In the days following the news that I was going to be a first-time father, I went through a range of emotions. Obviously, I was thrilled at the prospect of becoming a parent and anxious to meet the marvelous little boy my wife and I had 10 months ago. But I was also apprehensive about what it would be like to take care of a defenseless little child 24 hours a day and then overwhelmed as we began making plans and registering for items we would need.


I vividly remember the first time my wife and I went to look at all the supplies, essentials, gadgets and ephemera associated with raising a child. I had no idea what most of it was, how it would be used or why we would need it. There are more options on baby monitors than there are for smartphones, a wall of toys in every possible style and design, and even a whole row of nothing but pillows for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Even the various styles and sizes of clothing for infants took some getting used to.


Going through and trying to register for everything we’d need was an impossible task and it took us three or four attempts before we were able to get through it all.


But a year and a half later, all of that has changed.


These days, I’m pretty much an expert on anything pregnancy and infant related. Eighteen months ago, I had never heard of gripe water, but today, I can navigate directly to it in every store that has a baby section and explain the virtues of the different brands available to new parents.


I’ve got it all down and feel ready for just about anything the day — or post-midnight hours — can throw at me.


Except for those times something new and unexpected happens. Those are still scary.


One night last week, my son just wouldn’t stay asleep when I tried to put him down in his crib. It took three tries before my wife and I were able to get him into a deep enough sleep that his eyes didn’t immediately shoot open when I put him down.


But even when he was finally down for the night, it didn’t last as he woke up hysterical a few hours later. I got up, changed him, comforted him and prepared a new bottle with hopes of returning to bed myself shortly. However that was not to be the case as he again would wake up as soon as I set him down for the night.


After two hours of rocking him back to sleep, only to have him wake right up, I just stretched out on the floor next to his crib and rubbed his back through the panels on the side until he was able to fall asleep.


My wife and I had no idea what was causing him to continuously wake up, so we took him in to see the doctor. It turns out the poor boy had a mild ear infection that was bothering him whenever he was completely vertical. That’s the kind of thing I don’t know how to deal with, so I’m glad there are experienced doctors who can tell us just what to do to get him better.


Now I just need someone who can explain the toddler clothing system to me and I’ll be all set for the next year of his life.


William C. Wadsack is the managing editor of the Herald Democrat and a first-time father. He never realized just how expensive babies can be until the birth of his son. Email him at wwadsack@heralddemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter @WCWadsackHD.