About the Author (Dad)
Operation Enduring Baby’s Mission Statement:
To provide advice and tips for new dads on surviving the initial months following childbirth and beyond. There’s a lot of advice out there for expecting mothers, but I’ve found there aren’t as many resources out there for the dads involved. It is my hope that in reading the adventures and mishaps contained within these pages that you will be better prepared to face whatever challenges come your way as a new father.
My name is Matt, and I’m a new Dad. Even as I type that I feel like I’m introducing myself to a support group, but if you think about it there are a lot of new dads out there that need exactly that. I know I did. I’ve served over 13 years in the Army, I’ve been across the United States and around the World, but I’d never experienced anything like I did back in November of 2014 when my first son was born. My wife and I will be celebrating our 3 year anniversary this coming August, but we began dating back in April of 2005. Back then we were young, and we like to think we’d learned from the things our friends and family had done before us. Everyone has those friends that wind up starting a family at a young age, and often it happens while they’re still struggling through college or not quite in that career they want to be in just yet.
So we’d both agreed early on that we weren’t going to start a family until we were financially stable and at least one of us was in a good career. That was back when we were in our early 20’s, and it took till just before my 30th birthday before we finally learned that it was happening. In March of 2014 we officially found out we were expecting. I’d had a feeling for awhile based on some of the things my wife was telling me that she could be pregnant, and as I’m want to do as the resident smartass in our house I kept endlessly joking with her everytime she mentioned something. She’d mention how she hadn’t been feeling well in the mornings and I’d just grin and say something like “Don’t worry it’s probably just the baby” followed by a quick duck to avoid anything being thrown at me in response. But when we got those first little ultrasound pictures confirming there was a little minion growing in there it turned from jokes to something very serious.
When it comes to this situation, every woman wonders how they’re significant other is going to react to the news that they are, in fact, growing a little human in them. This was the reason I wanted to wait until we were in a good place before something like this happened, because I knew it would affect my reaction to the news. Thankfully, we were in a good place, and we were ready for this next step in our lives, so my response was one of ecstatic excitement. The first thing I wanted to do was call everyone we know and tell them the good news, post it on social media for everyone to see. I had to hold off for a bit though. I hadn’t really been too aware of it, but it seems in this day and age you have to do a special ‘announcement’ picture, some kind of quirky little photo of the two of you that conveys the message ‘hey, we’re pregnant!’.
So there we were, expecting our first child after PCS’ing to a new city 900 miles away from both of our families. Like any expecting new dad I began scouring the web for everything from how my wife’s diet and the vitamins she took would effect the little person growing inside of her, to what to expect when it came time to deliver and what we would need to be ready once we got home from the hospital. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of good info on all of this out there on the web, but what I wasn’t really finding much of was information that was focused for the dad. Everything was always mom-focused. Sure the stuff on how to change a diaper or how to burp a baby is pretty universal, but all of the articles for mothers on breastfeeding and bonding as the child’s primary caretaker didn’t really speak much to what the dad’s supposed to do during this whole time.
In November we found ourselves at the hospital. My wife had been admitted a day earlier than expected. Our son had been ‘due’ on 2 November, but since my wife hadn’t shown any signs of being close to labor yet they went ahead and scheduled her to induce on the 5th so we could get this party started. After meeting with our doctor on the 4th we’d shared some minor concerns and he’d told us to go ahead and head over to the hospital she’d be delivering at to have them check it out. Better safe than sorry, right? They ran a few tests once we got there, and sure enough, labor had begun and she was officially admitted. Now when I say labor had begun, I mean she was starting to have minor, very minor, contractions. She couldn’t even really feel them yet, but according to the hospital staff they were.
So they wired her for sound there on the hospital bed and we dug in for the night. It wasn’t until around 1pm the next day that things started getting more serious, the contractions were getting stronger and it was time for the epidural (which, by the way, if your wife goes through a prolonged delivery with no epidural then you can never bitch to her again about anything that’s hurting unless you just lost an arm or something). Later that evening, around 6 or 7 she was to the point that they said it was time to start the delivery. Let me just say this: I’ve seen things I cannot unsee.
But as I stood there and watched that goopy little alien looking being be pulled out of her I felt a flood of emotions. Now earlier in the day they’d asked if I wanted to cut the cord when he came out, which after waffling about it for awhile I’d decided I wanted to do it and really be ‘part of the process’. But due to some minor complications once he was out they had to snip it quickly and make sure there wasn’t any goop blocking his airway (that’s about as easy as I can put it without getting into too much gory detail).
Once they’d gotten him cleaned up and confirmed everything was right as rain they finally brought me over to see him, and that was the moment that my life changed forever.
I had been around the world, from areas hostile and friendly, and figured raising a child cannot be much different than dealing with an insurgency. Only this one wore diapers and was capable of causing temporary hearing loss all while inflicting sleep deprivation levels that bordered on torturous. Never the less, when you are thrust into a position of command you cannot simply stumble your way through each day until moving to another assignment. Parenthood is a command assignment that lasts much longer and comes with seemingly more responsibility than leading a squad or platoon of soldiers. The idea behind Operation Enduring Baby (OEB) was borne out of social media status posts written in the form of situation reports laced with military jargon. Sure, a few people chuckled and got a kick out of it, but when we went home over the holiday and found out how much more of the extended family had enjoyed reading them the idea to begin OEB was born.
Meet the Command Team:
From Left to Right:
Mission Commander (that’s me): You know my name and that by some standards I’m heading closer to the side of ‘old dude’ than ‘young buck’. I’ve served in the Army for the past 13 years and spent time overseas on two separate occasions. I grew up in the great State of Texas but have moved around quite a bit since. More importantly however I’ve been lucky enough to be loved by that gorgeous gal since April 2005 and married since August 2012. Together we made that little guy in the middle happen, and we’re working on his younger sister/brother as we speak.
The Minion AKA hellspawn AKA bubba bear AKA booger AKA lil man: Okay, so his name is actually Forrest, and he’s the one that inspired this whole exercise in delirium. He was born on November 5th, 2015 (how convenient, we’ll always remember the fifth of November) and named after my Grandfather, a gentle giant of a man who served in the Navy during WWII. He’s quite the goofy little guy.
The Area Commander: The slightly younger and better looking half of the command team. We were both born and raised in the same City but didn’t find each other until 2005. There’ve been good times, and there’ve been bad times, but for some unknown reason she’s stuck by me through thick and thin. And she made that cute little lump of chunk and giggles, so hat’s off to her for that.
Any questions, words of wisdom, or just want to share bad dad jokes, feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com or hit me up on twitter @OEB_MissionCDR