Caring for a baby is a huge responsibility, so the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" could not be more accurate. When it comes to parenting, literally, the more hands on deck the better. However, at some point you're going to be left alone with your baby, and it's scary. In fact, when I asked dads to describe the first time they were alone with their babies, I realized their experiences and worries sound very similar to the things moms think when they are left alone with their babies for the first time, too. In other words, no one is immune to the overwhelming fear that befalls you when you look around the room and realize you're the only one there to take care of your little one. Gulp.
When babies are very small and new, I have a feeling dads sometimes feel a bit left out. There is a very real, very valid, and very biological need for an infant to be close to its mother, especially after birth. Of course, if a mom decides and is able to breastfeed, baby is going to spend the majority of the time skin-to-skin with mom in the name of food, too. In other words, it's easy to see how dads might feel like the "third wheel" when it comes to this whole parenting thing.
However, as mentioned previously, eventually the other shoe will drop and dad will be left alone with baby, too. This is how these dads when that day finally arrived:
"My wife had to go to a baby shower for her friend. My mother was due to help me out with the baby but came down sick that day. My wife was going to cancel but I knew I could handle it. When she left I panicked a bit, but everything was fine."
"The first time I was left alone with the baby was just a few hours after the birth. My wife had to be taken into the next room for treatment and I just sat in the empty room holding my baby and feeling really like it was all a dream. It was surreal."
"My wife had to go back into the hospital a few days after the birth and I was left to look after the baby by myself. I was frightened to hold him without a chaperone, but once I got over myself I was fine. I just needed to find my feet."
"I had a rough time at the beginning, and [my son] cried every time I held him. To be honest, I withdrew from him and my wife. I wasn't alone with him for longer than five minutes until he was a toddler."
"We were still in the hospital and my wife went to take a shower. I just held my baby, looked into her eyes, and told her all the wonderful things she was going to do with her life. It was really emotional."
"My wife was definitely the main caregiver, and I work long hours, so there wasn't really a chance for me to be alone with the baby. [My son] wasn't actually a baby anymore by the time I had him to myself. He was about 15 months old and I took him swimming. I was really tense and paranoid about every little danger!"
"I am separated from my wife, and on my custody days my mom was always around to help me. Then, when [my son] was about 6 months old, my mom had to go to a funeral and I was left alone. I played with him, fed him, changed his diaper, and took him to the park. Then I looked at the clock and realized I still had six more hours with him."
"I was driving home from the hospital and my wife had to get out to fill her prescription. I turned around in the car and stared at my new baby and had a whole panic situation going on. I had to roll the window down and take deep breaths. I was seriously freaking out."
"I didn't even realize it was my first time alone with the baby until my girlfriend came home and said, 'You did it!' Then I felt quite proud of myself."
"The first time I watched the baby by myself it was because my wife was in bed sick. I realized how boring it is to look after a small baby. It made me appreciate everything my wife does."
"I have no idea how moms do it all. When I had the baby by myself, dinner wasn't made, the house was a mess, and I hadn't even brushed my teeth all day."
"I took the baby to the coffee shop. I couldn't believe all the attention I got. People were talking to me and helping me with the door. I felt like I was famous or something!"