At 9:18 AM on August 1st, 2017, Danielle and Chad’s life changed forever. Their first baby, Connor, was born. Good news for me: Danielle is my sister, so on that day, I became an aunt to the most precious baby boy ever.
A month after he was born, I sat down with Danielle and Chad to find out what it’s like to have your first child.
I know it’s probably impossible to describe, but what was it like seeing your baby for the first time?
Danielle: It is impossible to describe. It really is. People say that your whole pregnancy and you’re like, “Yeah yeah okay,” you’re going to be overwhelmed with joy and you try to compare it to other times in your life when you’ve felt joy, like when Chad proposed or when we got married, but it’s just a different type of love completely. Something that you created.
Chad: It’s definitely a whirlwind of emotions. It took so long for him to come out — he was already 9 days late. After all this work and intense pain and time and waiting and making sure that he was healthy for him to finally just be out. It was such a relief like, “Oh he’s here and he’s breathing and he’s fine.” It was a major relief to see him and him be happy and healthy.
It’s just a different type of love completely.
Danielle: It was definitely like a pinnacle kind of feeling. A culmination.
Chad: You just pray that everything’s alright and then when it finally happens and he’s here. It changes everything. It’s not just me and her anymore. We’re family.
How have your feelings and your love for him changed over the last 4 weeks?
C: You start to realize that he can’t do anything on his own. You have to do everything for him. Every little thing that he does you just love more and more. I’m starting to learn what every little sigh means.
He’s my buddy and he’s always going to be there and I’ll be there for him.
Soon after he was born, Danielle was asleep and I was feeding him and he was just staring into my eyes and I just had that connection with him and it just felt like it was me and him. It was the first time we bonded. It gets more intense every day because you know him more. He’s my buddy and he’s always going to be there and I’ll be there for him.
D: The first week or two, I was still recovering from surgery and in a lot of pain and stressed out, and I still have those feelings, but it’s gone from worrying to trying to enjoy every moment. From being so overwhelmed with this new responsibility and wondering if I’m doing it right to trying to let go of that and just enjoy those moments.
C: A lot of time at the beginning we were trying to be in control of every little thing and now we’ve realized we have to just let things be sometimes. But you also have to remember he’s a baby. You never know what’s going to happen.
D: Not that I thought that I’d be some natural mom, but I guess I thought I’d have more control over things. Like if I have a schedule in mind, then that’s how it’s going to happen. But they totally don’t. They 100% do not.
Right now, we just need to make sure he’s alive at the end of the day.
Have your feelings about Connor and being a parent met your expectations?
D: I don’t know what I expected. There’s no reference point. We’re still so early in too, so it’s hard to say how I feel as a parent or how I thought it was going to be when we’re really just trying to survive each day. There hasn’t been a lot of parenting in that sense. I’m looking forward to that part. Teaching him stuff and watching him learn and explore. Right now, we just need to make sure he’s alive at the end of the day. That’s our only responsibility right now.
What’d you think that being a dad would be like, Chad? And how has it been in reality?
C: It’s hard to predict but you see everyone else trying to be parents. I kinda thought it’d be like this. Just taking care of somebody, which is basically all it is. Just the daily stuff has been different than I expected. You don’t think about how long it takes to do these little things.
D: Yes! Our day is full of menial tasks.
C: Before Connor, I could get ready 15 minutes before I needed to leave, but now it’s 45 or an hour.
D: And you think you’re ready to go, but then you have to start all over.
What do you hope for Connor?
D: A lot. I have high expectations for this little guy.
C: I just want to expose him to everything, you know? Give him a fair shot at everything, whether it be music or sports. I don’t want to force things on him, but I want him to be able to choose what he wants to be and embrace that. It’ll be interesting to present him with all the information and let him choose who he wants to be.
D: I want him to be thoughtful and open-minded. Those are the top two. I hope that he’s creative and inquisitive and curious and kind, but being open-minded and thoughtful encompasses those things.
You have to work as a team constantly, so you’re always filling in each other’s weaknesses.
What exactly do you mean by thoughtful?
D: Mindful of other people’s feelings. Thinking about the big picture. Looking at things from a greater perspective. Seeing how your actions affect other people.
How has y’all’s relationship changed since having a baby?
C: It’s gotten stronger. You have to work as a team constantly, so you’re always filling in each other’s weaknesses. You have to always be doing what the other person isn’t or doing what they need you to do without them even asking. You have to be patient.
D: Patience. Our patience has been tested for sure. For me personally, it’s made me more self-aware, which doesn’t mean necessarily that I’m doing the right thing, but I’m more aware of when I’m nagging or getting frustrated or keeping my feelings to myself. It’s not just me and him anymore. I have to constantly remind myself that my behavior and my actions and relationship with him affects the whole dynamic of the family. So I’ve had to be more aware of how I’m treating him and taking steps to do it the right thing even though that’s hard a lot of the time.
We told each other even before we had him it’ll be important to make sure our relationship is a priority.
What we’ve been good at, even when we have one second of downtime, is reconnecting or thanking each other for something we did that day or saying we love each other. And we told each other even before we had him it’ll be important to make sure our relationship is a priority. Not the priority, but a priority also. He’s going to be the priority forever.
I heard recently that couples with kids talk on average 35 minutes a week and most of that is logistics.
D: Wow. One thing I have noticed, at least in the past few nights, is when we have to wake up to take care of him every few hours in the night, means that he and I are both up together. Having that hour to talk, even if it’s not a full-on deep conversation, has been great. Just asking, “Did you have any funny dreams?” or “What’s Connor doing right now?” has given us a little time to reconnect. It’s made a huge difference.
Do y’all talk about anything but the baby anymore?
C: We talked about going on a date!
D: Yeah, talked about it. [laughs]
Maybe by the time this is published, y’all will have gone on that date.
[Update: They did! They talked about Connor the whole time and rushed back as soon as possible.]
D: We definitely mostly talk about the baby now. It’s probably 90% baby.
You think you have shit under control, but you don’t have a damn thing under control.
Anything else surprising about being a new parent?
D: It’s definitely very humbling. You think you have shit under control, but you don’t have a damn thing under control. I spent all this time writing up a birth plan, but it stayed in its folder the entire time.
That was our first glimpse into how things are not going to go how they planned. Sometimes they turn out better and sometimes they turn out…not better. But it’s going to go the way it’s going to go and the best thing you can do is ride with it. Don’t try to fight it or it’s just going to be more frustrating. I’m someone who likes to be in control and that expectation was totally thrown out the window the moment we got to the hospital to have him and there’s nothing you can do about it.
C: It’s worth every minute of it.
D: There are a lot of cliches about how parenting is the hardest and most rewarding job ever, but that’s so true. Anything else that keeps me up for this many hours at night isn’t worth it. This is worth it though.
C: I feel like I have a bond with him stronger than anyone else, except for Danielle.
D: We have so much to look forward to still. We can’t wait until we can start teaching him stuff. See what kind of little person he’s going to be.
Any idea what kind of personality he’s going to have?
D: Sometimes I think he’s going to be really chill and sometimes I think he’s going to be super type-A.
C: He was 9 days late, so I think he’s going to be pretty chill. Not in a hurry to get anywhere.
D: How has it been being an aunt?
I love it. It’s funny because there is the cliche about getting them when they’re fun and handing them away when they cry or need a diaper change, which is so true. People have asked me if he’s giving me baby fever but it’s totally the opposite. I’m just so happy with him and he’s so precious and I love him so much, why would I need another one?
D: He’s all the baby you need!
Are you a parent? How did your life change when your little one arrived? Are you expecting? What do you think it’s going to be like? What have you heard from other parents?
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