8 Confessions of a New Dad

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!) so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting one of the most popular posts from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on June 27, 2011…

Today I’d love to talk about new fatherhood. On the three-hour drive home from the beach this weekend, Alex and I started talking about parenthood, and he revealed a few funny and surprising thoughts on our first year with a baby. Here were his eight confessions, in his own words, below…

1. “I didn’t bond with the baby right away.”
The experience of fatherhood is thrilling, but so hard at the same time. I loved Toby from the second I saw him. But the first few months, to be honest, were pure adjustment. The baby is so helpless, and you’re so clueless, and you don’t have that strong chemical, hormonal and emotional bond with the child, in the same way the mother might.

You spend the first six months of your baby’s life cramming this giant rule book. You have to learn everything — how to hold the baby, how to swaddle, how to change a diaper. I had never played with dolls or even babysat, so it was totally, totally new.

I did enjoy it — it was a fascinating odyssey and deeply satisfying — but, secretly, at the same time, if Joanna had walked in and said, “My mom’s going to take over for the next month,” I would have been thrilled.

2. “Time alone with the baby was surprisingly profound.”
Even though I felt so lost overall, I was surprised by how spending time alone with Toby felt natural and surprisingly not scary. I remember the very first night we had Toby at home. Joanna was in bed, and I had four hours alone with him. He was sleeping in the bassinet next to me, and started to stir. I realized that he had never heard music before and that I got to pick out the first song he’d ever hear. I felt like I had a hand in shaping his destiny. Choosing a song on iTunes suddenly felt profound! I decided on “Penny Lane” by The Beatles. It was bright and optimistic, like the first day of spring. It was a magical moment.

3. “My wife acted like she was on drugs.”
Up until you have a baby, whatever happens, you and your wife pretty much respond the same way. You’re on the same wavelength. But once the baby arrives, every thing that happens, your wife has a 90-degree different take.

Joanna’s highs were higher, and her lows were lower. Her general joyfulness was so high; she was starry-eyed and blissed out. On the flip side, she was more anxious. She was more inclined to take any negative thing to heart—such as Toby fussing while we changed his diaper. I figured his fussing was a small, unfortunate but inevitable thing, but it felt incredibly urgent to Joanna. She got really upset by his crying — for her, it was like an alarm clock was going off inside her. She had an extreme surge of anxiety at any possible sign of disturbance to Toby, whereas I would address his crying but it wouldn’t bother me on an emotional level. I just thought, Oh, all babies cry, he’ll be ok.

It’s like being with someone on drugs. You’re on a different plane. You look at your wife, and you have to imagine, ‘What exactly are you feeling? How does the world look to you right now?’ Then you have to figure out how to respond the way she would want.

Everything does come back down to earth again. Joanna no longer felt those extreme surges at both ends of the emotional spectrum and became more like her old self (which is a relief to her, too), and I got more acclimated and felt like my old self. By about month nine, we found ourselves settling back into our old rhythms and feeling like ourselves again (see below:).

4. “I was nervous that my wife would like the baby better.”
Maybe it sounds crazy, but a great fear I always had about having children was that my future wife might like them better. In many of my friends’ families growing up, the husband was basically replaced by the kids. There’s nothing more primal than the love between mother and infant. I was absolutely worried about being dropped a notch.

Once Joanna was putting Toby to bed and I heard her tell him, “You’re my favorite person in the whole world, do you know that?” and I was thinking, ‘Really? What about me?’ It sounds ridiculous, but it was an adjustment not to be the only man in her life. But in the end, I saw that our marriage could never be replaced by a baby — it’s such a different thing. That realization was a huge relief.

5. “Children’s books are boring.”
I love spending time with Toby, especially when we go on walks or play the guitar. But some baby activities are s-l-o-w. Joanna seems to have a capacity to step outside herself and see things through the baby’s eyes, like reading children’s books. But to me, children’s books are fundamentally boring. Like, mind-numbing. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is tough sledding.

6. “Everything turned a corner at nine months.”
I once heard a theory that babies are inside the womb for nine months, but that they remain in the gestational period outside the womb for the next nine months.

Everything changed when Toby was nine months old. One day, Toby didn’t seem to know who I was (or care!). But the next evening, I got home from work, and Toby was eating dinner in the high chair, and he looked up at me and smiled and shrieked and did jazz hands. He recognized me! It was amazing. I felt like we had truly connected. Honestly, for the first time, he didn’t only feel like my baby, but like my son.

7. “I daydream about the future with Toby.”
I often daydream about Toby growing up: listening to music, taking him on boats, teaching him how to cook a great omelet, telling stories about “the old days.” I always picture us on hikes for some reason — even though I don’t really go on many hikes. My father and I used to sit around for hours some nights and plan my future, and I love the idea of being on the other side of that conversation. I also look forward to imparting lessons that my dad didn’t give me — like how to ask people out.

8. “I’m ready for another.”
With your first baby, it’s really tough. Every day is a surprise. But now I know that I can do it. Raising a child for the first 12 months of their life is a skill I now have. Having a second baby? Believe it or not, I can’t wait. :)

Thank you, Alex!

P.S. Funny dad texts and 15 things I’d want to tell a new mother.

  1. Lori S. Biesecker says...

    It’s interesting to read the comments about wanting to equalize male nurturing of children (babysitting as a teen, etc.) with female responses, in contrast to what the dad in the article explains as his observations. The child’s mother’s responses to the baby are not portrayed as learned behavior. Food for thought here as we navigate a society which is changing definitions of gender at a rapid pace.

  2. Simone Hope says...

    I read this post when I was 20 and I still think of it a few times a year. Especially the part where Alex chose Toby’s first song. I don’t know why but I’ve carried that with me for almost 9 years.

  3. Sandra B. says...

    I loved this post!!!
    Wow!!! He is an awesome father!!! I can’t believe Toby will 10 this May!! How nice you both have two boys!⭐️??

  4. Preethi says...

    What heart warming write up! It touches your soul!

  5. Katie W says...

    Penny Lane! Great song choice. My 1.5-year-old daughter is named Penny, so we played Penny Lane for her on the drive home from the hospital. It was such a sweet moment!

  6. All the comments reminded me of my brother. One of his ex-girlfriends got a baby (not his) and he used to visit them just to “chill with the baby” or even meeting her when she had some errands to do, so he would join to “carry the baby”. They don’t live in the same area anymore but remembering this makes me look at my brother (and my life) in a different way. In case I will decide to have kids, I’m sure they will have a great uncle.

  7. Molly says...

    I love this so much!! So sweet & honest & just utterly lovely. xoxo

  8. I did a true laugh out loud at the “baby book are boring”. So funny…great and honest post.

  9. Emma says...

    I’m loving re-reading all of the pregnancy and baby posts now that we are expecting our first child in August!

  10. Emma says...

    I hope those who commented in 2011 saying they had babies see this again and marvel at their 9 year olds!

  11. NN says...

    I love this. Thanks to Alex for being so vulnerable and sharing this with us.

  12. lkb says...

    After each of my first two kids (now 8 and 5), at some point, my husband said some version of “I feel like I’m not important to you anymore”. It was awful to hear both times, but I’m glad he told me. I assumed that he would accept that–of course!–the baby takes highest priority, and I was just focused on feeling like me again: taking care of the baby (and older sibling), getting out to exercise, working, etc. For me, just being around my husband and parenting together (kind of) was enough. But he felt lost.

    The third time around has been different. I don’t know if it’s that we’re much less anxious overall. Or maybe the two older ones are old enough that they don’t require such focus from us. Or we just have better kid-centric routines that still allow us to really BE together in the evenings, once everyone is asleep.

    Regardless: third time’s the charm ;)

  13. celeste says...

    Second read through (remember original) – my kids are 12 and 10 and it’s amazing how getting away from all that baby stuff, your mind is clearer. I was so sleep-deprived for the first six months. Agree with all assessments.

  14. Bernadette says...

    Thank you for reposting this! My brother and his baby mama (they are not together) are unexpectedly having a baby. He’s much younger than my family thought he would be, but he is totally leading the charge in adapting to this change in his life-path. I saw this post and immediately sent to him. He reminds me so much of Alex: cool as hell. I can’t wait to be this little nuggets aunt, but I’m even more excited to see the profound father my younger brother will be, and this post gave me a sense of calm about all the unknowns my brother is facing. Thank you for this great blast from the archives!

    • Bek says...

      Congratulations on becoming an aunt! That’s marvellous. PS. You sound like a truly amazing sibling, all the best to your brother on this next adventure! ?

  15. Annie K. says...

    I hope at least one person or couple reads this and watches Mike Birbiglia’s Netflix stand-up special The New One. It was so funny and also so captured the difference between mine and my husband’s reactions to our new babies. We both laughed out loud and made us feel seen.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      going to watch tonight! thanks for the recommendation!

    • ruth says...

      it is sooooooo good! my husband and i regularly reference it.

  16. Anu says...

    Thank you for reposting this! I think I read this this when it was first posted (gosh, I’ve been reading Cup of Jo for a long time!) and it didn’t really mean that much to me as I was so far from that stage of life. But now I have a 2.5 year old and another baby on the way and it resonates so much!

    My husband definitely confessed #1 to me at around the three month mark if I remember – he said he felt disconnected from the baby and I remember feeling quite distressed about it. But now at 2.5 years old he’s soooo bonded to the toddler and in fact the toddler usually wants him for middle-of-the-night wakeups (yay!). But those first few months are so intense and so much about the physical connection between mom and baby that it’s easy for dad to feel left out.

    I agree also with #3 strongly – I really did feel like a different person for much of that first year – like I remember thinking that I wouldn’t stress about breastfeeding and then I was a complete loony about breastfeeding. I’m making similar resolutions this time around and somehow I think I’m going to break them again.

    And yes both my husband and I would agree that children’s books are boring… well at least the vast majority of them. But I think we’ve each found our niches now – I love to read just about anything from Julia Donaldson, for example.

  17. Marcie says...

    This is a favourite! So informative for dads, and yet relatable for moms too! Great repost! Thanks!

  18. canela says...

    Speaking to #6, it’s like babies know not to emotionally invest in a man until they prove their presence is ongoing…fascinating!

    I think maybe more teen boys should babysit – I had a friend with a full-time nanny job when we were in our twenties and I thought he was brilliant. Honestly it made me respect him so much as a human.

    Actually anyone considering having a child should make babysitting at least a couple times a must-do. Crazy to think we are allowed to bring children into the world with ZERO understanding of what’s about to go down.

    • Brooke says...

      Oh I love this Canela! It would be so neat to normalize and equalize the care of children between men and women. No one male or female has to be all about babies or babysitting – just more exposure of care of littles in any way for young men would be great. Do other countries do this better than U.S.? (please tell us global CoJ friends ;). And even for me, as a woman in her late 30’s who doesn’t have children, knowing how to tune into and empathize with people of all ages has made my life richer.

    • celeste says...

      My son has begged for a “boy babysitter” for years – every teen boy we’ve asked has no interest. :(

    • Janey says...

      My teenage son babysits 2 little boys aged 8 and 6. I feel like he brings a whole different approach than perhaps a girl babysitter would. When I ask how he entertained them he says stuff like “well they wrestled for about an hour so I built them a wrestling ring out of cushions and gave them scores” He sometimes takes his guitar and teaches the older one some simple tunes. Sometimes they build worlds which are attacked by dinosaurs. Apparently they get the parents to go out on dates so they can get a babysitter. The parents are very generous employers and always pay for a taxi home so it seems like a win win for all parties! Really not sure why boys don’t babysit more!

    • Leia says...

      Brooke: I live in Singapore and unfortunately the gender norms when it comes to childcare in this part of the world is on the whole even worse than in the US — the burden of childcare falls almost squarely on the mom, there is no govt sponsored childcare/daycare. BUT, what we do have is legally mandated 3 months’ maternity leave and I think 2 weeks for paternity leave. People don’t really hire teenage babysitters here for a night out on the town, either. (That seems to me to be a uniquely American convention, I think, although I could be wrong about this!) Parents here mostly just pack up all the kids and tote them along to make it a family outing! So most restaurants are family-friendly, except for the most high-end 5-star outlets. But if they had to, they’d leave the kids with relatives. Or for those who can afford it, their live-in maids, who usually come from neighboring countries like Indonesia or the Philippines.

      As far as early exposure to taking care of kids goes, I find that it really depends on the family — my observation is that if the parents encourage big brothers to take care of their younger siblings, boys will be better at dealing with littles. I do have a whole bunch of teenage nephews and one of them is *really* great with kids — they tend to gravitate towards him because he really gets on their wavelength and connects with them. It’s really sweet to see. But I have to say that’s more a function of his personality specifically, because his 3 other brothers are less than enthused about kids! Also because boys in general aren’t really brought up to be nurturing in Asia, which is still a mostly patriarchal society — that’s culturally still more the domain of girls, who’re conditioned to be the caregivers and nurturers.

      Sorry to be such a downer, but I gotta say, this is a big part of why I decided against having kids in this part of the world.

  19. AB says...

    This makes me so hopeful for what my partner and I are about to experience. We’re welcoming our first baby in August :)

    • Carrie says...

      We are just a couple months behind you, first baby coming October! Congratulations!

  20. Amy says...

    One of my favorites!

  21. Dad says...

    My biggest challenge was dropping my social life for this little person. I always was the type to have a big social life and do things when ever and whatever I wanted. Since I was pretty much 16 I am now 30. And I still have a lot left in me to socialize and party. My son has taken what I love most away from me. I still do everything for him but it feels like an obligation rather than parenting. It tough. My wife wants #2 and I just want my life back.

    • Ana D says...

      I feel less powerless and come up with better ideas for how to meet my own needs when I take ownership for my decisions. Then I have control.

      Consider thinking about it this way: Your son hasn’t taken what you love away from you; you’ve made these choices of your own will.

      That mental switch might be worth trying out. Good luck, comrade. You and your son and your wife all deserve good and full lives, and there’s no single right path.

    • Amy says...

      There are many days where I find myself thinking “ugh, I have to ____”.

      Occasionally I remind myself to reframe it as “I *get* to _____”. Yeah, walking my kids to school in the rain isn’t top of my list.

      But I *get* to walk my kids; we live in a safe enough area, we’re all healthy enough to walk, the outside time ultimately does us good even if the weather isn’t ideal.

      It helps me when I’m feeling robbed of the “easier” life without kids (grass is always greener, etc).

    • t says...

      Dad, I am a mom and feel your comment so hard. Like where is the fun? Mine are getting older though and it is getting a bit more fun. Until around 4 years old it was just work for me. Hang in there.

  22. I enjoyed this post! Actually made me feel better. My fiancee and I have a 3 month old and it has just been crazy. I actually have two daughters 4 and 5 and so I wasn’t new at parenthood.

  23. Annie says...

    I read this post years ago when I was in grad school and thought nothing of it. We now have a 4 month old baby and I feel like this really resonates with my husband’s and my experience. I appreciate the honesty — I find that rare when people talk about parenting.

    • txilibrin says...

      Come to my household :D
      I’m the mom in the gathering that complains as to how their kids took over her life, apparently, everyone else is OK with it :D The one that complaints about kids waking up at 5:30 E V E R Y D A Y. ANd I share that with pregnant people or people that might want kids.

      I miss myself. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

      Note, I do love having to work late some times so when I get home everyone is sleeping already :)

  24. Oz says...

    Thank you so much for writing this post! My wife asked me to read it and at 4 months in, I feel this is spot on. What a relief! Funny enough, I thought baby books were boring too until I started reading them in different voices and accents. My daughter would be entertained and so would I.

  25. Oh I LOVE this post! I also love your husband. Is that allowed? ;)

  26. you guys are amazing! thanks for sharing your experience! you’re such an inspiration. God bless you!

  27. I just read anonymous posted at 5:28. I think it is wonderful if you read aloud to him books, articles that you are interested in rather than senseless baby books. The baby WILL benefit as much, if not better from your interest and inflectional tones.
    I don’t have a direct link to you it does not seem so I hope you check back here. Please check out my latest (and all of them – I only have 25) for they are written for first time parents from the perspective of fatherhood. Your wife and best friend will come back to you many times over within months. Use this time to catch up on your inner self. That is important too.

    • L says...

      Yes it is totally ok for Dad to read his own favorite books to baby! I was dozing off in the hospital the day I gave birth and I woke up to my husband reading Karl Marx to my newborn daughter. She becomes so calm and happy whenever she hears his voice–it doesn’t matter if he’s talking politics or engineering, she just likes to hear his attentive tones.

  28. Thanks for sharing the father’s viewpoint. I saw this through ‘Free range Learning”‘s fb page, so first time on here. I hope you don’t mind but I am a father writing a blog, posting 2x per month. The only difference is that my daughter is now 27 years old. I’m just giving back to first time parents. The attached post was just written three days ago, and it feels in sync with your perspective. Your son is a lucky boy!

  29. I just discovered your blog and I am in love with it! My husband shed a tear or two with this post as I made him read it last night :)

    We have a 6 month old, so we´re like halfway there! Like your husband, he find children´s books boring so he makes Martin listen to his songs and claims that Mr. Bojangles calms Martin and make him ready for sleep :)
    I also remembered how he would respond when I would utter the word ” baby or sweetheart” but then I am referring to our son and not him and he would have this lonely face and say ” I wonder when I will get used to the fact that there´s another “baby” now “.
    The first few months, I was like a mess and I would be too angsty with small stuff and sometimes Martin would let out a sharp cry in the middle of the night. He would pacify me first then pacify Martin. hehehe

    I think im gonna finish all your entries in a couple of days!! hehehe

    Minnie (from Norway)

  30. Very sweet, and a great read!
    My first daughter’s first song was The Beatles too, and carefully chosen. <3


  31. I enjoyed this post! Actually made me feel better. My fiancee and I have a 3 month old and it has just been crazy. I actually have two daughters 4 and 5 and so I wasn’t new at parenthood. But my fiancee was and I was not ready for it. It was almost like having another child because he had no clue at all. Numbers 1 and 3 are especially great. I kinda felt that he wasn’t bonding with our son but maybe it is just a new dad thing.

  32. Anonymous says...

    My wife forwarded me the link to this quote and I don’t know why exactly, but this post made me cry. I’m not cryer and can’t remember truly crying for a long time but this perspective struck a definite chord.

    Being a new father (my son’s almost 4 months) has been the most frustrating, unrewarding, terrifying, and lonely experiences of my life. I was so excited to have our first child and when my son was born I was so excited. It was a C-section so I was holding my son in the first few minutes and indeed the first few days while my wife was recovering.

    I was so sure I was creating this amazing bond and even fell asleep with my baby in my arms on the first night. That was my best night I’ve had since he was born.

    Since then, I haven’t gained a son, I’ve simply lost my wife, my life, and everything i used to love. Sure, I love my son dearly but feeding him or changing his diaper or reading to him doesn’t do anything for him or for me. Whatever bond that people talk about, it ain’t here. I marvel at my wife and how she has become almost one with her son.

    When they sleep they are curled up in an impossible curled ball on the bed and you literally cannot tell where she stops and he begins. She always knows what to say to him and what the right thing to do is, when to do it, how to do it.

    Me, I can’t get do anything right. The baby certainly likes the nanny more than me and my existence has been reduced to an endless trance of washing bottles and pumps and running errands and changing diapers and rocking the baby to sleep. But there’s no connection. I could as well be a robot for all the baby cares.

    The comment about reading to him really made me sad because an ongoing argument with my wife (somehow, we argue about everything now) is that after reading him the same books 100X to the point that I’ve memorized them and started to ad-lib (apparently another no-no), I started reading books I enjoy. It’s still words, it’s still my voice, and at least one of us is enjoying it.

    Even beyond the physical and mental toll of having a baby, the hardest and saddest part is the emotional emptyness in my life. I know how hard it is for my wife, but I’m completely alone now. I come home after work just in time to bathe my son and read to him before both she and he go to sleep for the night. Usually with a long list of things for me to take care of before I sneak into bed. I wake up in the morning to finish whatever chores need to be done before heading to work, with everyone smiling and asking me how wonderful it must be with my son. Well, it’s not.

    There’s no one to talk to. My wife used to be my best friend and the person I could talk about my day or about what I was doing or interested in. Now that’s gone. Sure, it was exciting when he started to smile and it’s cute when he babbles and he’s growing. But I don’t find it very interesting. And I’ve ALWAYS loved babies. I adore my nieces and nephews and I’m sure that in a few months, I will love my son in a way that is rewarding and makes this all worthwhile.

    But for now, I’m just depressed and unhappy and lonely and sad and couldn’t possibly talk about this with my wife or anyone else. Fatherhood sucks.

    • Rachael says...

      Reading this and hoping that, as time has gone by, you are in a better place. Thinking of you x

    • tunie says...

      I too, hope you were somehow able to find other fathers to connect with, either in person or online – so many men are all learning together what it is to be truly engaged in parenting. Yes the mother has hormones on her side, but it is a LOT of work and even more patience. I’d love to hear if things changed for you after your baby began to recognize you?
      Also, it may be disheartening that the nanny appears to get more attention but at that age, it’s for no other reason than that she has boobs! Seriously, babies are pretty narrow minded that way and could care less who’s boob it is as long as there is one around : )

      Your role is an exercise in unconditional love for now, but this labor of love will pay off, as bonding IS happening, even if only apparent in the service you are performing for your wife who is surely grateful to have your partnership! Post an update if you can! Thanks for giving it your all and good luck!

    • Carrie says...

      I hope you and your wife eventually had a talk that allowed you to share all these feelings. I really appreciate hearing what you had to say about being a new father, someday when my husband and I have our first child I will remember reading this and will do my very best to guard him against such feelings.

    • Annie K. says...

      You are not alone, though I know the feeling that you can’t talk to anyone. I had antepartum depression and dreaded having a baby, and you know what no one wants to hear from a pregnant lady? I’M NOT EXCITED AND NO I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT MY STOMACH OR MY BODY OR MY BABY. Ha.

      I commented above, too, but watching Mike Birbiglia’s Netflix special “The New One” was actually therapeutic for me and my husband, and opened up the conversation for us a bit. I do hope that for you, like for us and many, it gets easier in the coming months. Best!

    • Tori says...

      Anonymous—HANG IN THERE! You are a wonderful father. I know that may sound insincere from a stranger on the internet but I mean it. Your awareness, investment and emotional involvement with your wife and child shows how much you care. I want to tell you, what you are going through is normal. This is a transition period and it’s BIG and it’s rough but the good things in life are worth fighting for and the struggle and sacrifice are worth it. I know how hard it is but it does change. You will find more rhythm, your child will bond with you, your wife will be thankful for your support and care. We see family life portrayed as board games and happy montages but the truth is that it is hard, hard work. Good strength! Wishing you and your family all the best.

  33. As a father to be, this was a really great read. I am going into “no man’s land” myself and this was a great reassurance for me!

    My blog, Musings Of A First Time Father is a go, check it at

  34. Such a sweet, sweet post. You and Toby are very lucky.

  35. Holy F. Smoke says...

    wow, so great. thank you so much! just found out my wife is pregnant, no one knows yet at all… so, pretty much two small steps into the long, long unknown journey ahead. so, thank you for this message from the future.

  36. Anonymous says...
  37. Wonderful and honest post. As a mom of a one month old, i am crying as i relate to many of your thoughts and feeling guilty that my husband has temporarily (hopefully) lost his wife to the baby crazies.

  38. I have never commented here before but on reading this post felt strongly compelled. It is all so true and so heartfelt and so beautifully written. I felt a huge surge of emotionally saturated memories of our first year with our first. What a fantastic ride! Thanks! : )

  39. Betty W says...

    I think that comparing baby’s cry to an alarm going off is just so so insightful. That is exactly what it is like for me, but my husband can just let it wash over him, no worries! My baby was born just a few days before yours, so I love reading your posts about Toby and seeing what he is up to!

  40. I feel so lucky to have gotten to read this. Thank you so much, both of you, for being so vulnerable and open. I wish I could hug you!

  41. Anonymous says...

    I am years away from being a mother but I will keep this in mind when I am exploring that experience with the father of my children. Child rearing is thought about and discussed solely through the eyes of the new mother – I have never heard a father’s perspective (though a fair amount of press exists to inform us about the real, but undeniably female experience of hormonally rooted post-partum depression). A male reaction is just as important as the female one (though they involve such fundamentally different areas of perception), and I hope that when the time comes I can remember that I am unpredictable and he is someone that loves me.

  42. Great post, as always! ♥

  43. thanks for sharing! :) so insightful

  44. Gina says...

    Oh Joanna! I don’t know if you’ll read the 257th comment on a post from a few days ago, but I just have to say that I am now officially in love with Alex. You are the cutest, sweetest couple and little family ever, and I absolutely loved reading this post. I just wanna hug the three of you and tell you that you made my heart smile with this tonight. Thanks to both of you for sharing.

  45. I just cried a little…this was so wonderful to read. I ask Doug these questions all the time and many of his answers are so similar to Alex’s.

    I have this picture in my mind of Doug sitting on the couch with her when I came out of the shower during our first few days at home. I was feeling so high on life but also nervous and overwhelmed but when I came out and saw him sitting there so naturally with her…wow. She was so tiny and helpless and he was like a white knight.

    The other day we were out and someone was waving to Lucia and saying that he enjoys babies from a distance bc they make him nervous…totally understandable! Doug was saying how he totally relates bc until he had his own kid he was scared of even holding one! I think it’s so normal for men to feel that way until they have their own — even if it might be a little more difficult for them to bond at first.

    Finally, I love that Alex chose Penny Lane for Toby’s first song. sigh. That’s just so beautiful. Now I will have that tune in my head the whole day. When Lucia was really tiny I sang “Blackbird” to her all day and night – my favorite Beatles song. Recently I’ve been signing it to her again. And whenever we choose a playlist for her room we always go back to them…

  46. The nine months it takes to get used to having a new (and firstborn) baby sounds like the nine months it takes to get used to living abroad. In the Peace Corps they used to prep us partly by saying that we needed the first year just to get acculturated…and what Alex says here sounds very similar.

  47. lbs says...

    Wow! Not only was the post great, but I just read thru all the comments and enjoyed those as well. (I’m on the most boring teleconference call at work) : ) Def love these Monday Motherhood posts!

  48. What a touching post. My husband and I are in “see what happends mode”. It is so great to hear thoughts from a dad’s prospective. Thank you and Alex for sharing.

  49. I love this! and I totally cracked up over the part about reading children’s books…having babysat when I was younger for many years, I know that to be true…and oh how repetitive..the same book again?!!?

  50. i have to third mo willems, definitely check out LEONARDO THE TERRIBLE MONSTER :) love love love it.

  51. Lynda Willoughby says...

    Hi Jo, I am new to motherhood and loving your Monday posts. Please keep them coming. Lynda

  52. Anonymous says...

    “I realized that he had never heard music before and that I got to pick out the first song he’d ever hear. I felt like I had a hand in shaping his destiny. Choosing a song on iTunes suddenly felt profound”

  53. this is such a great post. i love hearing thoughts from a father’s perspective. Alex sounds a lot like my husband as we continue to adjust to our four-month-old but surprisingly, I relate a lot to the things Alex said too.

    What I most loved reading about was #3 “My wife acted a little like she was on drugs.” I can’t wait to share this with my husband when he gets home because he can’t understand why I get so overwhelmed and flustered when our baby gets fussy. To tell you the truth, I hardly understand it myself because I am normally really mellow and not anxious at all. But my husband handles our daughters fussiness with calm and ease. I guess you can chalk it all up to hormones.

    Thanks for this post…I really enjoyed the insight!

  54. Thank you for this post! It made me all teary eyed! My husband and I are expecting our first baby in September, and I sent this post to him to read prior to baby Annabelle getting here:) xo

  55. This is a wonderful insight in the early fatherhood. So often you hear simply about moms and their babies but not so much about dads. Great job. In fact so much so, that I have posted about it on my blog:


    P.S. your baby is such a cutie!

  56. I love how honest and open both of you are about your journey to and through parenthood. I think these sort of posts are so helpful to many.It is a real contribution. Thank you!

  57. muriel says...

    this is such a sweet post. looove. thanks alex

  58. this is so great I had to send it to my husband. it’s an eye opener for me and seconds so much that i can tell my husband is feeling with our new son.

  59. so when’s the next kid coming? HAHA! ;) great post ALEX! :) Parenthood overall is tricky and yes you are a bit more confident with the 2nd child. But each child comes with his/her own personality so it is almost like starting over from scratch even with the 2nd child! :)

  60. amazing post… it’s nice to hear from a dad’s perspective. i never asked!

  61. thank you for these amazing and honest comments!!! (and toby would definitely love to meet poppy someday, ha!:)

  62. Anonymous says...

    Our daughter is 13 months old and I couldn’t relate to this post more! All of it so true and i so remember that moment where they look at you and they have crossed over from just a baby to a child. Amazing!
    Our daughter poppy is very cute – I am sure Toby would love an australian girlfriend one day!

  63. wow. really love this post. the honesty and sincerity is very touching.

  64. he moment of choosing the first song Toby would ever listen made me weep a bit!

  65. Joanna, this is such a beautiful + inspiring post! One of the things I’m most excited about being a mother some day is seeing my husband become a father right in front of me. He is my first love :)

  66. What a completely sweet and moving post. I love the honesty and there were a few surprises too. Thank you for sharing!

  67. oh, i was especially touched by this line:
    “Many women seem to have a tremendous capacity to step outside themselves and see things through the baby’s eyes”

    what an understanding, thoughtful husband you have!

  68. Anonymous says...

    I have been trying to comment, but can’t for some reason. Anyway, great post!

  69. Anonymous says...

    i was pretty much thrown for a loop on having a child. It was a huge wrench in our otherwise smooth existense. I kind of hated it and wanted my own life back. But then it settled down. My son is the best thing that ever happenned to me. more people should talk about how it can be crazy and upsetting it can be. You did us all a favor by talking about this, Alex.

  70. Lovely post. Honest, sincere and validating for dads and moms. Thank you!

  71. Anonymous says...

    Wonderful, amazing, honest post!

  72. Anonymous says...

    Honestly, motherhood can be a crazy making roller coaster and fatherhood an unwelcome shock. However… in the end you would not trade anything for the child you end up loving more than life itself.

  73. Anonymous says...

    Alex, I feel your pain. But also your eventual pride. Been there. Done that.

  74. Sara says...

    So insightful. I am bookmarking this one for my husband when we have kids. Thank you for sharing!

  75. So funny and spot on! My husband would especially chuckle at the comment about me “being on drugs” If I felt like aliens lived inside me when I was pregnant, a new one moved in AFTER the birth of my twins! We are approaching nine months and also are starting to feel like things are approaching a more normal state. Can’t wait to share this with my husband!

  76. This is really sweet, and it could easily be my husband’s story. I particularly love the comment about how boring baby books are – so TRUE! And the very hungry caterpillar IS the worst – I skim through it as quickly as possible!

  77. Not only am I not a mom, mom stuff is so boring to me, and i’m not sure that having kids in my future…all that said i love this ditty and hearing from a dad’s side. really i love it!!!
    thank you so much for sharing Dad!!!!

  78. this is probably my most favorite cup of joe post. thanks to alex for sharing so candidly. i have already forwarded this to all of my pregnant friends (and their men!).

  79. What a beautiful post! I sent this to my husband, who is a first-time daddy-to-be, and I think he will take a lot from Alex’s list.


  80. Heart. Melt.

  81. Anonymous says...

    very touching and sweet

  82. I loved reading this. We don’t have kids yet, but when we do, I’ll make sure my husband reads this post. I especially enjoyed Alex’s thoughts on picking out the first song your baby would ever hear. What a wonderful realization, and “Penny Lane” is such a great choice.

  83. Love this post :)

  84. Such a gorgeous and genuine post. I love this! Your have two very special boys in your life!


    erica @ tinseltwine . com

  85. This was an amazing post, thanks to both of you for sharing!

  86. Though I don’t have kids, this post reminded me of my dad, who died 8 years ago, and it made me smile. Wonderful words!

  87. Anonymous says...

    Just to add a three time Dad perspective that has 3 kids (13,11,7). I agree with Alex on all points except #5 and #8. It is way too early to call ALL children’s books boring, they get better as the children get older. As for wanting more, three is the perfect number. One additional coment to #7, it will be even better than you dream about.

  88. Anonymous says...

    This post was so honest and heartwarming. It makes me want to go home to my husband right now and start making babies.

  89. Glenda says...

    I love Motherhood Mondays. So honest of Alex. Love that! Toby is a cutie! I think being a parent is definitely on the job training. Get’s easier as time moves forward. My hubby was always hands-on from the door. He definitely had more patience than I did. I think it’s so right on what Alex says: mother’s are more anxious whereas Dad’s are more mellow.

    And love that he’s ready for Baby #2??!! Yay!! :)

  90. This is so unbelievably sweet. I’m sending a link to my Fiance. Thanks for the lovely, honest post.

  91. Elly says...

    What a candid conversation, wow! Thanks for that. Although I don’t have children yet I feel like this may be something I will pull out for my husband when the time should come.

    Oh, and it totally got me thinking…only recently (I’m now 27 years old) did my Dad tell me that he never liked the “baby phase” when me and my siblings were little. I was shocked! He said he often felt disconnected and very helpless. This totally makes sense now!

  92. Katie says...

    Oh, what a sweet post! #6 made my eyes mist up a little :)You have a beautiful family, Joanna!

  93. Anonymous says...

    Really interesting, Alex, and thanks so much for sharing in such an open way!
    Another Dad.

  94. Although it was 10 years ago with our first, you’ve articulated many of the experiences both my husband and myself encountered. I also find it intriguing how the first foray into parenting was so different from the second and third time.

    We felt so inept with our first, which surprised us as two previously competent and successful individuals. You brought back the memory of rocking that tiny baby boy while I played the White Album over and over again. Blackbird, I Will, Julia… It is no surprise that today I have this lovely 10 year old boy who knows the words to most every Beatles song.

  95. Great post. My husband has expressed the same feelings with our boys. My husband was excited and ready for our second. He felt like the bond was much quicker, since he knew what to expect and look forward too. (That is my not so subtle pitch for a #2.You guys make the cutest babies) Parenthood is a spectacular, crazy, awe-inspiring and humbling experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  96. Anonymous says...

    refreshing and honest!

  97. I so enjoyed this. We don’t have kiddos yet, but my husband isn’t quite there yet — for a lot of the reasons that your husband confessed. That makes me happy :)

  98. I also think they should clone guys like Alex, so understanding & loving. Joane u are so blessed! :)

  99. you have such a beautiful baby :) i loved reading this, it was so honest and heartwarming.

  100. loved reading this, very true and honest through & through.

    Point 3. Very amusing, but true!


  101. What a sweet post. Toby is looking more and more like you as he’s growing.

  102. I absolutely love that you and Alex did a post from his perspective as well. I am due in 2.5 months and my husband and I are filled with anticipation! I’m going to forward him this link right now.. I know he will really appreciate it.
    What makes Cup of Jo my favorite blog is how honest you are Joanna. And it’s wonderful to see the same in Alex. That is why people relate to you both so much.

    Lots of love,


  103. So sweet! Thanks to Alex for posting his 1-year-in thoughts. You two are a great couple.

    I’ve always been a bit nervous about the early baby phase and what it means for my marriage too. My husband and I are lucky enough to have some practice with my twin nieces. He used to be scared of even holding them, but now plays and helps out all the time. His little realizations are touching to me and have helped us address how we want to parent and what issues we see arising when our time comes. It’s been invaluable!

  104. Joanna, I very seldom comment but really wanted to tell you and Alex how much I have appreciated the Motherhood Monday posts. My husband and I are trying for a baby and I have to admit I am very apprehensive about starting a family. The thing I love so much about your series is its perspective. I’ve never heard anything like it, despite having been around plenty of parents – both new and old. Please know your honesty is so treasured. We’ve all heard the trite generalizations – “You’ll be fine!” “Once you see the baby, you’ll forget all the pain!” “Once you have a baby, you’ll feel differently!” Despite the truths they no doubt contain, their oversimplification of a complex reality tires and frightens me. I love that you describe it like it is – you don’t shirk from the glory and the beauty but neither do you ignore the adjustments and the hard bits. Thank you.

  105. This is so sweet and truthful! Loved reading it.

  106. Joanna this is a great post, I just had a baby she is 2 months old and it is life changing. I can’t wait for my husband to read this post. So sweet and profound at the same time. Thanks!

  107. I had to link this on FB page because it is just the sweetest thing ever. Thanks to your wonderful husband for sharing!

  108. Wow, he’s an excellent writer!

  109. Love this honest post by your hubby! We don’t have kids yet, but when we do (hopefully soon!) I am going to come back and share this with my husband. Love your blog!

  110. Amber says...

    Love this post….with my husband, when we had our first (a son), he had a major learning curve to all things baby in the first few weeks. He’d never even really held a newborn before and it was tough (on us both) because he was soooo nervous that he would do something wrong or somehow accidentally hurt this fragile little being that he instantly tensed every muscle each time he held him in some strange protective gesture to make sure he was extra careful with him. The problem with this was, of course, that our son could sense his tension and so he would get worked up and cry instead of being able to be calmed by my husband, which just made my husband more afraid that he was hurting him somehow or doing something wrong, which made him even more tense and led to even more crying. Vicious cycle! So, I would have to take the baby, who would instantly calm down because nothing was really wrong, but it made it impossible for me to get rest. Even though my husband really, really wanted to help me out and let me sleep, it just wasn’t working. Fortunately, after the first few weeks my husband became more confident, which made him and the baby both more relaxed and they found their daddy-son bonding groove. He’s the best dad in the world and I actually think it was really cute that he was so protective and worried (even if it made things a hassle at the time) And, of course, with our second (also a son) he was a total pro from day one!

  111. I was so excited to tell you about Mo Willems, only to see I was just beat out! Yes, I agree that Mo Willems is amazing and Jon Scieszka is one of my favorites ever!! Hilarious!
    Great post!

  112. Anonymous says...

    i agree with some of the other mamas out there…some children’s books are more entertaining, have beautiful illustrations + can even carry more complex themes…

    check out some books by mo willems, allen say, shel silverstein, maurice sendak, lane smith or try chris van allsburg, robert munsch or jon scienszka. books don’t have to be boring, you just have to be more discriminate! ;)

  113. This is so great…I was between chuckling and tearing up while reading. Very, very sweet.

  114. truly enlightening and heartwarming :)

  115. leathergal says...

    Thanks so much for sharing this post, Alex and Jo! My husband and I are also preparing ourselves for (hopefully!) becoming parents in the next year or so. I’ll show my husband this post, I’m sure he’ll love it and keep it in mind for when our first little one comes along:) So nice to see a dad’s perspective!

  116. One of my favorite posts ever. Really. It was so incredibly honest, but so tender and loving at the same time. Thank you to your husband for not giving “canned” answers. They were real “I’ve been there, let me share my knowledge” insights. I’ve shared this post with many of my soon to be first-time parent friends. :)

  117. Wowza … this post is so genuine and heartfelt and oozing with honesty. What a great idea and I am sure it will be helpful to a ton of new daddies out there :)

    ♥ Cat brideblu

  118. That was a great perspective- thanks for sharing.
    I want to comment on one point, though. Mother’s do not necessarily have the ability to step out of themselves and look through a baby’s eyes. Although I like some children’s books, reading them over and over again is boring! And having to go slow is boring, too. Some women, and some men, too, may be able to do that whole childlike thing. But it’s unfair to just assume that “women” are like that. We aren’t all like that, and it puts unfair expectations on those of us who aren’t. It tags us as “unnatural” or “bad mothers.” And that’s not true.
    Okay, I just had to say all that. Adrienne Rich would be proud of me.

  119. Anonymous says...

    Rad rad post Alex and Joe. Love your candor and am touched that your put your experience as a father Alex (and your experience as a Mom Joe) out there in such an honest way. Saludos!

  120. wow, I’m so happy I read this. I’m about to have a baby in 2 months! It’s hard to believe, but I’m going to be a mom. And my husband is going to be a dad. Thanks for sharing this. Thank your husband. can’t wait for my husband, collin, to read this. it got me crying!

  121. I love this post so much, thank you for sharing Alex. I am forwarding this to my husband, so refreshing to hear this side of things as I know as much as he wants children, there are things that worry him about the beginnings. Thank you!

  122. Anonymous says...

    What valuable information! We’re expecting our first baby in February. I grew up with a big family and new cousins being born every few years. I’ve babysat since I was 14 and I know what to do with a baby. Babies are completely foreign to my husband and I wonder how he’ll adjust. I’m going to show him this post because I’m sure he’ll have similar feelings as Alex.

    Thank you for sharing this! (I also don’t like children’s books.)

  123. a says...

    thank you for sharing!!! This is a wonderful post…

  124. joanna (& alex!), this is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever done! it is so great to read the honest truth from dad’s point of you, which a lot of blogs don’t usually show. alex sounds like an awesome dad. :)

  125. I really loved reading Alex’s thoughts and I’m sure my husband would relate to many, if not all, of these points. #3 ~ I relate to this. I couldn’t understand why my husband wasn’t more upset when our daughter would cry, etc. It’s amazing how different men & women are in this respect. Also, the books ~ I laughed because I feel this so strongly. Eric Carle books ~ well, I can’t read them ~ they seriously bore me to tears (how awful!). I spend a good deal of time at the library in the kids section (sans the daughter!) reading books to find ones that I will also love. And it’s working. My daughter LOVES to read and I think it’s because I enjoy the books as much as she does. One great book is FLOTSAM…you make up your own story to some amazing illustrations and an incredible potential story. Check it out if you can!!!

  126. ohh I loved reading this. i think so much of what he said has got to be true for many others too. always good to hear everyones take and experiance!

  127. This was great reading during my 3 week olds middle of the night feeding! I told my husband about it first thing this morning and am sure that much of it resonates with him. Thanks for being so honest Alex!

  128. Great post. I love how honest it is. Thanks for sharing!

  129. Joanna!! this is just a wonderful post!! we hear so much about how the moms feel throughout, but very rarely we hear about how the dads feel! and I loved reading about it!! Thank for sharing!

  130. love this post! i am not a mother yet, but i may have a tiny bit of baby fever ;) this post gives a good perspective… i appreciate him being so real and candid. love it.

  131. And he’s ready for the another one :)How cute..xx for Toby

  132. so…i’m a daddy’s girl. big time. and my father just passed away a month ago so this post was really sweet for me to read.

  133. God bless you guys for sharing these sweet moments, memories, and lives with us. I guess you must imagine how important it is to read these kind of experiences when you’re a recent parent… You feel you’re not alone… I promise to ask my husband what he feels about being a dad. I guess he shares a lot of these eight toughts that Alex so generously shared with us. I know it! Although my husband is not a men of words, I can know how he feels by his actions… I can see his adapting to Manuel every day. Manuel is now 6 months old. E plays a lot with his dad and they laugh a lot together! My husband was 3 weeks at home (in the beggining of June), in vacation, and in the first day of work he was texting me all day, saying he couldn’t stand being apart from is soon, that he missed him a lot… So cute… I can «really feel the bond between them and my eyes get wet ;-)

  134. Alex’s candid 8 gave me tingly goosebumps; it was touching. Children’s books ARE boring, I think it is the joy in the child’s discovery that makes the time exciting. When I was 6 my parents read to me as part of a school reading log and my mom worked nights. After bringing my dad one little kid book after another he asked to choose the reading. Thereafter, he read “The Hobbit” to me a chapter at a time. I LOVED that time with Dad, and remembered bits of the book even when I grew up!

  135. Thanks for this post! I’ve always wondered what it’s like for a new father to make the transition. I know that my husband will be a good father when we decide to have kids in a few years, but this gives me a premise for understanding the kind of frustrations he may face, and give me peace about allowing the process to flow naturally. Love it!

  136. Jo says...

    Oh, that was such a lovely post! Our first baby is due in 7 weeks, I sent forwarded straight to my husband! He has recently admitted his biggest impending-baby fear is feeling helpless while I am in pain…did Alex struggle with this too?

  137. Anonymous says...

    Wow, this was my favorite monday post so far. Thank you, Alex, for being so candid. Esp. in the blog world, it is rare to see this much honesty!

  138. BA says...

    Great post! I love hearing from the dads, especially when they are so candid. Over at 4mothers1blog the 4fathers posted letters to their sons for the week of Father’s Day. Check it out:

    My husband wrote this and reading it brought a tear to my eye and reminded me what a gift our simple life truly is.

    I hope we get to read more from Alex!

  139. Thank you so much for this post! My husband and I just had a baby and I’m going to have him read this. I think it will really hit home with him. You don’t get a lot of dad’s perspective on having a new baby. It’s so important and Alex was so honest about it. Toby is one lucky kiddo!

  140. hi joanna, love reading your blog! just discovered this tumblr and thought you might like it:

    can’t wait for today’s post,

  141. Anonymous says...

    Oh wow. that was such a beautifully expressed list. i HAVE to fwd it to my hubby. it instantly helped me (as a wife) see the other side of parenthood… i got goosebumps – i DID.
    thanks – another thing to love about your blog… fab variety.

  142. This is the best “motherhood monday” post you’ve had. I love hearing an honest account of new parenthood from the Dad. Dad’s are always pushed into the background and all that is focused on is the Mother’s connection/experience with the baby. I am so happy that you changed that perspective and shared Alex’s insights.

    Also, did you just melt when he got a little jealous when you Toby was your favorite person? I find that weirdly romantic

  143. I don’t even have kids but as a newly married woman who would like to have them one day this made me feel so comforted. Thank you for sharing Alex’s personal feelings with all of us.

  144. Anonymous says...

    “The Very Hungry Caterpillar is tough sledding”!!!!!! I think I will send that one to Eric Carle for a blurb on the back cover of the next edition, signed Dads of the World! Loved this heart-outpouring post. Thanks, Joanna and Alex.

  145. clare, i love your comment. and robin, haha, not sure we’re quite ready for #2, we’ll see! :)