Dads Share Their Secret Fears About Becoming Parents
“Mate, this will be the best day of your life”.
When it comes to giving birth and rearing rug rats, it’s usually mothers who are in the spotlight – we interviewed a few here. We also asked five new dads how they felt when their children came into the world and what it was like to become a parent for the first time. Did they faint/cry/balk/vomit/flee/fall instantly in love? Or all of the above?
Rob, British: father to three-month-old girl
“Mate, this will be the best day of your life”.
Heading to the hospital for my wife’s induction, my friend had set my expectations high. What was to follow for my wife was more than 24-hours of pain, exhaustion, worry and confusion. And we had a labour that would probably be described as having gone well. I take my hat off to any woman who has given birth, whatever the individual circumstances. However, it’s far from an easy experience for the partner. Here are a few things I learnt:
1. It’s okay to admit you also found the labour hard, but perhaps don’t say this to your partner who has just given birth. Seeing my wife in so much pain, then brutally cut and torn apart was horrific. This isn’t easy to deal with, even when things go well.
2. In some hospitals, they prioritise care for the baby over the mother. The doctors ensured my wife was medically safe, but they did nothing with the sole intention of making her happy; this was my job.
3. Look after yourself too. To be the best support possible keep your own energy levels stable – nap when you can and don’t forget to eat and have coffee whenever possible too.
Benjamin, French: father to eight-week-old boy
When I told people we were expecting a baby, loads of guys responded with a knowing laugh, before saying “you won’t have a life after this, this is the end”. They told me to say goodbye to my passions and hobbies, such as triathlon and running.
Our little boy, Oscar, is eight-weeks old and I have been surprised to find those warnings were 100 per cent unwarranted. Life has definitely changed, but it’s a positive adjustment. Yes, we are tired and having a newborn is hard work, but with team work and planning we make sure we are still able to do the things we love and spend lots of time with Oscar. I’m still managing to carve out time to train for a long-distance race. It’s a great experience to run 30k on a Saturday morning and return home to enjoy the day together with my family.
Anon, British: father to a baby girl
My wife’s labour was more stressful and tiring than I was anticipating and the set up at the hospital afterwards meant I was completely sleep deprived. My emotions were all over the shop and found myself unexpectedly crying. Unlike my wife, I was in love with my baby girl from the moment I saw her, I think maybe it was due to the fear of losing her (there were a couple of scary moments during the labour).
My emotions were all over the shop and found myself unexpectedly crying.
Callan, Australian: father to two-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy
From a young age I never envisaged myself having children. It was something I didn’t really think about much and the concept was quite foreign to me. My focus in life was my career, my social life, and playing sport. Let’s just say I was quite self-involved (as most young people tend to be).
I have since been blessed with two children, a boy and a girl. My world as I knew it was turned on its head and I was out of my depth!
The feelings I encountered when I held my children for the first time are indescribable. Unlike a woman whose life changes when she becomes pregnant, the man often continues to sail through life oblivious to what’s happening around them. That is until that moment when their baby arrives and let me tell you, it hits you like a freight train. It is real, it is deep, and it is raw. The sense of responsibility is all encompassing. It dawns on you that in those formative years, you are totally responsible for their happiness and wellbeing. What an honour and privilege!
It is real, it is deep, and it is raw. The sense of responsibility is all encompassing.
I was brought up in a traditional patriarchal environment whereby the man went to work and the woman stayed at home and did the majority of the child rearing, sacrificing any scope for a career. Having my daughter, in particular, has challenged this notion for me as the opportunities women have today are greatly improved. One of the biggest gifts we can give our daughters (and sons) is to encourage them to be independent and have the freedom to choose their role not only in society but the family unit.
It is true what they say that the love you feel for your children is different to the love you feel for your friends, family, and spouse. Becoming a father has challenged me and continues to challenge me on a daily basis. It has, at times, pushed me to my limits but I am eternally grateful for this journey of self-discovery. It is more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done before. It is hard work, but good things don’t come easy. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Daniel, Australian: father to 10-month-old boy
I felt a lot of excitement and a lot of fear about becoming a parent because we were bringing a life into the world. When your baby first arrives you feel a bit inadequate as a parent because you don’t know anything. You can get all the advice but it’s not until you experience it for yourself that you really understand what it’s like.
The labour was scary. There were complications and my girlfriend had to go into an operating theatre. When the baby came out the doctors were a little concerned because he came out the wrong way and they had to put him straight onto oxygen. It was really exciting but I was also thinking, “shit, is he ok?”. I cut the cord. Then I was asked to hold the baby and everyone said how big and cute he was. His little eyes were closed and he was crying and I thought: “oh, don’t cry little baby you’re going to be alright”.
I don’t know if I felt anything. It didn’t feel real.
I don’t know if I felt anything. It didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like my partner was there on the table. It had been such a long day and I was so grateful he was out, he was safe, he was responding to all the signs and he hadn’t been hurt on the way out. I took lots of photos and videos.
The love thing was later. When he first came out I wanted to tell him about the world and tell him not to cry and say: “me and your mum, we’re going to look after you”. I guess that is love. But the lovey-dovey thing I felt when my girlfriend got back to the room and I saw her holding him. Before then it was just: I need to protect him and make sure he’s alright”.
Have you and/or your partner had similar experiences or was yours completely different? We would love to hear your story in the comments below.
You might also like How Women Really Feel When They Become Parents.