early fatherhood as a family of 5

EARLY FATHERHOOD

In early March, a week before our third daughter was born, I published a blog titled “Expectant Fatherhood.” I shared a bit about my mental health journey, my fatherhood journey, and my experience in therapy. I shared the complicated emotions and feelings that I was having as I anticipated the birth of little Margaret.

I’m writing this blog as an update on my mental health during this stage of early fatherhood to our youngest daughter, and how I’m processing life as a new father of three.

TIDYING UP THROUGH THERAPY

the day before baby #3 was born

My last therapy session was two weeks before Margaret was born. My therapist and I both felt like I had made progress and that I had met many of my therapy goals. I felt genuine excitement over putting into practice what I had learned.

I just didn’t anticipate how quickly that practice would come.

The day’s leading up to Margaret’s birth and the days that followed were incredibly stressful. The day before Margaret was born we learned that NYC schools were going to be closed for the foreseeable future. We learned that plans were being put into place to limit visitors into hospital delivery rooms. People were being encouraged to stock up on supplies, while also limiting trips in and out of their homes.

We got lots of hints that life as we knew it was about to change.

NEW FATHERHOOD FEELINGS

The day after Margaret’s birth, we made the tough decision for Emily to be discharged early from the hospital. We got approval from Margaret’s pediatrician to monitor her remotely so that we could leave NYC for a while. We quickly packed some bags and closed out our apartment for the next few weeks. I drove our family to our cottage in Pennsylvania in two separate carloads over two days.

During Emily’s pregnancy I felt moments of sincere joy and also moments of sadness. This continued after Margaret was born. Without my work in therapy, those days surrounding Margaret’s birth would have been nearly impossible for me to manage. But I was able to manage my anxiety in the midst of uncertainty by remaining aware of what I could control and what I could not control.

FAMILY PLANNING

girls reading on bed

Emily and I have been married for almost 12 years, and have always dreamed of having children. Before Margaret’s arrival, I felt deep sadness at the family planning stage being nearly over.

Those feelings still come and go. I’m consciously aware that this is likely the last time that I will be a newborn father. There’s comfort in knowing that all three girls are healthy. But I’m sometimes saddened at recognizing that in my fatherhood journey, this is probably the last time I’ll experience these new firsts.

IT FEELS DIFFERENT THIS TIME

baby on the bathroom floor

These first few weeks home with Margaret have felt very different from the first few weeks home with Mabel and Matilda. Emily and I have a confidence around caring for a newborn that we didn’t have yet with the other two girls.

We also have an increased awareness that “this too shall pass.” Mabel turned 5 years old at the end of April, so we now realize how quickly time does fly. The sleepless nights will fade. The teeth will come.  The nursing will stop.

It also feels different this time because we’re quarantined. We don’t have a physical in-person support system right now. No one has dropped off meals. No one has taken the older girls to the playground. And no one has come to visit or hold the baby.

In spite the of sadness that we feel about not being able to see family or friends, we’re grateful that everyone is healthy.

WORRY & FEAR

sisters

Before Margaret was born, I worried a lot about how having a newborn would impact my relationship with Mabel and Matilda. I was fearful that the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn would impact the energy and attention I was able to give to the older girls.

At the time, my dad reassured me that I would somehow find the energy to care for and love on all three girls. I was a bit skeptical. But of course, he was right. I am able to love and care for all of them.

girls on a trampoline

Our days are busy, but at times they feel so very long. The hardest time of the day for me is late afternoon. The girls still have so much energy left, and getting through dinner and bedtime can sometimes feel daunting.

In this season, Emily and I have realized that we need to check in with each other more. When one of us is able to to articulate that we are experiencing a mental or physical “low”, the other one is usually able to step in and provide support to one another or take over with the girls.

While in therapy, I learned that I often held back my thoughts and feelings from others because I didn’t want to burden them or I wanted to act like I didn’t need help. I’m learning to ask Emily for help when I need it and to share with her my levels of exhaustion or frustration.

FAMILY PHOTOS

early fatherhood as a family of 5

As I shared in “Expectant Fatherhood”, the process of taking professional family maternity photos was emotional for me. I now find it sad that Margaret is our first girl who hasn’t had professional newborn photos taken. We don’t have any professional photos of the 5 of us together. The little white newborn onesie that Mabel and Matilda wore in their professional newborn photos is still in their bedroom in NYC, and Margaret will probably have outgrown it by the time we go back home.

Someday when Margaret is older we will be able to recount what these months in quarantine were like, and explain why she doesn’t have beautiful, professional photos. And yet, we have captured so many candid photos of the 3 girls together, and what life looks like for us in quarantine right now. Her photo book will be filled with images of us down by the lake, playing in our cottage, and blurry self-timer photos of the 5 us taken on my phone.

DIFFERENT EMOTIONS EXISTING TOGETHER

quarantine

When Emily and Margaret were discharged from the hospital I turned to Emily and said, “That’s probably the last time we will be in the hospital for a “happy reason” for decades to come.” My mind filled with thoughts about my parents aging and the girls experiencing future sickness or pain. It was a lot to process in the moment, but I took a deep breath in and exhaled. In that brief moment, I felt profound joy AND profound sadness at the same time.

In that moment, I allowed myself to verbally process what I was feeling to Emily and then use a breathing strategy to calm and ground myself.

And then we entered an indefinite quarantine. We have no idea when stay-at-home orders will end in Pennsylvania or what life will look like when we return to New York City. There is still so much uncertainty.

I have never been more aware of the range of emotions that I am feeling all at the same time.

There are times when I’ve felt profound loneliness, because we aren’t able to physically see friends or family. And then in the same moment, I feel deep gratitude that our family has this time to be together just the 5 of us.

There are also many times when I’ve felt sadness over our decision to leave New York City for Pennsylvania, as if we’ve somehow abandoned life in the city that we love. But in the same moments, I also feel so thankful that we bought our cottage when we did, and that we have this home where we can safely quarantine.

I used to think moments should be defined as either happy or sad, but I am learning the reality that I often feel different emotions at the same time.

MENTAL HEALTH: A WORK IN PROGRESS

early fatherhood - newborn #3

It has been 8 weeks since Margaret entered the world. My mental health journey is certainly not finished. I am still a work in progress. It has been helpful for me to continue to practice implementing on my own what I learned in therapy.

I am trying to remain conscious of what I am feeling. Emily and I are trying to have more conversations about what we are feeling. I am trying to remain aware of what I can control and what I can’t control.

Some days are better than others. But I wanted to share that right now I’m doing okay.

Thanks for Pinning! 

I'm Tyler Moore 

My wife and I live with our three young girls in a 700- square-foot apartment in New York City. I started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


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May 11, 2020

Early Fatherhood

 

early fatherhood as a family of 5

EARLY FATHERHOOD

In early March, a week before our third daughter was born, I published a blog titled “Expectant Fatherhood.” I shared a bit about my mental health journey, my fatherhood journey, and my experience in therapy. I shared the complicated emotions and feelings that I was having as I anticipated the birth of little Margaret.

I’m writing this blog as an update on my mental health during this stage of early fatherhood to our youngest daughter, and how I’m processing life as a new father of three.

TIDYING UP THROUGH THERAPY

the day before baby #3 was born

My last therapy session was two weeks before Margaret was born. My therapist and I both felt like I had made progress and that I had met many of my therapy goals. I felt genuine excitement over putting into practice what I had learned.

I just didn’t anticipate how quickly that practice would come.

The day’s leading up to Margaret’s birth and the days that followed were incredibly stressful. The day before Margaret was born we learned that NYC schools were going to be closed for the foreseeable future. We learned that plans were being put into place to limit visitors into hospital delivery rooms. People were being encouraged to stock up on supplies, while also limiting trips in and out of their homes.

We got lots of hints that life as we knew it was about to change.

NEW FATHERHOOD FEELINGS

The day after Margaret’s birth, we made the tough decision for Emily to be discharged early from the hospital. We got approval from Margaret’s pediatrician to monitor her remotely so that we could leave NYC for a while. We quickly packed some bags and closed out our apartment for the next few weeks. I drove our family to our cottage in Pennsylvania in two separate carloads over two days.

During Emily’s pregnancy I felt moments of sincere joy and also moments of sadness. This continued after Margaret was born. Without my work in therapy, those days surrounding Margaret’s birth would have been nearly impossible for me to manage. But I was able to manage my anxiety in the midst of uncertainty by remaining aware of what I could control and what I could not control.

FAMILY PLANNING

girls reading on bed

Emily and I have been married for almost 12 years, and have always dreamed of having children. Before Margaret’s arrival, I felt deep sadness at the family planning stage being nearly over.

Those feelings still come and go. I’m consciously aware that this is likely the last time that I will be a newborn father. There’s comfort in knowing that all three girls are healthy. But I’m sometimes saddened at recognizing that in my fatherhood journey, this is probably the last time I’ll experience these new firsts.

IT FEELS DIFFERENT THIS TIME

baby on the bathroom floor

These first few weeks home with Margaret have felt very different from the first few weeks home with Mabel and Matilda. Emily and I have a confidence around caring for a newborn that we didn’t have yet with the other two girls.

We also have an increased awareness that “this too shall pass.” Mabel turned 5 years old at the end of April, so we now realize how quickly time does fly. The sleepless nights will fade. The teeth will come.  The nursing will stop.

It also feels different this time because we’re quarantined. We don’t have a physical in-person support system right now. No one has dropped off meals. No one has taken the older girls to the playground. And no one has come to visit or hold the baby.

In spite the of sadness that we feel about not being able to see family or friends, we’re grateful that everyone is healthy.

WORRY & FEAR

sisters

Before Margaret was born, I worried a lot about how having a newborn would impact my relationship with Mabel and Matilda. I was fearful that the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn would impact the energy and attention I was able to give to the older girls.

At the time, my dad reassured me that I would somehow find the energy to care for and love on all three girls. I was a bit skeptical. But of course, he was right. I am able to love and care for all of them.

girls on a trampoline

Our days are busy, but at times they feel so very long. The hardest time of the day for me is late afternoon. The girls still have so much energy left, and getting through dinner and bedtime can sometimes feel daunting.

In this season, Emily and I have realized that we need to check in with each other more. When one of us is able to to articulate that we are experiencing a mental or physical “low”, the other one is usually able to step in and provide support to one another or take over with the girls.

While in therapy, I learned that I often held back my thoughts and feelings from others because I didn’t want to burden them or I wanted to act like I didn’t need help. I’m learning to ask Emily for help when I need it and to share with her my levels of exhaustion or frustration.

FAMILY PHOTOS

early fatherhood as a family of 5

As I shared in “Expectant Fatherhood”, the process of taking professional family maternity photos was emotional for me. I now find it sad that Margaret is our first girl who hasn’t had professional newborn photos taken. We don’t have any professional photos of the 5 of us together. The little white newborn onesie that Mabel and Matilda wore in their professional newborn photos is still in their bedroom in NYC, and Margaret will probably have outgrown it by the time we go back home.

Someday when Margaret is older we will be able to recount what these months in quarantine were like, and explain why she doesn’t have beautiful, professional photos. And yet, we have captured so many candid photos of the 3 girls together, and what life looks like for us in quarantine right now. Her photo book will be filled with images of us down by the lake, playing in our cottage, and blurry self-timer photos of the 5 us taken on my phone.

DIFFERENT EMOTIONS EXISTING TOGETHER

quarantine

When Emily and Margaret were discharged from the hospital I turned to Emily and said, “That’s probably the last time we will be in the hospital for a “happy reason” for decades to come.” My mind filled with thoughts about my parents aging and the girls experiencing future sickness or pain. It was a lot to process in the moment, but I took a deep breath in and exhaled. In that brief moment, I felt profound joy AND profound sadness at the same time.

In that moment, I allowed myself to verbally process what I was feeling to Emily and then use a breathing strategy to calm and ground myself.

And then we entered an indefinite quarantine. We have no idea when stay-at-home orders will end in Pennsylvania or what life will look like when we return to New York City. There is still so much uncertainty.

I have never been more aware of the range of emotions that I am feeling all at the same time.

There are times when I’ve felt profound loneliness, because we aren’t able to physically see friends or family. And then in the same moment, I feel deep gratitude that our family has this time to be together just the 5 of us.

There are also many times when I’ve felt sadness over our decision to leave New York City for Pennsylvania, as if we’ve somehow abandoned life in the city that we love. But in the same moments, I also feel so thankful that we bought our cottage when we did, and that we have this home where we can safely quarantine.

I used to think moments should be defined as either happy or sad, but I am learning the reality that I often feel different emotions at the same time.

MENTAL HEALTH: A WORK IN PROGRESS

early fatherhood - newborn #3

It has been 8 weeks since Margaret entered the world. My mental health journey is certainly not finished. I am still a work in progress. It has been helpful for me to continue to practice implementing on my own what I learned in therapy.

I am trying to remain conscious of what I am feeling. Emily and I are trying to have more conversations about what we are feeling. I am trying to remain aware of what I can control and what I can’t control.

Some days are better than others. But I wanted to share that right now I’m doing okay.

Thanks for Pinning! 

May 11, 2020

Early Fatherhood

About me

Hi, my name is Tyler Moore. My wife and I live with our three young daughters in a 700- square-foot apartment in New York City. I began my tidying journey when an early-30’s crisis invited me to reflect upon, challenge, and change my patterns of daily living. I quit my job as a school administrator, returned to teaching, and started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


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