Initial thoughts on fatherhood

Published on 16 October 2015

Our daughter Valérie was born two three weeks ago. This post is a collection of thoughts and first impressions that my tired brain will probably forget if I don’t write them down.


Priority zero

The most significant change for me was the very strong shift in priorities. From the moment of birth became the priority number zero far, far above all other things. I mean, sure, yeah, I knew we were going to have a child, which included reading books, building all kind of Ikea furniture and generally “getting ready” (although I think “getting ready” is the wrong wording for it – you never are really ready). But all of what happens before birth is theoretical and all of what happens at / after birth is deeply emotional which makes this experience so hard to put into words.

Your baby just becomes the most imporant being ever for which you will happily drop everything and everyone if necessary. I won’t elaborate on this any more since this is an experience which cannot be conveyed by words – I head read about other accounts on parenthood before but it just is a pale textual representation of what is really going on.

Baby relativity theory

According to the general relativity theory time slows down until a grinding halt the closer you get to a black hole. With a baby it’s the exact opposite: suddenly your days just vanish into nothingness in the blink of an eye. Two Three weeks of my life just passed and I have literally no idea what has happened. See, I started writing this post a week ago and went for a short break while writing it – it looks a lot like short breaks are a bad idea from now on if I ever want to finish anything in a reasonable amount of time.

It’s like someone pressed the “turbo” button and now the CPU clock runs at 33 GHz instead of 33 MHz. Friends tell me this is not going to stop – “they grow up so fast”, they tell me. I don’t think they grow up so fast, they just suck you up in an unescapable space-time distortion field.

Sleep, interrupted

To be fair, it isn’t so bad yet – I expect things to get worse. So far Valérie wakes up every 2-3 hours and is unhappy, which at the moment most of the times means that she is hungry (a big part of our job these days is Cry Origin Analysis which includes a fair amount of speculation).

So at the end of the day it isn’t so much the lack of sleep that is troublesome as a new parent – what is by far worse than the lack of sleep are the constant interruptions especially as these are by no means meaningfully synchronized with our natural sleep cycle.

The lack of sleep is by far more troublesome for my wife than for me, since I cannot really feed her and do not have to awake at that time.


A little known fact to people that do not happen to have slept in the same room than a baby: they make all sorts of noise at night. Grunting, burbling, yawning, you name it. And that’s perfectly ok for the baby. For us it is rather disturbing and we can’t seem to find the volume down button.

Milk search algorithm

I found one of the most fascinating things to be the built-in instinctive milk search algorithm. It is activated when the baby lies against your belly or chest and is hungry, and goes like this:

  1. Turn head to the right
  2. Attempt to locate milk source
  3. If none found, turn head to the left
  4. Attempt to locate milk source
  5. If none found, move up by pushing legs
  6. Repeat until milk is found or start crying

Milk location happens by smell and when she’s hungry Valérie will attempt to find milk even when I am the one holding her. Explaining her that this won’t work has not been successful as yet.

Alcohol is a lot less appealing

Did you ever have a drink when utterly jettlagged? That’s exactly what it feels like when having a drink now. So I’m generally avoiding any kind of alcohol these days. Instead I am buying one case of this beer after another:

l_erdinger alkfrei

It’s isotonic and generally provides calories which is a good thing for my wife (she needs around 500 kcal more per day than if she wasn’t breasfeeding) and it is so far the only non-alcoholic beer I know of that does not taste like someone had put a shot of soap into it.

This concludes my list of first impressions. I wonder what I will think of this post in a few years time.

Liked this article? Subscribe to the mailing list to get updates on similar topics.


Leave a Reply