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Why It’s Ok to Cry When You’re a Dad

Nothing can prepare you for becoming a father. Not even 11 years of working in the baby industry. We recently caught up with new daddy Mark May, who runs the global digital channel at one of our very favorite nursery brands bloom, and asked him to get honest about the transition into fatherhood. Below, he talks about life as a single guy in the baby world, people who buy cribs for dogs (for real), and why being a dad makes him cry...often.

What was it like being a single, non-dad guy in the baby gear business?

Being a 20-something, single guy with no kids entering the nursery industry back in 2007 was certainly challenging. I had no idea what any of the products were, why they were used and what problems they were solving. I had to jump in head-first and learn as much as I could, and fast.

Before I joined the world of parenthood, I was exposed to thousands of parents from across the globe. Although I dealt with a lot of crazy, underprepared and last-minute parents, I could only sympathize. We’ve had frantic conversations with dads on the way to the hospital who have yet to buy a crib, and mothers crying over not being able to choose the best high chair color to match their decor. We’ve even had more than one person buy a baby crib for their dog. I’ve since learned that no matter how prepared you are for baby, you are never, ever 100% prepared.

During this entire journey, I always wanted kids. As each year went on, I progressively wanted a baby more and more. How could I not? I have been constantly surrounded by cute babies, fawning mothers and dads who look like they were coping okay. It wasn’t until I fell madly for my wife Kimberly back in 2012 that I knew I was ready to join the club.

How did having your family in the business help guide your perceptions of fatherhood?

Since bloom was founded by four dads, there has been no shortage of fatherly advice in the office. Each dad has guided me in their own unique way and experience. Stuff like: sleep now or forever hold your peace. We are a very close family, and I’ve been very fortunate in being able to share my experiences and learn so much from everyone here.

Making sure I was ‘ready’ was the main concern at our offices. Of course, when Enzo arrived July 1st, 2017, our hospital bag was not packed! But at least our nursery was completely setup and looking beautiful.

Being in the baby gear business, did you feel prepared when the baby arrived?

Kimberly is an astonishingly talented interior designer at heart, so given the opportunity to fully customize a room in our loft space was something of a dream come true. Each day small packages from little Etsy boutiques in Australia, Japan or Europe would arrive, and another piece of our nesting jigsaw puzzle was put in place. I set up the crib, high chair and dresser. There are no tools needed in the majority of our line, which means you don’t need an Ikea engineering degree to put them together. Check out my time-lapse of the setup.

The first few days of being a dad were like no other; euphoric and sleepless. The wait was over. He had arrived. He had a name, a face and two parents who were utterly besotted.

What's been the most surprising part of fatherhood so far?

The most surprising part of fatherhood has been the raw emotion. Kimberly normally wears her heart on her sleeve, but I play my cards close to my chest. During our pregnancy, there was a role reversal just like one of those bad teenage rom-coms where they wake up in someone else's body. I’ve never cried so much in my life. The smallest of triggers would set me off.

On one particular occasion I found myself crying profusely in the kitchen because I love to cook, and I was imagining my weekends teaching my son the basics. It set me right off. This type of raw emotion, that I was used to being able to control, was wild. Instead of being embarrassed, though, I’ve now actually embraced it with open arms. They were happy tears after all. I still cry when we talk about how lucky we are.

How has becoming a dad changed the way you work?

Becoming a dad has completely changed the way I work. Every single baby product now has a new meaning, a new purpose, one that I can relate to more closely. It’s like textbook vs. real life -- you cannot beat real-life experience. And now that I’m a proud parent, I almost always forcibly let people know I have a newborn, which helps me to connect when I am dealing with our customers. Who wants to talk to a mechanic who doesn’t own a car?

When someone asks me my best fatherhood advice, I think about what my close friends told me: just be a ROCK. Be there for your partner in every possible way. As a father, you can sometimes feel helpless, especially during the pregnancy. It will be exhausting, repetitive, thankless, expensive, scary and that’s just you! For your partner, it’s all those things and more. Rub her feet, get her food, be a rock.”

Photography by Stylish Hip Kids Photography.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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