I’m most of the way through my first week of being a dad and so I thought I’d share a few thoughts and I would love to hear from other new dads or even those who are more experienced. I’ll keep it short because as you can imagine I don’t have long before my daughter wakes up from her nap! I read this article yesterday about how fatherhood can change the male brain, it probably helps explain the weird week I’ve had.
Women are tough. My wife is a lot of things, but I would have never described her as tough, however, after watching her throughout her pregnancy and giving birth (which was pretty traumatic) I can now add that to the long list of virtues she exudes. Giving birth is hard and although its less common than at most times in history, women are still viewed as the weaker sex. Although women and men may differ in functions they are ontologically equal and are no less tough than men, what they go though during pregnancy and birth is enough to prove this point. Perhaps the toughness of women has only remained hidden from men for so long because they were so often absent from the birth?
Absent fathers are more cruel than I had ever imagined. My dad left my mum and me when I was 6 weeks old, I’d always thought about how hard that must of been on my mum who was still a teenager at the time. After the first few days of lifting, feeding, changing, burping, cuddling, crying, screaming, sicking, pooing, laughing, and sleeping (albeit not much on my side) it doesn’t appear to be getting much easier (yet). Thankfully me and my wife are blessed to have lots of family support and each other to rely on which has made it just about manageable but to have to do it on your own must be soul destroying (but still possible). It just really hit me this week how important spouses and the extended family are when it comes to raising a child. Dads who disappear are idiots, although I appreciate that these situations are seldom as simple as they may first appear and that in many cases the mother plays a significant part in the fracturing of the relationship, see here for some of the benefits a dad brings to a child’s life.
I worry all the time. When we’re in bed and my daughters in her Moses basket if she whimpers I jump up and check her immediately and if she’s quiet for too long I worry shes stopped breathing. Worrying is very stressful but I’m sure this experience isn’t unique to me. I’m hoping this gets better in the second week or I might go mad, I’ve even started sleeping the other way round on the bed so I can check her quicker. Working in a Children’s hospital has probably made it worse for me.
My heart has been melted. Before my daughter was born I rarely cried, in fact I have a list of reasons that justify crying and it’s very short (I call it my cry-teria) which I won’t go into right now. Crying has always made me feel uncomfortable, especially men who cry, I hate it but I have always been conscious that the problem was mostly mine and not the men who cry. However, since I looked into my little daughters eyes my heart of solid ice has been melted, I’ve cried more in the last 5 days than I have in the last 5 years, I’m just totally besotted and instantly in love with her, I would literally do anything for her. I seem to have now conquered my crying fear and I have my daughter to thank.
It’s really tiring. Lots of my work colleagues and friends had been warning me about how tired I would be, they were right, its a new sort of tired I’ve never experienced but thankfully I’ve got another week of paternity leave left.
I hate changing nappies. Don’t get me wrong, I do most of the nappy changing but if I’m honest I don’t like doing it because my daughter just screams and gets angry at me. It doesn’t help that I usually find her poo on my arm a few hours later.
I love cuddling my daughter. Cuddling my daughter is my new favorite thing to do, I could just look at her gorgeous little face for hours without getting bored. Pass the sick bag.
I love that my daughter recognizes my voice. I made a habit of talking to my daughter throughout my wife’s pregnancy, if I’m honest I found it a bit weird, I felt like I was just leaving a voice-mail message. But as soon as she was born and I started talking to her she would just look at me like she already knew me and my voice, it was very sweet.
It gives me the opportunity to demonstrate how much I love my wife. There is no doubt that this has been far harder on my wife than me but doing everything I can to make it easier for her is a great way to show her how much I love her. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I could always do more but witnessing how tiring it is feeding her but doing as much as I can no matter how tired I am is an immediate way to demonstrate how much I value my wife.
I’d love to hear what other dads would add to the list, tips and things they enjoyed during the first week.