I’m not going to share everything, because it was difficult, scary and I feel a lot of it is personal and should stay with my wife and I, but I’d like to share a little bit about what it was like when my now toddler first came into the world.
I was very excited for my son to join us! In fact so much so that I may have (definitely) annoyed my wife with my requests to go for multiple walks and my “encouraging” words to the child inside my wife’s tummy to come out. The due date came and went and my anxiety to meet my boy grew. Finally, a week and a half later, our doctor said that it was time to get things started due to the length past the due date and the lowering level of amniotic fluid in the womb…it was go time!
Now my wife and I were on the same page about doing most everything naturally and trying to keep the process as natural as possible…however, to get things started the doctor said we needed to induce. We thought about it and agreed to it given where we were in the process. We went through the birthing classes at our hospital and so had a good idea of our plan was and what we absolutely didn’t want to do. Starting out with inducing wasn’t our first choice but seemed like the right decision given the circumstances…little did we know that from there it would just continue to be choice after choice and decision after decision of the things we said we preferred not to do, but needed to do in the best interest of mother and son.
I should mention that our nurses and doctors were fantastic, they were very encouraging and supportive and presented us with their opinion and our options the entire time. They gave us plenty of time to think and decide and were just so on top of things the whole way. This made making those tough decisions much easier, even though it wasn’t originally what we had in mind. I trust our Doctor completely and that’s why we’re going back to him for number 2.
After numerous hours of labor, stressing and worrying about my wife and the baby, my emotions began to get the best of me. I even had feelings of frustration toward this unborn child who in all reality was having just as hard a time leaving the womb as we were trying coax him out of it. It was exhausting, draining and confusing. One thing was incredibly clear though…I will always be awed at the true strength and courage displayed by my wife during this whole thing…moms giving birth are the true heroes!
After a very long process of labor and more stressful decision-making, my son arrives! He’s healthy and big and mom is healthy but going to need time to recover. I expected to have this overwhelming joy and happiness, maybe shed a few tears and get that feeling you think everyone has when they meet their baby. But what I really felt was an intense mixture of relief, fear, worry, some joy, and frustration. Part of my frustration was at the process and how draining it was and how concerned for my wife I was..part of it was because I expected to feel more and to have that overwhelming joy and connection with my new child. What was wrong with me?
As I found out…nothing was wrong with me, and my frustrations and concerns were just valid reactions to an incredibly stressful moment. We can often build up moments in our lives so much that if the moment doesn’t live up to exactly what we think it should be we’re disappointed, we wonder if there’s something wrong. I was prepared in the birthing class that this may be the case, I may not feel exactly how I want to or think I should feel and that it’s totally normal. As my sanity returned and I remembered this I felt better, and over the next few days in the hospital I felt “that moment” of bonding, of wonder and joy and love over multiple moments holding my son, looking into his eyes, using my pinky as a pacifier and holding him skin to skin. Those collective moments made me fall in love with my son, and greatly surpassed even my most idyllic thoughts of what that first moment would be. And ever since my love for my son and joy for being his father has grown. For me it wasn’t about “the moment” I met him…it was each moment and look into his eyes after.
This is fatherhood…