12 Most Wide-Eyed Insights of a First Time Father
The journey into fatherhood, though quite justifiably in the shadow of the mother’s perspective, is an experience with many of the ups, downs, and eye opening moments that fill piles and piles of pregnancy books.
As a chap on the brink of the life-changing move to Dadville, I have been intrigued by the learning of the last eight months and felt moved to write these 12 most wide-eyed insights of that period:
1. It ain’t like on TV
We tend to base our initial, conscious understanding of many things, including childbirth, on what we learn by osmosis from the media. The reality is almost always different (*shock* Hollywood exaggerates?!) Example: One of our first discussions in early pregnancy was about how, as we don’t own a car, we would rush to the hospital when my wife went into labor. We now realize that there will be several hours or pre-labor, during which even walking to the hospital would be a possibility.
2. Roles can roll
From chatting to my Dad and reading around the subject, I understand now just how much the role of men has changed in only a generation or two. The father can now be pregnancy counselor, preparation partner, labor coach, and much more besides. It only takes a look at the recent Huggies brouhaha to see that we chaps are no longer sitting on the sidelines.
3. Outside in (utero)
I’ve been talking away to my wife’s belly, reading stories, and playing music for a good half of the pregnancy. Far from having lost my marbles, studies from the likes of Johns Hopkins University show that baby can hear and reacts to such interaction from 18 weeks onwards. Even if the benefits are unproven, if this attunes baby to your voice and makes you feel closer to your child, it must be worth a go, right? Plus, it’s FUN!
Depending on whom you talk to, perspectives on your impending fatherhood will range from you’re being extremely blessed and about to experience the best part of your life, to believing that your existence as your own person has been torpedoed… man down! You’ll have your own sense of how fatherhood will change your life, of course, but it’s amusing to take in the assumptions of others on its impact.
Nine months doesn’t sound like all that much time to prepare for a brand new human, yet somehow it feels like an age. In that time, as your baby moves quickly through the various growth stages, the parents are busy making mental transitions. How do I personally need to change? What preparations, both practically and educationally, do I need to make? It turns out nine little months give you a lot of time to ponder and prepare.
As kiddo will be half European — well British, so as European as the government of his generation permits — I have a significant interest in introducing him to a second (and perhaps a third) language early on. Not only are young children more able to take on multiple languages, but research shows that they actually show no confusion in distinguishing between them. A child’s brain is quite the little miracle.
7. Intimacy grows
“Well, duh!”, I hear you chorus. Obviously having a child brings a couple closer together. It’s the richness of privacy in the individual moments that really blew me away though. Little things like laying together and feeling baby’s tiny movements, or catching each other checking out the behavior of other parents at the same time, are unique to this particular life event and should be deeply cherished.
8. Happy healthcare
For once, regular trips to the hospital become a rather enjoyable affair. You often get to see your little one, there’s always something new to discuss, and the healthcare professionals are amongst the happiest you’ll ever come across. After all, they mostly deal with bringing life into the world, not watching it fade out.
9. The many faces of labor
Turns out labor has four separate stages, the first of which allows for the mother to take casual walks and other light exercise without much worry. Again, those familiar, crazy rush hour charges to the hospital are the exception, not the rule.
10. You can’t read too much
There is indeed such a thing as information overload, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as reading too much around a subject. As long as your mind remains focused on the long term objective — a healthy, happy baby — you can learn, adopt what you need, and discard what you don’t. Forewarned is forearmed!
11. Real but not reality
We only have a little time to go now, yet it’s hard to imagine that this untroubled little (okay, really quite big at this point) bump will soon be a tiny person who is wholly reliant on us for everything. Sleepless nights, constant worry, and a life revolving around entirely different priorities all seem still a world away, even though my brain recognizes that it will be reality in no time.
12. Babies brew their own
Okay, it’s a childish and puerile reaction to a perfectly reasonable biological process, but babies drink the very same fluid in which they swim and pass water… let me outta here!!
I’m excited to write the follow up to this piece, assuming of course that I can master typing and baby-holding at the same time.
Are you an anticipating Dad with insights to share?
Or perhaps a veteran of the baby days with valuable experience to impart to us noobs?
Either way, I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!
Featured image courtesy of meginatl via Creative Commons.