Mine is four years old now, and the one thing that I learned quickly but that other people seem to struggle with is learn to adapt.
People plan for having kids for a while sometimes and even those that don’t have about 9 months to think about it, so a lot of times you’re going to prepare for certain things or expect certain things and they will simply refuse to happen. Your baby won’t sleep like you want them to, won’t nurse when you wanted to avoid formula, will hate their baby toys, will get a rash from the diaper you stockpiled, etc. Roll with it. Stubbornly sticking to something that isn’t working will make you a thousand times more angry than just changing tracks despite your best laid plans. A family member wanted to keep their 6 month old on a strict feeding schedule because she felt that it made their baby sleep better/longer because they were full. So we’d all be together and the kid is miserable and crying, but it’s 15 minutes before bottle time so he had to wait. Feed the god damned baby. I’ve seen parents reduced to tears because they had everything laid out and it’s just not working how they assumed it would. Let it go and try something else until you find what works.
If your partner is nursing, there’s tons of support stuff you can do, especially at first. When my son was born, he had a tongue tie that made it difficult to nurse at first, so I always supported his weight in my wife’s arms and tickled his chin to make him keep working at it. Even after they snipped his frenulum and he didn’t need me to keep him going, there were tons of other things to do to be supportive. Whenever it was feeding time I would get the nursing pillow, or grab her cover if we were in public. Not that they need much burping with breastfeeding, but I would always take him and hold him afterwards and pat him. I took care of him in the middle of the night for everything other than feeding so my wife could get as much sleep as possible. My son did a lot of comfort nursing when he was little, he ate 14 times in one day, so the pediatrician recommended a pacifier just to give my wife a break. We had him in our room at the foot of the bed for his first few months in a basinet, and he would lose his pacifier and get cranky sometimes in the middle of the night. In order to let my wife get the most uninterrupted sleep, I started sleeping upside down in bed so I could just reach over and pop it back in as opposed to crawling over every time. Since she had to go back to work we pumped and froze, so I basically took over all of that for her to make it easier. Set up the machine, get the bottles ready, get the bags ready, label the bags, sanitize the parts, etc. Hell, I even manned the controls. I knew the experience sucked for her, so I tried to make it as painless as possible. So yeah, you might not be involved directly in the feeding part of that, but there are countless things you can do to help, and even during the quiet moments when the baby is eating that’s a great few minutes where they’re occupied and you can take care of other stuff that needs getting done. Lots of laundry was loaded up and diaper pails were emptied while it was eating time.
Also, and this is a warning for much further down the line, but it was something that I did not expect and very few people will tell you… There will come a time where you honestly, genuinely, and with a crystal clear presence of mind will come to hate a child with your entire being. Another kid will do something to yours, or say something to yours, and your heart will be filled with the blackest evil you didn’t even think was possible. It will be sudden, unexpected, and uncontrollable like having your knee tapped with a hammer, but it will happen. Forgive yourself now, because it’s a weird moment to come to grips with when it happens.