FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- This week is about new beginnings for Marcus Gilchrist. In more ways than one.

On Sunday, he'll play his first regular-season game as a New York Jet. But this past Wednesday, he became a first-time father.

"For so long, everybody kept telling me it was going to be indescribable. So now, that's how it feels," said the former Chargers safety who signed a free-agent deal with the Jets in March. "It's just crazy to see something that's a part of you, something that you made. I just take pride in the responsibility of raising her."

Gilchrist, 26, and his girlfriend, Nicole, arrived at the hospital at 8 a.m. Tuesday. But it wasn't until midnight Wednesday that their baby girl was born. And Gilchrist was right there by Nicole's side the entire time. "Of course I was there," he said, smiling.

Sleep is a precious commodity for the couple now. But the veteran defensive back said he never once considered skipping practice.

"No, not at all. It's game week," said Gilchrist, who was sidelined prior to training camp because of a shoulder injury. "I knew I'd be there just as soon as work was over with, just like I know I'll be there as soon as work is over today.

He left the hospital at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at the Jets facility by "5:50ish." At 6:12 a.m., Gilchrist tweeted: "Sophia Nicole!!! 9-9-15, nothing like this feeling!!! Great way to start off game week!"

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And within a few hours, he was back on the practice field.

"When I'm off work, I'll dedicate my time fully to her," Gilchrist said. "But she's gotta have milk."