My firstborn, a son, was born a little over a month ago. It turns out that newborns, despite their incredible cuteness, are needy and time consuming. Hence, I have not been as active here. Fear not my fellow RPC goers, I have been taking diligent notes along the way to share.
The following thoughts are in no particular order. Take them or leave them as you will.
Pregnancy is no excuse to buckle as captain
After I impregnated my wife (that shouldn't be a weird thing to say) I constantly received well intended but blatantly stupid advice from other men about how to navigate a pregnant women's hormonal mood swings, strange cravings, and more. Turns out, if you have established yourself as captain and have her deeply in your frame the best thing to do is nothing different. So that's what I did. Guess what? Our relationship continued to be easy and sex continued to be awesome the entire pregnancy. Sure, she had emotional episodes and some wild mood swings, but these are just bigger more obvious fitness / comfort tests. It makes sense. A pregnant woman is incredibly vulnerable and reliant on others for support. She wants to know you are going to remain solidly and reliably alpha. I tend to disagree with the "pregnancy is a time to show your beta side" advice that sometimes gets thrown around. The woman is the ”beta” in the relationship and she doesn't need another beta to care for the child, she needs an alpha who is going to fight off threats, hunt mastodon, and blaze a path forward for the family. This doesn't mean you don't change diapers and burp junior, but you do so because your legacy is worth building up the right way from the ground up.
A funny story, my wife and I were having sex while she was about halfway through the pregnancy. I was pounding away and she turned and said something hormonal like, "I need some reassurance that you want me". While I was inside of her. Rock hard. I think I told her that I wanted her because she was being a naughty girl, spanked her, and kept going. Later she told me she realized she was being crazy to question my desire for her in the midst of having sex. This whole event stood out to me because she has never asked something like that and I knew it was her being hormonal. Had I engaged her and stopped to explain all the reasons I found her desirable it would have likely derailed the whole thing. Maintain frame, AM, keep going.
Sex during pregnancy can be great.
My wife and I had regular sex (4+ times a week or more) throughout the pregnancy. One of our best times having sex in our entire marriage was during her second trimester. In fact, we had sex on the day she went into labor. Interesting point of note, my wife initiated more than I did.
Women in great shape fair much better.
It's a small sample size, but we know many women who were pregnant and delivered within a month of my wife. My wife was in the best shape of the bunch and continued to lift up until about the middle of the third trimester. She had the most straightforward labor of the bunch. In order of fitness, the rest of them followed. The least fit women had the hardest time with labor and required more medical interventions. We are convinced that several of them could have avoided complications simply by being physically stronger and having more stamina.
Fathers who lead don't have bitchy wives.
As with most things in life, there are good, bad, and plain stupid ways of parenting. There are infinite number of strong opinions on what the right way to do something (birthing, diapering, burping, sleeping, medicating, etc). Do your homework. Don't leave every decision up to your wife who has been hearing about the virtues of free-range organic grass fed upside-down breastfeeding of whatever the latest trend is from her girlfriends. Not everything matters, but some things do matter and by being involved, researching the issue, and making the decision you will not only improve your child's well being but your wife will see you leading your family and follow accordingly.
Many of the wives I know with the least respect for their husbands is because their husband saddles them with all the decision making for the kids. That's a ton of responsibility and first mates resent captains who leave all the hard calls up to them.
My wife has often expressed her appreciation for me taking the lead in deciding things involving our son. I delegate a lot to her, but she knows she can come to me for help making a decision if she is deciding between options. I have a cousin who's wife is a busybody who evidently makes all the decisions for their sons. The results are unpredictable and varying and it doesn't reflect well on him as their father. I don't want to be that guy and neither should you.
Babies have amazing frame.
You have no idea what a complete self-outlook is until you meet someone who has no ability to discern that other people outside themselves even exist. Despite your best efforts, their outlook cannot be changed and you inevitably end up bending your efforts (time, attention, money, etc) to suit their wants. Nothing to really elaborate on here yet, but it is fascinating to watch.
Never let your kid break your frame, especially not in front of your wife.
Doesn't this contradict the point above? Not exactly. My baby may not have the cognitive development yet to enter my frame, but that doesn't mean I need to fall into his. I admit, when my son is screaming his head off for reasons I have yet to diagnose, it can become frustrating. If I were to lose my cool because a baby was fussy, how could my wife trust that I won't lose my cool when a real problem arises?
Automate everything you can.
The newborn phase is not the time to skimp, pinch pennies, and save. Do whatever you need to do as quickly and easily as possible, or it will likely turn into a mess. You've been building your career and stockpiling funds for the war chest, right? Well now is the time to tap into that to make life easy for a little while. Spending extra on services and quality products that do the job easily is well worth it because simple tasks can require ten times more focus and effort to pull off with newborns. You want to automate or ease the repetitive undesirable things as much as possible so you can focus your time on more important things like sleeping, hitting the gym, reading, hustling, whatever.
Having a kid is not that expensive, if you're smart about it.
I've always heard that having children is extremely expensive, so I wanted to put it to the test. I asked my wife to start a spreadsheet. The used market for kid stuff is insane. Essentially new and perfectly functional items can be found at a tenth of the cost of buying new. If you ask around, a lot of other parents who aren't using their newborn stuff at the moment are happy to loan them to you. Some products, like cloth diapers, work far better than their disposable counter parts and save you a ton of money in the meantime.
Even the labor and delivery need not be all that expensive if you shop around and screen for insurance coverage ahead of time. So far we've spend about a third of what it would cost if we had done the easy thing and bought everything new. I'm sure costs will rise as our son becomes mobile and starts to injure himself or gets sick but from a pure material cost it is not that bad.
Going to the gym is more difficult now.
You're exhausted from getting terrible sleep. Your nutrition is probably not on point. The thought of going to the gym to lift heavy things sounds terrible. This is why being disciplined is far more important than being motivated.
Leaving the house to go to the gym also means leaving my wife alone with a newborn. It's doable, but it isn't fun. When junior spits up all over your wife, poops, and pees through his diaper and swaddle in about 30 seconds (this happened the other day) having a second set of hands goes a long way. A situation that is inconvenient can quickly turn into a major annoyance when you are on your own. Taking care of yourself and your crew is important. This doesn't mean you don't go to the gym, but it means you cannot be indulging yourself wasting time screwing around between sets. You go in with a purpose, execute, and get out.
Until some sort of "normal" rhythm is established maintenance is your primary goal. If you've been going to the gym 4-6 times a week, it may be time to shift to doing 2 full body days. That is the approach I took for the first few weeks. Those workouts sucked, but they kept my strength up. This week I've begun shifting back to a more normal routine. Not only did I maintain my strength, but I PR'd on bench and squat and matched my all-time-best PR on Deadlift.
It's not as hard as people make it out to be.
Having a newborn isn't that hard. It's challenging compared to life before-hand, but people who have an otherwise healthy newborn and essentially fall apart likely did not prepare before hand and are not adapting well.
Fatherhood is amazing.
I cried when I saw my son for the first time. I was so happy to meet my heir, my legacy, my protege who I hope outdoes me in life, love, and godliness. I think the last time I cried before that was at my grandfather's funeral way back in high school. Snapping my clavicle in half or having appendicitis? No tears. Crying over pain is for pussies. Crying for joy is for those who are blessed to experience such joy.