m so excited for the future holds because I have all these plans on how I’m going to raise my son. I want to teach him about life. Play with him everyday. Discipline him when he’s wrong, and all the other great things fathers do. But there is a brief moment when you might feel like an outcast. Those first rough several months to a year can break you down and have you wondering if you even belong in the equation. The times when you can’t even hold your baby without him or her crying from your repugnant face. It gets better but in the moment it hurts like hell. I’ve gone through the struggle so I can give you some pointers on how to deal with a disgruntled little one or as I like to call them… The Daddy Destroyers.
First thing’s first, don’t cry. And if you have to cry, cry to yourself in a small dark room. In the first weeks of life for my son I was stepping on egg shells. Keep in mind that my son is a very calm baby. He sleeps all the way through the night. He’s very active during the day. And he’s very friendly to most people. But when he cries, he is bawling his eyes out. I’m talking about hands and arms shaking, pulling his hair, wiggling his little body violently. It’s almost borderline dramatic, but he’s a baby so we have to take it seriously. Most of the time he’s only crying because he’s hungry or tired, but the rest of the time he’s crying because I’m holding him. Again, I didn’t know how to deal with this in the beginning because it really felt like he didn’t want anything to do with me. He wouldn’t let me feed him, change him, hold him, and some cases look at him. It was nothing personal. It’s mainly because he spent all day with his mother and they have a special bond. I can’t blame him for that. Which leads me to my next point.
Don’t play the blame game. You shouldn’t blame yourself. You shouldn’t blame the mother. And you most definitely shouldn’t blame the baby. By month two, I was emotionally stressed. At this point I couldn’t even hold my son for more than ten seconds and my wife couldn’t leave the room without him crying. As soon as my wife took him from me, he stopped and would look at me like, “don’t you ever touch me again.” This is a true story… My son was crying frantically one day while I was holding him as usual. I held him for almost thirty minutes doing everything I could to make him stop. Finally, my wife had enough and offered to take him. In mid-transfer, he started smiling as soon as he saw her face, but I still had his legs. He sees me and starts crying again, but laughing when he sees her. He was literally crying and laughing at the same time! She took him away and they had their little laugh session to themselves. That built up so much resentment in my heart that I can admit that I emotionally checked out from being a dad for a moment. I was jealous.
Another time my wife and son had to stay overnight in the hospital to monitor his sleeping. It was a small room with another mother in there and fathers weren’t allowed to stay overnight. There was no wi-fi, no TV, and my wife’s roommate didn’t speak English so no social interaction. Naturally when I came after work, my wife wanted to get some fresh air because she was in that room all day. My son was sleep so she stepped out for a moment. Babies have this weird sixth sense about their mothers being gone because as soon as she left he woke up to my face. I did everything in the book to keep him from bursting into tears, but to no avail. He started crying like I was about to kidnap him and I could do nothing. The roommate was giving me looks like she was annoyed. All I could do was smile and nod my head. Finally, my wife stepped back in and of course he stopped immediately. I was so embarrassed. At home is one thing, but in front of strangers made me feel like I wasn’t even a father. DO NOT THINK LIKE THIS! Again, it’s not your fault. The baby is just super attached to mommy and that’s fine.
The failures alone were heartbreaking to say the least. I tried everything to appeal to my son more. I read books, I researched on the internet, I tried my own way, I tried my wife’s way, but nothing was breaking through for me. The only thing that was a proven method was time. I’m not a baby expert, so can’t claim to know what to do exactly, but there were glimpses of light every now and then. A little smile here. A playful giggle there. Every baby is different, but one thing is always constant… time will make things better and your time is coming. I didn’t do anything special to get where I am now. It came with patience, support from my wife, and believing in my relationship with my son. Which brings me to the pros to all of this. Yes, there is a good side.
Present day, I’m five months into fatherhood and my situation has improved by leaps and bounds. Again, I’m a lucky case so I’m not saying this will happen for you. It’s just how it happened for me. Me and my son are on a better wavelength now. I can hold him for as long as I want. He laughs and talks to me. My wife can leave us alone for hours and he never cries. There are moments where he’s just tired of being around daddy and wants mommy, but that’s where the pros come in. I’ve learned to accept my position and wait. So when I want to write or play PS4, but my wife wants me to watch our son, all I have to say is, “I think he’s going to start crying.” Sure enough, if I ask him “where’s mommy?” over and over again he’ll start to put the pieces together and cry when he realizes that she’s not around. But keep in mind that this can be a heavy burden for the mother so always try to help out in any way you can. Whether it’s washing the dishing, cooking, back rubs, or just a simple compliment on how good of a mother she is. Every small thing counts.
And if I can be honest for a second, once your baby becomes a toddler, you’re going to be like Superman to them. They’re going to come to you for all the fun stuff. I count down the days where my son will be physically capable of taking a choke slam through a mattress everyday. And if he gets hurt he can cry to his mother. Talk about karma. So just think of this first year of torture as an initiation process to the best parts of the rest of your life. Don’t be angry. Don’t blame anyone for your feelings of resentment. Help out as much as you can. And most importantly… be patient. Your time is coming. And when you see that smile for the first time because of you, you’ll know that it’s all worth it.
This is my son Julian. 5 months and a handful. But I love him to death. Just look at that smile!
Get in the comment section and tell me what you think. If you have more to add please don’t hesitate to start the conversation. Also, if you want to check out my debut novel, The Color of Love, you can click the link right under the cover. Thanks for reading.
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.