Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Pamper Panic

The term expecting frustrates me immensely. I understand that you're pregnant and expecting to have a child, but being this is my first child, I honestly have no god damn clue what to expect. Aside from the cliché parts - no sleep, changing diapers, and being introduced to the love of your life - I'm completely in the dark. I try to read up on stuff to get a clearer picture of what's coming, but there is so much contradictory information out there it makes my head spin. Top that off with the insane marketing tactics utilized by the baby retail industry and I don't know how anybody doing this for the first time knows what to expect.

Kay and I were out and about, checking out our local baby stores and we walked into the hell on earth that is Buy Buy Baby. That store was not made with the first time parent in mind, with floor to ceiling marketing of baby doohickeys, and ruzzlestumps, and whatever the hell else the industry is trying to convince you that you need to keep your baby alive - that place is a living panic attack. All I want to know is how to take the best care of my impending child and that store made me feel like all I have to look forward to is my impending doom.

When it comes to learning how to use a new tool, or learning how to wire a garage, I usually just look up an instructional video on YouTube. I don't put myself in any situations where I could cut off my foot, or set the house on fire - maybe just lose a few bucks from extra materials from making small mistakes. Things are different with a child than with a piece of wood, I can't just toss it on the scrap pile if I mess it up. It's not that I'm incompetent or anything, I mean I've kept my suicidal dog alive for over year, and if you've read my previous posts about him you understand the incredible feat that is in itself. I just know what I don't know, and that's pretty much everything.

The anxiety was building up inside for a while and the longer I thought about it the more terrified I became. My stress in the whole situation culminated when I was at work and I got an alert on my phone. I have one of those apps that tells you how big your baby is, only mine is for expectant fathers and compares the size to lumberjack, wilderness-themed items like beaver tails and axe heads. The app alerted me that we had reached 21 weeks in the pregnancy. Out of curiosity, and naivety, I Googled how long a pregnancy lasts - 40 weeks. 40 WEEKS?!! WE'RE OVER HALF WAY!!

I lost it - I frantically started searching the internet for some kind of course, any course that would teach me how to make my baby not die. I found a number of listings for labor and delivery courses, but nothing on how to take care of a newborn. So I started searching for the best books for new parents, but the vast majority of books I found were geared towards the mother. Eventually, I found a couple handfuls of books that were specific to new dads, but upon reading the reviews they apparently were just condescending advice pieces for the stereotypical dad - "Don't go out for wings with your buddies so often.", "Offer to babysit once in a while so your partner can have a break." Babysit? It's called parenting you douche! This garbage did not at all resonate with the kind of father I plan to be, and only served to fuel my fear.

When I couldn't find what I was looking for, I texted Kay in a panic explaining my frustration - she answered nonchalantly, "Calm down, we'll figure it out" - this was usually my line! She's the pregnant one with all the hormones and I'm the basket case losing my mind because I don't know how to change a diaper. When she realized the level of freakout I was having, Kay called me at work to talk me down off the ledge. She did this by explaining to me how you go about changing a diaper and the differences between changing a boy's diaper and a girl's diaper. I'm quite confident I could have figured it out on my own, and it wasn't the largest part of my worries, but this new knowledge gave me the confidence I needed.

Kay sent me a bunch of links to some decent daddy-focused parenting websites - one of which uses car metaphors to categorize its subjects (I guess not all stereotypes are bad). I also ended up finding a couple of books on Amazon and having them overnight shipped to my door. It turns out learning how to care for a baby is similar to learning how to use a new tool, you have a little bit of upfront anxiety, it costs you a few extra bucks to figure it out, but in the end you have a new skill you can use for a lifetime.

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