A Father’s Perspective on Birth
You’ve probably heard lots of contradictory stories about witnessing the birth of your first child. It’s a miracle; it’s horrifying. It’s beautiful; it’s nasty. It takes forever; it’s over before you know it. It’s sort of boring; you’ll never be as excited again. As a father of two beautiful little girls (Kara, 20 months, and Jaime, three months), I’m here to tell you that all of these descriptors are absolutely correct. It’s a horrifying, beautiful, nasty, miraculous process that takes forever but is over extremely quickly and, despite hours of sitting around doing nothing, is incredibly exciting.
I assume you’ve heard enough birth stories to keep you going so I won’t relate too many details of ours. Instead let’s examine the emotional impacts seeing his first child enter the world can have on a new dad…
New level of admiration for my wife
The first surprise for me was the huge amounts of admiration and awe I felt for my wife. Both times she gave birth without epidural. I’ve never experienced such bravery; it was the greatest honour of my life to see it. I fully appreciated for the first time what an incredible woman I’d married. I wanted to grab people from the hospital waiting room, drag them in by the collar, point to my wife and say, “See that woman? See how awesome she is? Have you ever seen someone that awesome? OF COURSE YOU HAVEN’T!”.
How if feels to first hold your baby
The second surprise was my reaction to first holding the baby herself. If you’re like me, you’ve got this clichéd image of yourself cuddling a beautiful rosy-cheeked little cherub, looking deep into its eyes as tears roll down your face. Yeah, ummm… nah. No-one tells you this, but when they’re first handed to you they ain’t beautiful. They’re all puffy and bruised-looking and covered in gunk. They’ve been swimming in their own meconium and vernix so they smell less than great. They can barely open their eyes and they scream more or less constantly – and oooh, that newborn scream… nails down a chalkboard would be a relief.
However, when you consider the idea of a newborn, that’s when you start really feeling something. You helped make a PERSON. This person, right here in your arms. You realise that you’re witnessing the very first moments of an entire lifetime – you can almost see it, extending decades into the future. Not only that, but that person is exactly half you and half your beloved wife. It’s just amazing to think about.
How long it takes to fall in love with baby
The third surprise – and this is something that’s different for everyone, Mums and Dads both – is how long it took to really fall in love. When Kara was about six weeks old and started actually seeing me and smiling in response… oh man. Despite the tininess of her little finger, I was wrapped around it from that point on. Some new parents are smitten immediately; others, like me, take months. Others, years – ie until they start talking and can interact and communicate. Typically it takes Dads a while longer than Mums. If it does, don’t waste time worrying like I did. It’ll happen. Guaranteed.
How GOOD it is being a dad
The biggest and best surprise, however, was just how GOOD it is being a Dad. My wife and I were very happy before having kids – careers, lots of travel, good friends & good times – but it just doesn’t begin to compare to what we have now.
When Kara was about nine months old, a childless friend overheard me saying “I’ve loved absolutely every second of being a Dad so far”. He scoffed and said, “Really? Every second, including all the broken sleep and disgusting nappies and no social life?”
Yep. Every second.
Because if I’m changing a nappy it means I’m with my baby girl, and I could never, ever go back to being without her.
Image Credits: In Bloom Photography.
(Yes! That is actually Chris’ wife and their newborn baby in the main image! Amazing yes?!)