As some of you may know, my wife and I had our first child in January. We were very excited and also very nervous, or at least I was. We attended some pre-baby classes that our hospital provided. Men, be sure to attend these classes with your wife and pay attention! No matter how good you are at changing oil or playing sports; this is a whole new ballgame. Get my drift?
When we started going to the hospital for pre-baby appointments, there was a sign near the elevators with a pair of boots on it. I walked up to it and it read “Boot Camp for New Dads“. I knew right away that this was a class I was going to need to attend. The program is sponsored by “First Things First Richmond“, since we are in the Richmond, VA area. The meat of the program comes from a national organization called “Dads Adventure” and they sponsor “Boot Camp for New Dads“. It is the nation’s largest program for fathers, operating in 260 communities across 43 states, the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, and expanding internationally. Click on some of the links to see if what is available in your area or to start your own class!
I really had no idea what to expect going into this class. I wasn’t sure if I’d be changing diapers or watching some videos of births, but I felt it was essential that I had to go. When I arrived at the Boot Camp class, there were about 20-25 other “rookies (men with no children)” in the group and there were 3 veteran dads who had their babies with them. At first, I thought the veteran dad’s had just scheduled to come to the class a little too late, but I was wrong.
The class was from 9am-12pm and very well rounded. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and took off. The first hour consisted of questions and topics led by the facilitator. He would ask the questions and the veterans would give their input on the topic and talk about their personal experiences. It was great to hear each one of them give their own opinions. They all had a slightly different take on how to do it, but they all worked. The second hour consisted of one-on-one time with each veteran. We broke into 3 groups and had free reign to ask any questions. From what were absolute essential items; to what was their schedule like; to how they assisted their wife with the baby. This was great information. The final hour consisted of what I’ll call “straight talk” from another facilitator. He talked about the mother having the “baby blues” or depression and how to handle that. He talked a lot about crying babies and how we need to be very patient with them, and how under no circumstance are we to shake the baby! He mentioned safety tips; introducing the pets to the new family member; and baby CPR.
Overall, I was very impressed with the class. It was very professional and very well organized. They are able to pack a solid punch of information in a short amount of time. The veterans are the stars as they are hammered with question after question and handle it very well. I learned much more then I anticipated and walked away from the class feeling much more confident in my “new” daddy skills. As a point of mention, I want to say what my top three main things were as I walked away from the class.
NUMBER ONE was communication. Communicate with the mother to be about as much as possible now and keep it up after the baby is born. It is absolutely essential.
NUMBER TWO was pre-planning. Pre-Plan now! Pre-plan before you head to the delivery room; before you allow visitors over; before you have family visit and more. This goes back to number one.
NUMBER THREE was protection. You are the Protector and your wife is going to need you to step up! Whether it is helping her around the house; watching the baby and mother closely as others handle him; or making sure they are both safe and secure. It us your job to make sure this gets done!
I look forward to going back as a veteran someday! Be sure to check out the website links above and support an awesome program!
So let’s hear it veteran mothers and fathers.
What is your best piece of advice you can offer rookie parents?