#DadFails: Errors on the Way to Fatherhood

During the adoption process, many people asked if we were “ready to be parents.”  After surviving mounds of paperwork, payment schedules and the home study process, the idea of becoming new parents didn't faze us anymore. We had ample babysitting experience with our nephews, and my husband was a seasoned diaper changer. But in the week or so after our daughter’s arrival, through a series of what we coined “#DadFail” moments, we found out how much we still had to learn.

#DadFail 1 – 10 Minutes to Conquer Babies ‘R' Us

When we received word we had been chosen by our birth mother, we were given two hours to make our way down to the agency – about an hour and a half away – to pick up our daughter. Being the superstitious types, we had window-shopped for months but refused to buy anything. As a result, we were completely unprepared, even lacking the only item essential to bring her home: a car seat. In between excited phone calls and waves of emotions, we made our way to the nearest store, browsed car seats, threw one in our cart, and picked up a base on the shelf right next to the car seats.

We had no idea there was already a base in the box with the car seat, but in truth, we certainly ended up using an additional base. Paranoid that we were buying the wrong products, we asked the cashier, “Is this base compatible with this car seat?” Reassured and feeling accomplished (and having spent a quick $350 in the store on immediate needs), we made our way to the car to install the car seat. And quickly failed again.

#DadFail 2 – Car Seat Base Installation

By the time we checked out, we had 5 minutes to install the base and get over to the agency office. In a total panic and unable to decipher the abstract stick-figured instruction booklet, my husband ran back into the store to ask for help. All he came back with was an address of a nearby hospital that could show us how to install it. No time! Thankfully, a social worker with the agency installed it for us so we could bring her home safely. As it turned out, that was the easy part.

#DadFail 3 – Bringing Her Home

Our baby girl fell asleep in the now perfectly installed car seat on the drive home. When we pulled up to our house, we discovered we had no idea how to get the carrier out of the car. (Hint for other inept new dads: There’s a release button). We started to hyperventilate a bit as we yanked on the carrier to try and disconnect it from the base, but the safety mechanism was fully operational, and the seat wouldn’t budge. We felt doomed to spend our first night with her stuck in the car! Resigned, we unlatched her from the carrier and left the seat in the car until someone more experienced could help us figure it out.

#DadFail 4 – Directionally Challenged

The car seat wasn’t the only Graco product that gave us trouble. We purchased a bouncer/swing combo later that week. Determined to prove my masculinity and ability to “become a father,” I set out to put it together myself. After all, I had figured out numerous Ikea products – this had to be easier! A half hour later, I was feeling pretty good. All seemed to be in order, until I tried to connect the two pieces. I discovered that I had misread Step 2 and installed the bouncer legs upside down! They snapped into place as they should have, but upside-down, and now appeared to be stuck and impossible to fix. Once again experienced (and straight) friends saved the day and my sanity.

#DadFail 5 – Smart Diapers, Not So Smart Dads

Things progressed pretty well from there, and we both calmed down a bit and eased into our roles.  Thankfully, friends gifted us with a small stockpile of diapers. After a week and a half, we met up with some friends. During the course of the afternoon, we wondered if was time for a diaper change, when our slightly more experienced (and straight) friends let us in on a tip we hadn’t yet discovered: Most major brand diapers, including the ones we used, had a “wetness indicator.” It was designed to be new-parent proof! A clear sign we weren’t alone. How many times in the week prior to this discovery our daughter had sat in wet diapers is anyone’s guess, and hopefully it wasn’t a terribly long time.

Fortunately, our daughter seems to have forgiven us for our missteps or may not have even noticed. With a few hiccups along the way, we’re finally settling into a routine and enjoying new parenthood.

Posted by Scott Goldman

Scott Goldman is a NJ transplant currently raising his daughter with his husband in the Lehigh Valley. An original GWK blogger, he is An arts administrator for a NJ regional theater and grants manager for the Laurents / Hatcher Foundation

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