Becoming a father was something I didn't expect to happen. I mean, my wife and I wanted to have kids, but as the years went by, we assumed that the stars weren't aligned for us. Now that Luke is seven months old, I've noticed a lot of changes that came with our bundle of joy.
Let me be clear: I love Luke very much. This post isn't intended to dissuade new parents or cast parenthood in a negative light. It's merely a record of some of the many things that dramatically changed after Luke came into our lives.
Sleep is a precious resource now that Luke is in our lives. Over the past seven months, we haven't had the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. That's any night. Ever.
Luke typically goes down around 7:00pm. Between then and when we go to bed between 10:00 and 11:00pm, we get chores done around the house that we can't do with a baby in the room.
By the time we hit the sheets, Luke is about an hour or two away from his next bottle. So, we end up waking up to give him a bottle and change his diaper anywhere between 1:00am and 4:00am. By 5:00am, if he wakes up, he's up for the morning. So are we.
We're lucky if we can get between four and five hours of sleep between Luke's interruptions. This isn't a permanent problem, but it definitely has an impact on our energy levels for the first year or two.
Luke eats every 3-4 hours. During the day, this means preparing some baby food and a bottle each time he needs to eat. He only drinks warm milk, and room temperature milk is likely to dribble out of his mouth.
In addition to his feeding schedule, he has to go down for a nap every 2-3 hours. His naps last about 30-45 minutes each.
So, if we want to leave the house with him, we need to find a time that fits between his feeding and napping schedule so we can leave the house and arrive at our destination while he's awake.
Needless to say, the odds of that happening when you need it to are low.
Going places with Luke is an exciting endeavor. Before Luke, if we wanted to go somewhere, we'd throw on some shoes and walk out the door.
Today, we have to pack a diaper bag with enough bottles, diapers, powder, formula, wipes, toys, blankets, hats, sunglasses, and changes of clothes that he might need for the trip. Even a quick trip to the store means doing some serious preparations.
We can't go anywhere without a car seat and a stroller. We've arrived at some places only to discover that the stroller was left behind. It sucked!
Once you're at your destination, you have to be at the ready for anything. Luke could have a diaper blowout at any moment. This requires a lot of quick thinking and access to a changing area.
Want to a watch a movie with your spouse? Good luck. Odds are, you'll be called away 3-4 times during the film to do things like feed or calm him when he starts crying for no apparent reason.
You'll also need to keep the volume down to avoid explosions or other sound effects from waking him up. Babies have an extraordinary sense of hearing.
When he's awake, you're going to be watching cartoons. What you think you want to watch doesn't matter. Cartoons and the Baby First channel is what you'll get.
Want to listen to music in the car? Children's songs it is!
When you're a teenager, and adults want to scare you away from doing things that result in the birth of children, money is usually the first and foremost subject of discussion.
Babies are expensive. Having them is expensive, feeding them is expensive, Clothing them is expensive. Housing them is expensive. Keeping them healthy and happy is expensive.
In a typical week, Luke takes in about $30 worth of formula and $15 in baby food. That's approximately $180 a month just for food. Health insurance, clothing, toys, furniture, etc. is just icing on the financial cake that is parenthood.
Rumor has it that kids get even more expensive the older they get!
There is no better thrill in life than bringing a new person into the world. Looking into the eyes of a little version of yourself, knowing that everything he sees is brand new to him. That's an incredible feeling.
Beyond the thrill of becoming a parent, providing for the child is gratifying. Everything you do has more meaning because it isn't about yourself anymore. You don't work for your next game purchase or smartphone. You're working for your child's future.
All of that aside, the joy of being a parent is not without its sacrifices. You lose some of the freedom you took for granted before. You have to make significant adjustments to virtually every aspect of your life to meet the needs of a new baby.
But, despite all of these things, the benefits of being a parent far outweigh the costs. I wouldn't trade Luke in for all the sleep in the world.