The First Night From A Year Ago

With my daughter just turning one yesterday, I had some time to reflect back on what a crazy first night it was when she came into this world. Behind this confident looking dad constantly posting Instagram photos of how wonderful being a dad is – lies a memory of a traumatic, life changing first night at the hospital. A night that has forever shaped this dad, and is now in the back of his mind whenever the inkling of having a second child comes into conversation.

The dad is more impressed with the lights than the baby.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


You know when you buy Ikea furniture and before you build, you go through the instructions and feel a little overwhelmed? That’s kind of like becoming a parent. You know what the end product looks like, but the process of getting there is what’s confusing and intimidating.

Babies: Assembly Required

You realize that the end goal is you becoming a competent and loving parent, but in order to become that, you need to go through so many confusing and trying steps.

That is what I realized that first night when she arrived.

I remember that the first night after she came out, when her mom was recovering and I was lying with her skin to skin on a makeshift couch bed, she was so tiny and so delicate.

I thought to myself:

“Oh sh*t, I have a daughter. Oh sh*t, I’m a dad now.”


That moment, I felt like everything that I had prepared myself for was useless.

Skin to Skin and Sing to Sing

I envisioned how I would be as a dad, and I envisioned how it would be like to have a baby. But when it finally happened, I never actually thought about process of become a dad.

Basically, for those first early moments, I just did stuff I saw on TV and movies.

Seriously, at one point in my hysterical mindset I thought, “Oh I must sing this song to her so that she’ll have an emotional attachment to it and be calm in the future whenever I sing”

I talked to her and told her how everything was going to be fine and life is going fantastic.

That was all a lie of course.

I mean can you imagine sleeping peacefully in a warm toasty bed only to be forced out to the cold winter streets – wet and naked?

I’d be pissed and freaked out.

For the rest of the night I remember her waking up and crying every one and a half hours. And I remember getting up each interval changing her diaper and bringing her to mom for feeding.

After the feeding I would put her in a loose swaddle and rock her so that she would fall asleep.

It Ain’t 5:05 In The Afternoon

All that crying. 

It sounded like they cross-bred one of those rubber chickens with a pterodactyl.

What a truly terrible sound.

I felt bad that she was crying and disturbing her mom, so I just started walking around the maternity ward shoeless with a tiny baby in circles.

At one point I even thought, maybe if I walk her over to the nurses desk, they’ll see how distraught I look and help me hold her for a bit.

Nope.

They just politely smiled and gave me a “your-wife-just-went-through-labour-and-you-better-hold-on-to-that-newborn-look.

Fair enough.

Basically I was so tired and overwhelmed, and I thought:

Shhhhhhh*t I have a daughter now, and thiiiis is how it’s going to be?


I really didn’t think it would be that hard.

But it was.

And it’s something that I’ll never forget.

Ever.

Of course things got better little by little as each day passed. And when we finally were discharged from the hospital, we felt relatively confident that we were able to do this.

And we were right.

As the weeks turned into months, and the months now became a year life is pretty sweet.

“Don’t drop baby, don’t drop baby.” 🙏😂

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


As I write this, my daughter is quietly taking a morning nap, and last night I even slept for 7 hours!

Life is good right now.

Really good.

Yes, there still are tough days and tough nights. But nothing can measure up to that first night.

I think the experience I gained on that first night was exactly what I needed to prepare me as a dad.

And that’s the thing about becoming a parent, you can read all the books, go to the pre-natal classes, or talk to seasoned parents about their experiences. But when the moment comes and a life is gifted to you, you forget everything just learn on the fly.

And you’ll never forget. Ever.

Once assembled, babies are great.

 

A Gamer Dad’s Worst Fear: No More Gaming

Confession time. While my wife was pregnant, I secretly promised myself that I would never change who I was at my core: A Gamer.

I thought, “Yeah, I’ll be a full-time Super-dad and I’ll do it all! But when the baby and mom sleeps, I’ll still have my time to play games.

Ha…yeah that didn’t work out. As I’ve written in the past, once you become a dad, there are so many assumptions that go out the door.

My naivety coupled with my lifelong relationship with videogames led me to believe that I would be able to do it all.  Little did I know, my relationship with videogames would eventually come to an end.

You see, videogames and I go way back.  From the early days of the Game & Watch Octopus handheld game giving me blisters, to me pouring months worth of hours into Final Fantasy, Skyrim, and Call of Duty – video games have been a big part of my life.

Why am I beaming? SNES for Christmas, that's why
Why am I beaming? SNES for Christmas, that’s why.

It is simply in my DNA.

A little fun fact about me, I actually tried to apply to working at EB Games three separate times in my lifetime, and each time I was unsuccessful. To me, I thought it was a dream job for me, but in hindsight it was probably a good thing that I didn’t get hired: It’s like a diabetic working at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – not a good combination.

Give it up Dad. Give it up.
Give it up Dad. Give it up.

I wasn’t ready to let it go. In fact, when the baby arrived, I still tried to sneak in a few minutes of Witcher 3 and NBA 2k16 between her naps.

But things felt different. I was playing, but it just wasn’t the same. It could be the weight of the world bearing down on me as a new dad, or it could be that I was sleep deprived.

Gamer Dad and baby
That’s me playing Witcher 3 while my 2 month old naps.

Whatever it was, it just wasn’t the same and I was shocked to believe that I was completely fine with it, but I still wanted to make it work.

You know when someone includes their childhood best-friend in their wedding party, even though they’ve clearly drifted apart? It felt like that, but with video games. Here was my first childhood friend and me desperately trying to hold onto something to keep the memories alive.

Before, I would feel antsy, or even grumpy if I didn’t get the chance to turn on the Playstation for a few days. But now, it doesn’t seem to matter to me anymore if I turn on the system. If you don’t count that week of Pokemon Go, I’ve been gaming free for the past four months. My PS4 and WiiU are no better than Ikea furniture props.

I know there are many dad’s out there who give up hobbies once they have kids, but this was something I never thought I can give up so easily. But it was easy.

Perhaps I knew that in balancing a full-time job, housework, dad blogging, and staying healthy, something had to be sacrificed, and so my childhood friend was let go.

I spend every free minute I have around my daughter when she’s awake, and giving up gaming became a no brainer.

If you were to tell me a year ago that I would willingly stop gaming and still enjoy life, I would think that you were nuts.

Perhaps one day, we will re-kindle our friendship and it’ll just be like old times. But for now, instead of sitting in front of a screen levelling up my character, I watch my daughter levelling up every day right before my eyes.

 

And I have no problem with that as I relish every single moment of it. 🙂

The #NES controller may be my first love in life, but this kid quickly replaced it the moment she stepped into our lives. For the past 8 months video games have been collecting dust and she’s been my go to when it comes to spending any free time I have. That said, she’s still only second to my wife of course. ☺️

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀Ingus (@snappingus) on

Dear Me From One Year Ago

Dear Me from One Year Ago,

 

If you are reading this your life will change in a week. I know by now both you and your wife have been trying to conceive without success. I want to tell you both to not lose hope. By now both of you have learned that getting knocked up is not as easy as it seems like on TV and in movies, and both of you probably feel pretty down on yourselves.

Don’t worry.

In one week when your wife goes to the doctor to check up on pelvic pain, you’ll both realize that she did not pull or strain anything, and that it’s really her lady parts doing some Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for a new inhabitant.

 

Yep that's your kid
Yep, that’s you holding a photo of your kid

Sorry to spoil the surprise a little but hear me out: Your life is about to change as things will never be the same, but the funny thing is, things will also feel so right.

Let me get some things out of the way. Your hometown Raptors will get swept in the playoffs, so don’t waste time there. I mean still cheer, but just know that it’s not the end of the world when the Wizards dismantle your team. The only significant thing about the playoffs is that you’ll find out she’s pregnant in at the doctor’s office while you stream the game with headphones on. The wife will come out, and give you a look that you’ll never forget.

Remember and savour that moment as I still do.

From the moment you find out, you’ll go through a lot of changes. Not nearly the same as your wife, but enough for you to realize that pregnancy is truly a shared experience.

For starters you will become the food police. Seriously, everything your wife puts in her mouth you’ll do a quick google search to see if it’s poisonous for her and the baby. My advice is to be reasonable but firm.

You’ll also learn that your wife will have crazy food swings, and get this: she’ll hate eating chicken. WTF right? How can she hate chicken? That’s your favourite animal!!! It’s just the hormones man. So stop reading and get an order of Popeyes in your system while you still can, cause the next nine months you can put a hold on eating poultry.

You’ll also buy a lot of crap. I mean a lot. Some stuff you didn’t even know existed. But don’t fret, most of the junk you buy is actually useful, so just smile and nod when she asks you if it’s okay to buy whatever. When you are shopping just don’t forget to have fun along the way. I know you will…I mean check this out:

Dad-to-be testing...oh geez.
You’ll make shopping fun…and embarrassing

Yep, you’ll still pull crap like this…And even though I’m warning you not to be an idiot, I know you’ll make it a goal to definitely do it.

Oh one final thing about buying stuff: your baby will be a little bit bigger, so just ease off on the newborn stuff.

So far, things sound okay, right? Well, here’s where you need to pay a little closer attention as I’m warning you now, not everything is as light-hearted and peachy.

You yourself will grow up more. I know you may think that you already know everything there is to know and that you are already mature. But something inside you will change, and you will somehow become more appreciative of life. You will appreciate your wife more, and definitely appreciate mom and dad more than ever. This is because you will begin to think like a parent and understand what they went through.

You're going to want to get comfortable searching on your phone on your back
You’re going to want to get comfortable searching for stuff on your back

What does “thinking like a parent” mean? Basically you’ll begin to worry about things. A lot of things. You’ll have some insecurities about your role as a husband and father. You’ll have many nights of waking up and googling answers. You will dig though forums and message boards to see whether what your wife is experience is common. Let me tell you this, the more you read into it, the worse it becomes. But you have a big role in all of this. The thing is you need to keep your wife sane and calm during those moments, so be the strong, calm, optimistic husband that you are.

Weeks 6, 8, 20, and 25 will be scary and both you and your wife will go through some heavy stuff. But just know that after each of these episodes, your bond with your wife will become even stronger, and both of you will be able to talk and laugh about these moments eventually. I’ll spare you the details, but you’ll quickly learn that pregnancy is f*cking scary.

You’ll also figure out that most people who share great news about pregnancy on social media are not trying to brag about their happiness, but rather they are simply celebrating all of the little triumphs after facing the scary moments.

 

Your perspective will change and you’ll never fear and doubt so much in your life, but that’s just the process of it all. Just protect your wife and yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.

This was me in NYC, ditching the wife to do a photo shoot. I will never live this down.
That’s you, and the last cool thing you’ll do in a while. Thank your wife for letting your ditch her for this.

You know how you think you’re so cool in taking street photos? Well that part of your life will draw to an end. Bummer right? Well not quite, you’ll quickly find a new photography outlet, and trust me: it’s wonderful. And if you’re not convinced, let me tell you this: you’ll have a last hurrah so to speak with taking pictures. In fact, you’ll ditch your pregnant wife to go to New York for something photography related, and it will be one of your best moments but also one of your tougher moments. You know what I said about appreciating your wife? You will really appreciate her after this, so never forget it even if she eventually does.

One thing I want to warn you about is to go to the movies while you still can. I can tell you that the last movie you’ll watch before becoming a dad will totally be worth it, and your wife will make it through the entire movie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Han Solo. (Oops spoiler). Just relax and try to watch the movie without worrying that her water will break. It’ll still be a few days until it really happens.

Here’s a warning though, it might be a good idea to stock up on spicy Korean noodles around the time she’s due. Just saying.

At this point you are probably wondering about the finish line. Well, let me just tell you that your wife will have a smooth labour and delivery. However, both of you will be faced with some complications after the delivery. It’ll be scary, and both of you will be tested. Just know that you’ll both tough it through. Simply trust in your love for your wife, and trust in your strength as a husband. I know you hate asking for help, but you will need to swallow your pride and ask for help. So just face it now: your family and friends will pull through, huge.

I know what I told you sounds frightening, but I am not trying to scare you or warn you to change course.

As a matter of fact the journey you are about to embark on is totally worth it.  As I type this now both your wife and baby are sound asleep and everything just feels right. There’s no better feeling than what I am feeling right now, and I’m damn excited for what you are about to face in the coming year.

Enjoy every moment you are about to experience, because in one year’s time you would want to remind yourself all the awesome you just went through.

Sincerely,

You From One Year Later Today

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P.S. For whatever reason you’ll deciding that “growing” a “beard”  is a great idea. Well this photo might convince you otherwise:

Don't kid your self
Don’t kid yourself Wolverine, use that razor.

 

7 Tips to Help You Take Better Photo’s of your Baby With Just your Phone Camera

When I check out mommy/daddy blogs/Instagram accounts, and see photos of their cute babies and toddlers, most of them are pretty good. I do say most of them, some of them are kind of lacklustre and don’t do their kid’s justice. I mean it shouldn’t really matter if they’re not professionally done, but I always think in my head, “well I think they could do a little better.”

I am by no means an expert (a photo snob – yes), but I feel that I have been quite successful in capturing some of my daughters moments and expressions.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

 This shot was taken with an iPhone

The purpose of this post is to share some of the techniques and knowledge that I use when I take pictures, and hopefully this can help improve the quality of the photos that you take of your kids.

So if you ever asked “How do I take better photo’s of my baby?” I hope this post can offer you some guidance and put you on the right track. It is safe to assume that most people reading this already have a phone with photo taking capabilities so that is why my tips focus on taking good pictures with just a cellphone, not a fancy DSLR or expensive Mirrorless camera. I mean, having children is expensive enough, I’m not going to advise you to spend more money on some stupid camera when you have everything you need already.

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