They were right: sleep while you can
Our son is a little over a year old now. He's walking, sometimes wobbly-running. He likes pizza and screaming to make the cat dash away. He's pretty awesome but I'm fairly biased here.
The first few months were very hard. The next few months were harder.
We had a perfectly healthy little tiny human stick. He was not underweight or anything- everything checked out. But he was a long boy. And he had gastric troubles early on. We (mostly Megan) worked diligently to keep little boy fed, but he would spit-up most everything he consumed. As we worked through that... he didn't sleep, so we didn't sleep. 4-6 wakings & rockings each night. For nine months.
My son barely 2 weeks old and I'm back to the office. That felt kind of shitty. To be honest, I wanted to be home with my new family. It was possibly the best way I could provide at that point in time, but sincerely, paternity leave is an underrated benefit. (My employer was kind enough to grant me two weeks time, of which I am grateful, but I think a national standard would benefit our society.) Maybe the experience is different for most, since we were in the early months of a, and I can't believe I'm tying this but, still ongoing viral pandemic: we had no help. It was Megan, the first-time mom, and the baby, the presumably first-time baby, while I was gone during the bulk of the day.
This got really heavy for us both as she returned to work after 8 weeks. We have since been entrusting our then TWO MONTH OLD BABY to a revolving door of
complete strangers for 40+ hours a week. (Note: daycare workers are essentially pre-pre-K teachers, helping set the foundation of our child's life, and we're paying them like, $8.50/hr. What the heck?)
Back to my paternity point, I remember wondering what would be different if fathers had a guaranteed two weeks (or more; preferably more) with their wee ones. My experience, while fleeting, was still more time than most people get with their newborn children. I cherished the time, yes, but it was over all too quick. And then I'm trying to optimize some silly metric while my son is making his first coo, by example. Things that would soften the heart to bear witness to. A softened heart that I think might help a lot of our men, culturally speaking.
Anyway, I didn't sit down to make a paternal plea with the void. I was going to get into some of the trials of early parenthood, and particularly, the merits of sleep training. I'll save that for another day (circa 2022 or '23, at this rate). But I have to get ready for work, because that hasn't stopped since then. In fact, my wife and I realized we hadn't had a vacation since July 2019... 25 months ago. And our next trip is going to involve this little ball of fluff that has, so far, never had to experience a car ride >30 minutes.
Our motto through this whole thing has been that it's getting 1% better each day. It doesn't feel like much and it's immeasurable most of the time, but compounded over time, it makes all of the difference.