Paternity leave is the greatest idea the human race has ever had

If my hazy concepts of “day” and “night” are still reliable, then we’re about to spend our third night in the hospital. Kate and the little one are recuperating nicely, and chances are good we’re heading home tomorrow.

I’ve taken a few weeks off, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m glad in a way that this happened on a weekend, because on weekends there’s less of a schedule to shatter with constant baby needs and intermittent pockets of sleep. I know we’ve only been parents for a day and a half, but it starts at full speed, and already I don’t feel confident about my chances of easing back into a regular schedule. I’m certainly glad I’m not supposed to be at my desk at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Mind you, there’s also a certain freedom in that. I like to get a lot done in a day, and as a result I do tend to subject myself to a pretty heavy level of routine. It’ll be nice to shelve any need for a sense of structure in my day, and simply tackle the demands of the moment. We’ll still be busy as hell, but the things we’ll be doing are things we’ll genuinely need to do, instead of just habits we’ve adopted in order to feel productive.

People are already telling us to enjoy every moment, and we certainly hope to try, although I know there are bound to be plenty of moments that won’t be at all enjoyable. Maybe it’s better to simply try and be present in every moment – to focus on what’s happening and do what we need to do, instead of worrying about a bunch of unrelated nonsense.

If I can develop that kind of attitude, then great. If I can take it back to work, or into other aspects of my life, so much the better. If I can be at work when I’m at the office, be a dad when I’m with my daughter, and be relaxed when I’m on my own, I figure I’ll be living a well-rounded life without too much stress or sacrifice.

Easier said than done, I’m sure, and big talk for a guy whose kid was literally born yesterday. But I’m lucky enough to have a few weeks to focus on my family and set all the rest aside. Let’s start there, and see how it goes.

What do you think? If I’ve learned one thing this weekend, it’s that we’re lucky enough to know plenty of parents who are happy to share their advice and experience. What do we need to bear in mind as we take this baby home?

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4 Responses to “Paternity leave is the greatest idea the human race has ever had”

  1. Brent M says:

    Congrats Matt! Sounds like you have a very good attitude about the whole thing. I had a month off with my little one, and I agree with the sentiment about leave being the most fabulous idea around. Imagine this: about 30-35 years ago, women were lucky to get six weeks!!

    Anyway, the view from two months in is equally spectacular. Here’s some advice from the “wish I’d known” column: GET A LACTATION CONSULTANT. Have them come in and do a few housecalls over the first two weeks. We were sent home and told all was well, but our daughter wasn’t latching well to the breast, something that’s not apparent over the firsr week or so with the baby’s mouth so weak. Fast forward a month and breastfeeding was excruciating, with shredded nipples, breast infections, you name it. We (my wife!) toughed it out and things are mostly healed now, but all could have been avoided with some timely pointers from an expert. It’s well worth the couple hundred bucks, trust me.

    Anyway, I’m sure you’ll do just fine, and will no doubt be ‘present’ in every moment. It’ll be great, and I assure you that even the challenging times are fabulous.



  2. Amber says:

    I found the lactation clinic at Sinai was great. You should make appointments, but they have drop in too I think. They were really helpful and we went back every couple of days to make sure we were getting the hang of everything. I think we went 3 or 4 times in the first week after we came home. Definitely worth the schlep back to the hospital.

  3. Polly says:

    Hey Matt,
    I agree that “enjoy every moment” is not exactly the right sentiment, although every little blue-hair who meets your daughter will tell you to do exactly that. It’s difficult to enjoy baby poop that leaks out of the diaper and onto everything, or the moments when your daughter is shrieking and you have no idea why.
    But if you really take time to savour the sweet moments, to take time to memorize the scent of your baby’s hair and the curve of her cheek when she sleeps, then I think you’ll have mastered parenting a newborn.
    Other than that, the one thing we have really learned over the past year of parenthood is not to worry. We don’t worry if Alexa misses a nap or gets to bed late. We don’t stress if she eats poorly one day. I learned to ignore the parenting books (all they did was make me feel like a lousy person), and go with teaching the rules for being a decent human: share, don’t hit, be gentle with people and books, brush your teeth before bed. As a result, we have a pretty sweet-tempered, adaptable little one-year-old.

  4. Kelly O says:

    Congrats, Matt and family!