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As we celebrate Father's Day this year, a few Phi Delts are celebrating for their first time as a father. Andy Dykes (Mechanical Engineer '08) and his fiance, Teena, have a two month old daughter, Bianca. Jarred McCain (Computer Engineer '10) and his wife, Kerri, have a two month old son, Desmond James. And Joe Fulcher (Civil Engineer '10) and his wife, Becki, have a 5 month old son, Michael James. With a new generation of Phi Delts in the stages of their lives where they are getting married and starting to think about having children, these new Phi Delt fathers provided some insight into when they knew it was the right time to start trying to have kids. Jarred wanted to make sure that he had a steady job and that they were settled in a good community, although, he provided this disclaimer to his answer: "Funny how that works since I have moved and changed jobs since!" Since the birth of his son, Jarred has gotten a new job and moved from Ohio to Mississippi. Joe and his wife sat down and discussed children even before getting married just to make sure they were on the same page, and they had numerous discussions leading up to the decision: "Well, first thing before we ever got married we discussed our personal opinions on having kids. If we want to have a big family or a small family or no kids at all, when we hoped to have kids by, and what we would want to do if we were unable to have kids of our own. After we got married we discussed from time to time, when we wanted to start having kids. I always found myself saying I don't know if it's the right time. After 3 or 4 years of marriage, we began to realize things might never be perfect to start a family, but if we wanted to have a family we couldn't wait forever. We did a little research on financials and saved a little money. After 5.5 years of marriage we have our first child." For Andy, it was a completely different story. They knew that they wanted kids and that they were wanting to start trying after they got married, but things don't always go according to plan: "I wouldn't necessarily say we decided it was the right time, but we decided we were ready whenever the time came. We had actually planned on getting married first, and thought it would take some time actually trying to get pregnant before it happened.  Funny how things don't always go as planned."

One of the most difficult parts of having a baby can be choosing a name. These new fathers shared their experiences as they chose their baby names, and each of their processes was different. Andy went with the trial-by-error process, or rather Teena did: "We actually decided on the name by Teena throwing names out and I would reject most of them. We finally had a short list that we both liked and decided that we loved that name most." Joe and Becki honored loved ones that had impacted them: "We each picked a family member that had an significant role in our life. Michael after my uncle and James after my wife's grandfather." And Jarred and Kerri chose their son's name in a different way. They chose the name "[because] Desmond is an old and awesome Irish name!" All different processes, but the important thing is that they all came up with names that they loved.

There's one thing about having a baby that is the same for everyone: having a baby changes your life in one way or another. All three of these men had commonalities in their experiences about their life changes including their priorities, obligations, and of course sleeping habits. Joe adjusted to the life changes by focusing on the happiness that their child brought them: "The first few months after we found out, was filled with excitement and joy as we got to tell our friends and family the good news. As the pregnancy progressed, we began getting the house ready and prepare for the new member of the family. This is both an exciting and stressful time. Once he was born everything changed, but it was a welcomed change. Yes it took longer to go anywhere and I wasn't always able to get 8 straight hours of sleep, but sacrifices we make don't even come close to the joy that we get every time we look at him." Although, he has no regrets and wouldn't change a thing, Joe expressed his feelings about being out of touch with the newest movies: "The most difficult part has been the fact that I haven't seen a new movie in theaters since he was born. I know that sounds dumb, but I was prepared for diapers, spit up, crying, etc. But not for the new X-Men movie to come out." Jarred had to make some similar sacrifices in his life once he had a newborn: "Obligations at home became [the top] priority to support family." His sleeping habits also changed a lot with either him or his wife "having to get up twice a night to feed and change the baby." Besides his sleeping habits, he also had to cut back on other habits. Jarred expressed that his "Casual drinking dropped a lot." Even though sacrifices had to be made, it was all worth it, and the most satisfying part for Jarred is "Seeing my little boy smile!" Joe's most satisfying experiences are very similar: "There are so many satisfying parts, I don't think I can pick one. Right now I guess I enjoy how he smiles and laughs every day I pick him up from daycare." Andy sacrificed in the same ways, but he also had trouble watching his fiance go through the pain of pregnancy and birth without being able to do anything to help her: "I'd say once I found out there was a mix of emotions, mostly excitement and anxiety.  I chose to be much more responsible about certain habits and finances in preparation for the baby.  Honestly the biggest changes since she's been born is less sleep than normal, and now I'm feeding and changing diapers.  The most difficult part of the pregnancy through birth was not having any control over the situation at all.  You're standing there watching your significant other go through 9 months only to climax in excruciating pain during birth, and there's really not that much you can do to help.  The most satisfying part was being able to see Teena holding Bianca knowing that we created that little girl."

With all changes that a baby brings, some of those changes include interesting or funny moments. Andy had an interesting experience with the pregnancy announcement: "The funniest part for me was in the beginning of the pregnancy.  When I found out Teena was pregnant, I'd recently gotten back from a week long business trip in Japan.  She called me one day and hung up before I'd answered.  I thought it was odd because she never calls, always texts.  She kept beating around the bush in her text messages assuring me that everything was fine but deep down my gut told me she was pregnant.  I pulled in the driveway to find her standing there with a positive test in her hand." Joe just enjoys the everyday moments: "Every parent has all sorts of stories, most of which only other parents can truly understand the humor. I will say this, I will never forget the first time looked directly into my sons eyes at the hospital, the first time he smiled when he recognized my face/voice, or the times we spend on the couch with him facing me as he seemingly carries on a conversation with me." And Jarred hasn't had any really funny moments as of yet, but surely Desmond won't let that last too long.

These three ended their discussions with some fatherly advice for any new or expecting parents. Joe had some advice about diaper transport as well as some good hospital advice that most wouldn't think of: "First get the diaper backpack. They look just like a backpack and are much easier to carry than a diaper bag. Plus is doesn't look like you have a giant purse. Second make sure you pack shirts for your stay at the hospital. I had to make a trip out to get a few from the store." Jarred's advice sounded similar to the old "happy wife, happy life" saying: "Do your best to get your baby on a routine! It will make your nights not too bad. Support your wife whenever you can as far as holding the baby, changing, and feeding (if not breastfeeding). Your wife will appreciate it!" Andy had a surprising answer, but it definitely makes a lot of sense: "My best advice is watch the birth.  Don't be a chicken and hide or not look. This is a once in a lifetime experience to watch that child come into this world." Joe offered some final advice about taking advice from others: "First, take every piece of advice people give you with a grain of salt. Every baby is different, so what works for my son might not work with your child. Second, sleep when you can at first. They aren't going to start on a 10pm to 6am sleep schedule."

We really appreciate Andy, Jarred, and Joe for taking the time to give some insight into their new parenthood. Thanks guys! Happy Father's Day to you and to all Phi Delt Fathers!