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9 insights into becoming a father

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I can’t believe it’s already been six months since my wife Alex gave birth to our little Katerina. I don’t think that there can be a period of your life when you’ve got a learning curve as steep as during the first months of parenthood. So in this post I want to share some of the things I learned. Of course these insights are quite personal and by no means universal, but I still hope you’ll find this interesting.

Step-by-step:

Having a baby is not overwhelming. After Katerina was born I spent most of my time admiring our little bundle of cuteness. Mothers are occupied with learning how to breastfeed. Once in a while you have to change a diaper – at this stage they do not smell at all. Everything then happens very gradually. At the beginning our Katerina slept pretty much all the time and rarely cried. Her sleep time was slowly reduced. Her nappies did start to become a bit smelly after a few weeks, but there was plenty of time to get used to it. When she first turned on her back, she didn’t do it again until a week later. There is never a situation that is totally new and overwhelming. Everything is arranged like a well-organized university module giving you time to learn slowly and steadily. This is a real relief to young parents.

Love potential:

Within hours a new human being becomes the centre of your life. All of a sudden there is this new person and you’re willing to die for them. This is something I couldn’t quite imagine before Katerina was born.

Cuteness:

Yes, all babies are cute in their own way. But Katerina is the cutest baby I have ever seen. I have heard other parents say the same about their own children, so I can only assume that this is a universal phenomenon.

Poop:

I love my nephews, but I can’t help finding their snot, dribble, poo and pee kind of gross. With Katerina, however, from day one I felt completely comfortable. When she was three weeks old she actually projectile-pooped on Alex and me – we just laughed and thought it was funny. Nothing at all to worry about in this area.

Freedom:

Last week we got back from a road trip to Ukraine. Katerina actually loved it because we carried her all day and drove her around. We have also been to parties and bars, although this does become a little more difficult. It is obvious that you can no longer go clubbing or come home after midnight, but that was never really my thing anyway. Going to restaurants becomes actually more frequent because you have less time to cook. You also tend to leave those restaurants again after an hour when your baby becomes bored.

Friendships:

I have friends all over the world and I wish I could regularly stay in touch with everyone, but it is difficult to even see people in Leipzig. Spending time with family however is great fun because they tend to take care of the baby.

Parenting advice:

Friends and family will give you well-intended advice… on when your baby should go to bed, on why your baby is crying, on how to soothe her, on what she should wear or on how she should be put to sleep (this is a very basic list). However, nobody knows Katerina’s routines, cries and habits better than her parents. What I want to tell everyone is this: We know what to do and unless we ask for it, we don’t want your advice.

Obligations:

Yep, when you have a baby you always need to put yourself second. You might long for that moment when you can finally rest on your sofa and watch a movie, only to hear your baby crying in the bedroom, needing you to take care of her for another two hours. But that’s okay – it gives a new sense of meaning to your life that you’ve never felt before.

Sleep:

Since Katerina was born I don’t think I have had a single night of uninterrupted sleep. During the week I need to get up at 6:45 am, so I try to go to sleep at 11 pm, but lately she’s tended to wake up at least three times a night. I usually find it hard to get back to sleep afterwards. But that’s okay, you get used to sleeping less.

Having a baby never gets boring and there are always new challenges ahead. But it’s nothing you can’t manage. It always helps me to keep in mind that human beings share the prime directive of all life – reproduction. We are made to have babies so how could it be anything but fun??

Harald grew up in Großpösna, a village just outside the boundaries of Leipzig, but it is only after living elsewhere for four years that he really came to appreciate the city he was born. He is an idealist, a Christian, a socialist, a Europeanist, and, above all, a true Leipzig-lover. He will write about Leipzig’s history and politics, both of which are rather inaccessible to our English-speaking audience.

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