The First 7 Days of Parenthood

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Credits : Danielle MacInnes

A week ago this day, I was driving my wife to the hospital for what we thought would be her ultimate pregnancy check-up before her due date.

It was indeed. She gave birth after the appointment. Before we knew it, we were propelled into parenthood.

The most amazing experience of all

I have to say this : witnessing the birth of your own child is BY FAR the most amazing and intense experience. For those of you without kids who value experiences over material possessions, you know what you’ve got to do now 🙂

All this work for the last 9 months to prepare for the delivery. All this work in the last 12h to make the pain manageable. All this pushing to finally see our daughter’s head coming out. It was intense.

when is the last time you were so happy you cried?

But wait! The best is how everything concludes: after 270 days of preparation and almost 24h of labor, the actual delivery happens in a few seconds! So much suspense, so much intensity and all of it suddenly becomes so real!

I instantly cried out of joy. This was so surreal, in a good way. I mean, when is the last time you were so happy you cried?

That’s when I realized:

  • A living human being was just born and seeing our world for the very first time,
  • I had just become a dad for real,
  • All the items on my todo list had suddenly been demoted to “not important, will do when time permits”.

The biggest lie of all

That’s when it all starts to get fun 🙂

The first couple of days in the hospital were like a parenting bootcamp. We were in heaven for a few moments but then everything happening quickly became overwhelming. Tests for this. Paperwork for that. Send pictures to family & friends. Order food before the cafeteria closes. Meet the nurse. The pediatrician. The doctor. The lactation consultant. Send more pictures to family & friends. Try to make sense of baby’s first cries. Try to find some time to sleep. Try to run a marathon without practice.

Who ever coined the phrase “sleeping like a baby” was obviously joking

Returning home went surprisingly well. Baby was sleeping well, breast feeding was easy and everything looked manageable. For a second, it looked like we had nailed it.

Then it happened: baby wouldn’t sleep.

On day 5, baby decided to wake up every hour from 11pm onwards. There was no nurse to call anymore and we just had to improvise. I got up probably 6 times that night. I had breakfast (diner?) at 3am. I had another breakfast (lunch?) at 11am when I actually got up.

It was better the following night but back to a no-sleep night the next.

Who ever coined the phrase “sleeping like a baby” was obviously joking. Or lying. I have “slept like a baby” before and that was precisely the opposite of what we have experienced these few nights.

What this taught me about Financial Independence

The sudden realization of parenthood also made me realize that Financial Independence also got demoted on my todo list. Not as much as looking for a cheaper car insurance, but still.

I have no doubt that we will get there and it currently looks like we’ll beat out goal of 2022 by approximately 2 years. But whether this ends up being 2020 or 2022,  there isn’t a lot more I can do to improve this. It’s the 80/20 rule. We’ll reap most of the benefits with our high savings rate and the markets will do the rest.

Spending more time on how to optimize our FI date is unfortunately bound to see diminishing returns. I’d like to now spend that time on my daughter’s development. That means reading a little less about asset allocation and wealth management (I’ve got some great post(s) on the topic in my drafts folder) and reading more about parenting.

One thing is certain however, I am very excited to know that we’ll be FI around the time our daughter will turn 5. Knowing that we’ll be covered financially whatever happens is important. And our daughter will reap the benefits of having happy, relaxed parents, even if there’s a downturn like the one we’re currently going through in the Oil & Gas industry.

Hope you’re all heading for a great week-end. I personally can’t wait to get some sleep!

-Daddy Nick

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Congrats and welcome to the club! Very special time indeed, enjoy it!

    Baby has to eat, right?! I don’t think our little one slept through the night until about three months which I thought was perfect for my wife at least since that’s when she went back to work.

    Time goes fast, just keep soaking it all in. Life as a new papa 🙂

    • That’s great that your baby was able sleep through the night when your wife returned to work. My wife is taking 6 months so I hope it won’t take that long 😉

  2. Congratulations! Very glad to hear you can leave the investments “on auto-pilot” and still hit FI before kindergarten. That prevents a lot of stress!

    Our daughters settled down into long nightly sleeps about the time they started on solid foods, around 5-6 months. Each child grows at its own pace, so enjoy the ride and, whenever you can sneak them in, the naps. 🙂

    • Thanks! Having the investments on auto-pilot was one of our goals and really, except a monthly review my wife and I do together, we really don’t do any changes anymore. We haven’t accounted for daycare costs, but since we will likely not travel as much, it should compensate and leave our FI date unchanged.
      This is great that your daughters went into long nightly sleeps around 5 months, even if they are all different, that gives us a timeline of what to expect. In the meantime, we do sneak in naps whenever we can, this is the best advice new parents can receive!

  3. Congratulations, Nick! That’s amazing!

    It has to feel great to know that you will hit FI when your daughter is so young and you will get lots of quality time with her. That’s so much more than the average father can say.

    • I try to be more than an average dad and decided to be the burp, diaper and soothing manager haha.
      It honestly makes me feel good to know that we’ll have the option to not work (or less, or be more available) when she turns 5. When I was young, I would see my dad only shortly in the evenings and I think a little more father – daughter time will be good for her (and me). I’ve got so many things to teach her!
      Which is why I’d recommend everyone to start the journey to FI as soon as possible. You never know when it will be useful, but at least you’re giving yourself options!

  4. Congratulations!!!! I can’t imagine what that’s like (I’m barely 21) but I always loved taking care of my nieces when I was little. They were bundles of joy.

    What’s even great is that your daughter is going to learn so much from you guys!

    • Finance Solver, I know many people who became parents at 21-23, so you could be closer to it than you think 😉
      What I find amazing having your own kids, compared to playing with other’s, is that it’s more of a two-way communication. While we are having fun with her, she also shows that she likes to be with us.
      Yesterday, when she looked at me straight in the eyes while I was changing her, it felt like she was telling me “thanks dad for taking care of me”. Man, what an amazing feeling.
      If you enjoyed taking care of your nieces, you’ll be a great parent!

  5. congratulations! what fantastic news! the first few months are hard, but it will get better. My boys didn’t get completely through the night until a year old. they do it when they’re ready. I’d recommend the book ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’ if you haven’t come across it already. some really good practical and usable tips.

    • Thanks Mrs PIE, I’ll have a look at that book!
      I’m glad to hear that it will get better, but thinking about a whole year without a full night’s sleep makes me scared a little!
      A colleague told me on Friday that we need to work hard to appreciate the good things. Parenthood being one of them, it implies it’ll be a little challenging for a while but oh, so worth it. Looking forward to it.
      Thanks for the support!

  6. A heartfelt congrats from our family to yours. We found it helpful to make sure the baby knew the difference between night and day. During the night, I fed the baby in darkness without sound or talking or playing and put them right back to sleep. During the day, I did it in the light, maybe had the TV on, played and talked to the baby, etc. I’m not sure if it was something that actually worked or just FELT like I was doing something to help it work! 🙂 The point is that every baby everywhere is different and you are the only one that will know what to do for yours. If it helps, here are my thoughts after 8 years of being a mom: http://northernexpenditure.com/keepin-it-real-kiddos/ (takeaway: no one knows what the heck they’re doing)

    • Thanks Maggie! I just wrote a post about 7 days in parenthood and you wrote one after 8 years. Will I see the future? 🙂
      Those are good pieces of advice to make sure day and night are clearly different, which should help baby get in sync with us. Every book on the subject claims to have THE technique that works and outperforms the others, but I’m starting to think, like you suggest, that all kids are different and no-one really knows what they’re doing.
      I guess I’ll read your post and we’ll try to do like everyone else : improvise and do our best!

  7. Congratz on becoming a Daddy. It is indeed a special feeling that opens a whole new range of emotions, feeling and responsibilities. Never dull day with kids in the house. and as soon as you think you master the situation, they grow older, learn new tricks, can do new things. It is amazing.

    Enjoy every minute

    • Thanks ATL! Everybody has told me that they change so quickly, it requires constant learning from the parents and in the end, it all goes too fast.
      We’ll make sure we find the time to enjoy every minute of it.

  8. Our son was born one year ago in September. It’s an incredible journey that is so rewarding. I think it’s amazing that you will be able to spend so much time with your daughter when she is young.

    My wife called to tell me my son started to wave. I was at work at the time and was happy/sad at the same time. These are moments that motivate me to become financially independent by 2020.

    • September is the best month (I also happen to be from Sept)!
      Our families seem to have quite a bit in common : we’ll hit FI at about the same time, when our kids will still be young. I understand the mixed feelings about this event, but as you say, this is precisely why we’re doing this. Because it’s an investment today for a better tomorrow.
      Keep it up. I’ll look forward to my own daughter waving 🙂

  9. Somehow I missed this article when it came out, d’oh!

    Our oldest “slept” like that. It was rough figuring out who was getting up when, and all that. Ultimately, I became the night time person with him, and while it sucked on one hand, it was great on the other for some extra bonding time. Actually, I’ve been the default night person now for both of our kids – once they stop nursing at night anyway.

    It’s a great time, and amazingly, your body will adapt to the oddball sleep cycles that you’re experiencing. Hopefully she ends up sleeping better and doesn’t take 3 years to get there like our oldest. 3 years…. 🙂

    • 3 years… That’s a proof of love! I actually don’t mind getting up at night, when I hear anything and I don’t sleep through it. A few mornings I told my wife “so she didn’t wake once last night, that’s good” only for her to tell me she did twice. Otherwise, yes sure! 🙂

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