February 03, 2022 - 5 min read
February 03, 2022

Becoming “Dad”

Your silliest self is your best self.

When we first found out my wife was pregnant, I of course wasn’t shocked because we had been trying.

She began calling her mom, friends, and doctor, but I sat there and didn’t call anyone. Even though this exciting news made sense, I had no idea what I was meant to do next or what this next chapter would be like.

Over the course of the next 9 months, I sat in parking lots and nervously paced at home while my wife went alone to all of her doctor’s appointments. 

Because of the pandemic, I was not able to participate in any of her in-person prenatal medical care, so I had to wait to get that text saying everything (hopefully) was still okay with our pregnancy. One time my wife texted me during an appointment saying that a nurse at the OB’s office said she thought something was wrong with the baby. I panicked for 20 minutes in the car thinking about what could possibly be wrong, but I still can’t imagine what it felt like in the moment for my wife to be in there alone. You see, I was just in the car, relatively comfortable, and my partner was the one carrying this bundle of nerves and burden of uncertainty. And that is sort of how it goes for becoming a father.

Our son was born on a Friday.

We had gone to the hospital for my wife’s induction the morning before. Remembering the hours leading up to our son’s birth is hard.  My wife’s epidural wasn’t working.  She was in tremendous pain and there were a lot of doctors in the room. They were going to try to replace it but eventually agreed it wouldn’t help after debating it in front us. The main OB was neither empathetic nor forthcoming and instead asked us what we wanted to do.  Either due to shock or naivete I’ll admit I wasn’t overly nervous considering the delivery doctors resolve these things all the time. Fortunately, our Doula was there so I didn’t have to be alone as they took my wife away for an emergency C-section under general anesthesia. There was no way that a natural birth was going to happen for her and it’s frustrating they didn’t figure it out for so long.

From the time they took her to the OR, to the time they brought our son out to me was about 30 minutes. I spent those 30 minutes talking with our doula about how this was the right decision, because my wife was suffering. They talk about “immediate skin to skin contact” but we didn’t even get that chance.  Instead an OR nurse wheeled my son into the recovery room where I was waiting. That perfect feeling of joy and relief of having him in my arms for the first time was at the same moment clouded by the uncertainty of my wife’s surgery just minutes before.

On the 7th day of my son’s life, I spent a night in our guest room because my wife told me that I was having a breakdown. 

She was probably right that I wasn’t able to adequately parent our son due to pure exhaustion. You might wonder how this happened. Supporting your partner is so incredibly important because the nature of our species is that the mother incurs way more responsibility, doubt, and frankly, decision-making authority than us dads do, a burden that does not get any less heavy after birth. I found myself running from our bedroom to the kitchen on the first floor, then back up again, then down again, then back up again, carrying pump and bottle parts.

The hours, the minutes – when we were lucky enough to get our son to sleep after a feeding, I spent that time trying to clean every inch of our kitchen. I thought what I was doing was necessary and important at the time. In hindsight, it’s so clear to me that while it is important to have clean items on hand, it is more important to spend time with your partner, especially when I could see my wife needed my love and support during her breastfeeding journey, particularly in those early days. Not everything in my kitchen or house in the first month of my first child’s life needed to be in perfect order. What was more important was spending time with my partner and asking her how she was feeling. I wish I did that more.

My advice to a new dad would be to try your best to be there together.

Be present. Not everything will be organized. I know it’s really hard but you have to lay down and take a break. Depending on who you were before you have a child, you have to accept the journey and that you’re no longer the guy who makes it to every guy’s trip or even a hang out to watch the game with your friends. You have to resist the urge to play on your phone or send text messages to everyone because that’s what you used to do in your past life: “let me check my phone”, “I need to check these e-mails” – but you don’t have the time to play on your phone when you need to sleep in those first few weeks.

This is my “new dad” reflection. I don’t necessarily do all of this, but I try. 

Becoming a dad is often contemporaneous with becoming a better guy. From my perspective, in order to be a better guy I needed to work at understanding and supporting my partner, asking her how she was, and asking what I could do to help. You just have to do your best to take care of yourself, your partner and your new baby. Try to not overthink. Make decisions and move forward.

We live in the Northeast and our winters are snowy and cold. I have a tab open on my phone with a baby snowsuit and I just haven’t bought it yet. Now it’s snowing outside and I think, “Why didn’t I buy that?”  But there is always so much going on and admittedly, I thought about it too long and then I forgot.  After we bathe, feed and rock our son to sleep, I just look forward to sitting on the couch to watch TV because I can’t go to bed without decompressing with some much needed couch time.  But my advice is to not hesitate to connect with your partner or get that silly toy or outfit for your child because you won’t regret it when you see the smile on their faces.

Your silliest self is your best self.

It’s a big life change, but when I look at my son I just can’t stop smiling. Sometimes I catch myself staring at him and have to hold back tears because of how much I love him. Sometimes when I’m holding him he tries to eat my nose and I can see how happy it makes him.  I usually wear glasses on the weekends just so he can pull them off my face and throw them on the ground because it makes him and my wife laugh. These are some of my favorite moments with my family.

I’m not the first one of my friends to have a child so I’m able to share these new and fond experiences with my friends and I would encourage all new dads to do that.  When you can live it together, it’s easier to become a better dad, and a better guy too.


Written by

Image of Michael Huber

Michael Huber

Michael Huber is a real estate attorney based in Philadelphia, PA and the proud husband of Tyler Sylk, the Creative Director of Bumpdate.  Tyler and Michael welcomed their son, River, in April 2021 and also share their dog, Ranger.  Michael has a passion for knowledge and looks forward to answering all his son’s questions about the world as he grows up.



  1. Barbara Sylk

    What a wonderful share of love and compassion. ❤️

  2. sam

    enlightened by this candid window into the capriciousness of early fatherhood. there’s awesome vulnerability in your experience.

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