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The Truth About Fatherhood

It's nearly impossible to explain to the uninitiated the enormity of parenthood, the all-encompassing giganticness of sharing your home with a baby. And unlike moms, who to some extent get to know the baby in utero, dads meet fatherhood with a head-on crash. The volume of baby needs, accessories, unguents, lotions, and balms can be astonishing. Meanwhile, maybe his wife had a tough delivery and isn't yet fully on her feet, his friends aren't as charmed by the newborn as he'd hoped, and he hasn't had a nutritionally square meal in weeks. Plus, he'll never make enough money to feed, educate, and protect his progeny, the car needs new tires...

The phrase "the rest of my life" takes on new, terrifying meaning (as in "This critter is my responsibility for the rest of my life" and "I'm never going to sleep/have sex again for the rest of my life"). He's not even sure he feels love for the wee one. The kid can't smile or say, "I love you, Daddy." It can't play catch. All it can do is cry.

It's a bit bleak, but only in the beginning. The hardest three months of parenthood are the first, often more so for dads, who are more reluctant to give up the way things were. Eventually, though (infants wait for no man), dads do relinquish the past, especially with so much attention focused (rightfully) on Mom and the baby. Here, some particularly bumpy adjustments that new fathers must make when the baby finally comes home.

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