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Becoming a Parent

CozyKin's Head of Engineering, Matt Brand, shares his perspective on becoming a dad over ten years ago.

By Matt Brand, Head of Engineering at CozyKin

My wife and I got married in February of 2007. For her job, my wife does a lot of accounting work. I’m a software engineer. We’re a pretty organized and efficient team, and we were pretty well-aligned on family goals when we got married.

Let’s go back to the summer of 2007.

I came home from work and my wife had left a series of post-it notes on the steps leading into the townhouse we lived in. The notes revealed that she was pregnant. High-5 to her and then I ran right out the door to go to a local bookstore to find some sort of guide on how parenting is supposed to work.

I’m only half joking.

We were both thrilled and had our moment to soak it in and reflect on how life was about to change. Once we were both able to breathe regularly, we decided to take a ride to the local bookstore. That part is true. I know 2007 wasn’t that long ago, but the amount of free content on the web, YouTube (which was only two years old at the time), and other resources about parenting weren’t that easy to find. The way we decided to dive in was to start researching and start to get prepared for Baby.

I always knew that when I became a parent, I’d want to be as involved as possible. Those old and “traditional” roles that people commonly referred to as “Mother” and “Father” never made a whole lot of sense to me. I knew that there would be things that I was better suited to handle and there would be things that my wife would be better suited to handle. Aside from the more obvious physiological tasks that I’m incapable of taking on like actually being pregnant, giving birth, breast feeding perhaps, and being strong emotionally, all the other bets were off. Bring it on.

I remember feeling like no matter how many books I read, I was never going to be prepared enough to make me feel comfortable. Almost everything I could find was written by women, for women. I get it: for a very long time, in many families, women have been the parenting foundation. My father is a fine example of parenting and I say this without judgement: I’m fairly certain he changed exactly 0 of my diapers. The time and roles were different.

Times were changing.

Matt Brand with his daughters in 2010.

I was certainly not unique in my interest in being as prepared and involved as possible. We went to all the standard pregnancy classes and I met all sorts of parents, many of whom were men, all there for the same reason: do our best to be responsible parents.

My wife would tell you that her pregnancy was pretty smooth. We had prepared as best as we could, had ordered furniture (but not had it delivered yet thanks to some superstitions we hold), had the basics ready to be unboxed (like car seats, a stroller, etc) and had our “go bag” packed.

About a week after her due date, we were out having lunch, doing the classic, “let’s soak in the quiet while we still can,” and trying to “get as much sleep as we can.” We do these sorts of things as if you can “store” the sleep and use it later. After lunch, we went into the grocery store to get stuff for the week (it was a Saturday afternoon). My wife went into the bathroom, came out, found me in the produce department and told me, “Either I just peed in my pants or my water just broke.”

This is when it all really hit me. In a very short period of time, our house (we moved during the pregnancy) will go from two to three residents. All the selfish questions that I’d been quietly asking myself and/or assuring myself of during the pregnancy just got a lot louder:

“Work will be fine, right?”

“I already don’t sleep much so this will be fine, right?”

“I’ll go back to the Red Sox in a few years, right?”

All the selfish questions that I’d been quietly asking myself and/or assuring myself of during the pregnancy just got a lot louder:

 

“Work will be fine, right?”

 

“I already don’t sleep much so this will be fine, right?”

 

“I’ll go back to the Red Sox in a few years, right?”

Prior to that moment, even though I watched my wife get more and more pregnant, it all felt theoretical. Now it felt very real. We didn’t even know if we were having a girl or a boy.

Side note: I hate surprises but not knowing the sex of the baby is one of the most incredible surprises you can give yourself.

In the most unexciting, non-movie way, nothing really happened. We went home and waited. There were no real contractions yet. Just waiting…

...and waiting…

The doctor told us to come in the next morning if nothing changed.

Nothing changed.

We went in the next morning.

Labor and delivery took just a few hours (about 21 from the time we got to the hospital). I remember standing there, “helping” in whatever way the doctors, nurses, and my wife told me, thinking, “any minute I’m going to meet my child.”

My child was born and I got the wonderful job of telling my wife that we had a daughter. My wife claims I didn’t tell her fast enough; that perhaps I didn’t recognize anatomy. I’m sure it felt like an hour for her but I’m telling you: watch your child be born and then immediately have to recognize body parts and then try to communicate verbal words to someone else. It takes a second.

It all worked out perfectly. We eventually went home; all three of us. We worked together and figured out how to make things work; all three of us.

We asked for help when we needed it and supported each other throughout; all three of us.

It isn’t easy. Everyone knows that. Parenting is hard work and to quote my good friend Teddy Roosevelt, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”

There was lots of effort and lots of difficulty. There was even some pain. With all that, though, comes the greatest reward and greatest satisfaction because I, we, get to be part of shaping and guiding another human towards becoming a great person.

Watching my first daughter be born was the first of the two most incredible things I’ve ever experienced.

Three months after she was born, my wife told me she was pregnant…

...but that’s a story for another time.

Matt Brand is a married dad with two daughters, who are now 10 and 11 years old. He met his wife at summer camp (the summer camp where his daughters currently attend) way back in the 90s and they live in the Boston suburbs. Matt is also the Head of Engineering at CozyKin. He has been an early member of startups for the past 20 years. He is a giant nerd. When he’s not working, Matt loves movies, all the Boston sports teams, writing for his daddy blog, and is also an elected member of his town’s School Committee. You can find him on Twitter @realmattbrand.

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