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5 New-Father Fears: How to Ease Them (Take 2)

You have a new baby — but instead of feeling overjoyed, Dad’s freaking out. Find out why fathers worry and how to help ease these fears.

How will I concentrate on both my baby and my job?

Today’s dads define themselves not merely as breadwinners but also as nurturers. To devote more time to their little ones, some new fathers consciously step off the fast track or arrange to work shorter hours. Others, like John Persano, of Escondido, California, even change plans completely. John was going to pursue a career in the U.S. Marines, but after the birth of his daughter, he decided to look for a private-sector job instead. “I made the decision so I could spend more time with Alyssa,” he says.

How to Deal: Ask any working mom. Women have proven for years that with a little flexibility it’s possible to be fulfilled on the job and at home. That balance is hard to come by, but John achieved it. Instead of becoming a career military man, he signed up for the Marine Reserves. After a tour of duty in Iraq, he went to work for a military contractor, using skills he developed in the armed services. He arrives at work extra early so he can spend several hours each evening with Alyssa before she goes to bed. “It’s the right trade-off for me,” he says. “I’m more in control of the time I spend with my family, and I still get to do work that I enjoy.”

Will I ever get my wife’s attention again?

The scenario is common: With Mom busy tending to the newborn, Dad begins to feel like a third wheel. “I tell new fathers that if your wife isn’t paying attention to you, everything’s normal,” Dr. Linton says.

The adjustment was difficult for Andrew Cope, of Burlingame, California, after the birth of his son, David. For the first two months, he and his wife, Lisa, spent their rare free moments catching up on sleep — leaving them no time for each other. “I kept wondering, ‘Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?’ ” he says.

How to Deal: Concoct ways to have fun as a family. For Andrew and Lisa, that meant taking daily walks near their home with David. “It helps us reconnect,” Andrew says. “It’s our time alone together, even though our baby is in the stroller.”

Will I ever get my old life back?

Many men obsess about losing their old identity. Peter Igneri, a physician’s assistant from Colchester, Vermont, worried he’d have to give up his post at the local volunteer firehouse when Ellis, the first of his two sons, was born. “I’ve been a firefighter since I was a teenager,” he says. “I was used to dropping everything to respond to calls, and I couldn’t anymore.”

How to Deal: Make compromises. Peter pared back his commitment to the fire department significantly until he settled into a new family schedule. Then, when Ellis turned 1, he gradually stepped up his volunteer efforts. “I can’t run out the door every time there’s a fire because my wife and kids come first, but I’m involved again,” he says.

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