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6 Things that Shocked me about New Fatherhood

Posted by on March 25, 2013

You know how every blogger wants to write a book? Well, my good friends Tim and Olive actually did. In fact, they wrote two. And today is the launch of book #2! In celebration of this momentous event, Tim is here to tell us about the surprises of parenthood and we’ll be giving away two copies of his book! So read on, friends.

(You may remember Tim and Olive from our Dear Introverts/Dear Extroverts letters)

6 Things that Shocked Me about New Fatherhood

by Tim Chan

Before I became a first-time father, I prepared. I took a pre-natal class with my wife, asked other parents what their experience was like, and read numerous blog posts and books about the subject. But even with all that preparation, there were many things about being a new father that surprised and shocked me. No one warned me about these things (or maybe they did and I wasn’t paying attention). Here are a few:

1) The Massive Amount of Diapers to Change
How many times do you have to change a newborn baby’s diaper? 10-12 times PER DAY. The number shocked me. I felt like all I was doing was feeding, rocking, and changing the baby. It didn’t help that the baby cried almost every time I changed her. Those dirty diapers created a lot of garbage, which is one of the main reasons we decided to use a cloth diaper service in Vancouver.

2) The Near-Impossibility of Clipping a Baby’s Nails
A newborn baby’s nails are tiny. And they get very sharp. We found that out the hard way, after our baby left scratches all over her face. I lost rock-paper-scissors to Olive and was left to the super difficult task of using a tiny nail clipper to cut the baby’s teeny-tiny nails. I was so afraid of clipping her fingers (which I have done a few times, causing her to bleed). It was even more difficult because the baby was constantly moving her hands.


3) Stay-at-Home-Fathers are still a Small Minority
I took paternity leave from work the first few months to help my wife care for our baby. Sometimes I would take the baby out to the baby story time at the library, or the baby drop-in time at the YMCA. I was almost always the only father. It shocked me because with so many women in the workforce, I expected at least a few more stay-at-home-dads.

4) The Length of my Wife’s Post-Labour Recovery
It took more than one month after our baby was born before my wife was near full strength. She had a 2nd degree tear during labour, which meant it she had to be stitched up and needed time to heal. It was hard for her to sit, shower, go to the washroom, and even walk. That meant that I took the majority of the baby-caring duties that first month (with the exception of breast feeding).

5) The Complexity of Breastfeeding and Pumping
All the movies and TV shows I’ve seen portraying women breastfeeding (including all the videos we watched in our pre-natal class) made it seem like breastfeeding was natural and quite simple. Our experience was quite the opposite. Our baby never really got the hang of breastfeeding, and after a few frustrating nights of feeding, Olive decided to use a breast pump instead. This made it possible for our baby to drink breast milk. But learning to use the breast pump system wasn’t simple.

6) The Joy a Baby Brings
When Olive was pregnant, we were excited for the baby to be born. But I never expected the joy the baby would bring into our lives. I was enamored by her, and watched her sleep, eat, stretch, yawn, and burp with great delight and wonder. Our families loved the baby as well, and were so happy to see her and spend time with her. Both my wife and my parents are from out-of-town. They usually come to see us once a year. But that first year after the baby was born, my in-laws doubled their visits and my parents tripled their visits. I guess part of it was that this was the first grandchild on both sides.

Being a father was a brand new experience for me, and required much adjustment and learning along the way. My wife and I just released a book about our reflections and experience as first-time parents. It’s called, “Then Came the Baby: The Wonder, Mayhem, and Hilarity of Our First Year as Parents”. Click on the link to watch the book trailer.

Then Came The Baby - cover

So, friends, that’s Tim! To celebrate their book launch, I’ll be giving away 2 copies of Tim and Olive’s new book. Here’s how you can win:
1. Subscribe to our blog.  It’s simple – just enter your email in the sidebar widget (top right) and click “Subscribe”.
2. Share the link to this post on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Leave a comment on this post, telling me what you did (One comment/entry for each action).
Be sure to leave a comment telling me what you did before Thursday night. I will randomly choose 2 winners on Friday, so check back on Friday to see if you’ve won! Tim will send you a copy of the ebook if you’re chosen. And if you’re not, you can always check it out for yourself. Happy Monday!

About the author:
Tim is a cheerful pessimist and always thinking. He proposed to his wife Olive with a goat (and no diamond ring). They both blog about thoughtful marriage, parenting, and live at and live with their daughter near Vancouver, BC.

About Us photo

4 Responses to 6 Things that Shocked me about New Fatherhood

  1. Beth (@bethaf)

    Ooh, my sister has a brand new baby, and I bet she would enjoy/appreciate Tim & Olive’s collective wit and wisdom. (pick me!)

    Tim, mad-props to you for staying at home – I have read blogs/pieces from a few dads who have found it difficult, both socially and in terms of assumptions made. I think it’s GREAT.

  2. John Rafferty

    I shared it on twitter and will email the blog to a few friends. Great reading both in the book and on the blog!

  3. David


Thoughts? I love hearing from you!