While mothers (deservedly) get a lot of support throughout their pregnancy, the same can’t always be said about dads, who can sometimes come through the fourth trimester feeling like they’ve missed a memo.
Fortunately, there are plenty of new fathers looking to step up and provide the encouragement they wish they’d had at first. One of those dads is Tao, a member of the Cradlewise community.
He and his wife, Mary, had their son, Theo, seven months ago, and we got his input on tackling infertility issues, how to show up for your family first, and why he’s so passionate about his Cradlewise.
Cradlewise: How did your parenting journey begin?
Tao: It took us close to two years. And it was a journey, right? It was a high-risk pregnancy, so we were in and out of clinics probably every week. When he finally got here, he was a nice, healthy kid. So we’re very thankful.
Cradlewise: What was it like meeting your son for the first time?
Tao: People will say that I was crying, but I think it was my allergies. [laughs] What’s the best way to describe it…for anyone that’s not a parent, it’s basically like, all the emotions you could experience plus all the emotions that you didn’t think were possible happening all at once, all the time.
So the first couple of days, it’s a combination of joy, love, happiness, fear, anxiety, and just everything.
Cradlewise: Do you feel like there’s enough emotional support available for men who are about to become fathers?
Tao: Absolutely not. And we as the fathers have to kind of be that rock and not be fazed. But deep down, I’m just another duck in the pond, my feet down below the water going a mile a minute. Luckily, I have a couple of very close friends that I can talk about this stuff with.
There aren’t a lot of dad groups, but if you have a few close friends, talking it out helps. Otherwise, you’re wondering if something’s wrong with you.
For example, miscarriage is so common. And I feel like, as a guy, I’ve never even heard about it. Until you start to go through the process, and you’re like, ‘Oh, you too. Oh, you too. And you too.’ Why don’t we open this up? So there’s a lot of that discovery.
“ For example, miscarriage is so common. And I feel like, as a guy, I’ve never even heard about it. Until you start to go through the process, and you’re like, ‘Oh, you too. Oh, you too. And you too.’ Why don’t we open this up? So there’s a lot of that discovery.”
Or another example—I had to give my wife potassium shots, which was hard at first, and someone told me about a way to make the process easier. That kind of sharing is so important.
Cradlewise: How can dads support their partners through similar experiences?
Tao: Just be there. I think it’s important for couples to spend time apart, doing their own things, meeting their own friends, but I think it’s important to just be available.
For men, especially for someone like me who likes to problem solve, it’s also important to shut the hell up and just listen. Sometimes, that’s what they need.
Cradlewise: How do you balance work and family?
Tao: Family’s first. I like my job. I really enjoy my job. But I could walk away from it tomorrow. At the end of the day, nothing would trump my wife and my kids. And I’m lucky to be in a position where I think folks at work understand that’s my priority.
But not everybody’s that lucky, and I totally understand it. But then that’s where you kind of have to think about like, hey, if someone’s not going to consider your family’s needs, then maybe that isn’t the right place for you in the long run.
Cradlewise: How has becoming a parent transformed your life?
Tao: I think my life was changed more with COVID than with the baby. Pre-COVID, we would fly somewhere once a month. I used to think, how do we give up this life?
But now that he’s here, it’s just more planning. Instead of picking up a backpack to leave right now, I gotta grab a crib, maybe a small tub, maybe some formula. There’s more logistics, but it’s still your life. You’re still going to travel if you like to travel―but your kids are going, too.
I like classic muscle cars, so I teach him the ways of the things that I enjoy. You know kids get ABC books, right? Well at our house, A is for axel, B is for battery, C is for a clutch. So it doesn’t change―you’re still you, and now hopefully you can pass on these things you love to your child.
Cradlewise: What advice do you have for new dads on bonding with their child?
Tao: Just be there. Kids don’t need a lot from us. In front of a baby, you’re just a dad. So sing the songs. I don’t like to sing in public, but this kid won’t drink his milk until you sing “The wheels on the bus.”
So that’s what I do. It’s less about you, and more about raising them right. Focus on that, then everything else falls in place.
Another thing: I’ve always said, ‘I can’t wait until he’s three so we can start doing things like fishing and car rides.’
And then someone said something very profound to me: Don’t wish your child’s life away because you’ll get your wish. And then it really dawned on me that it’s quick. So, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy all of it. It makes for a cool story. All the things in between―the cleanup, the laundry, just things. It’s a cool time.
“ And then someone said something very profound to me: Don’t wish your child’s life away because you’ll get your wish. And then it really dawned on me that it’s quick. So, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy all of it. It makes for a cool story. All the things in between―the cleanup, the laundry, just things. It’s a cool time.”
Cradlewise: What impact has Cradlewise had on your parenting journey?
Tao: There are very few products that do exactly what is intended and keep working well. I can’t tell you how many toys that I’ve bought and either returned or thrown away. Or how many bottles! I can start a whole bottle business at this point. [And my son] hates all of them. Nothing has lived up to the expectations like Cradlewise.
Snoo did the same exact thing, right? It was a very similar pitch—we got both, and we tried both, and there’s no comparison. I mean by leaps and bounds.
We also met with the founder when she was collecting feedback. And we were saying how, oh, you know, it’d be really nice if we could do this, or that. So it’s exciting as a parent to know that there’s a company out there that can provide such a cool product that takes our live feedback and grows with the kids.
So if there’s one thing that I would recommend, it’s this Cradlewise. It’s a total game-changer.
“ So if there’s one thing that I would recommend, it’s this Cradlewise. It’s a total game-changer. ”
The last thing I want to share is about sleep training. I can tell you, from 10 weeks until now, we put him down around 8:30 and we don’t see him until 7:00. It’s a huge difference!