What I have learned in the first few months of being a father

Now, writing this blog, our daughter is almost 12 weeks old. What a journey it has been. I am going to try and use this time to express as honestly as I can what it’s like to be a father in the first few months. It’s genuinely hard to put into words. It challenges you in all areas; your patience, your relationships, your sleep, your work, literally everything. But wow it is the most magical time I have ever had in my life. You try to love something more and more every single day and in different ways, every single look they give you, every movement, every noise.

I almost missed the birth of my daughter. A few days before she was born, I woke up with every covid symptom, except having a temperature. My very pregnant wife had to drive me to the covid testing unit at the royal women’s hospital and waited while I got tested. Little did we know that she could be going into labor 2 days later, 8 days earlier than expected for her scheduled cesarean. I remember it was midnight and my wife woke up, saying her water had broken. “whaaaat, no chance”, I said. I called the hospital and they said to come in, so we did. I wasn’t allowed in, as I hadn’t yet received my results from my covid test yet. To hear the words, “your wife is having the baby in the next hour, but you will have to go home I’m so sorry” was one of the most confusing things in my life. There I was waiting in the car outside the Mater hospital for over an hour and a half, and my wife inside at 2 am in the morning, going into labor with 4-minute contractions, and I got sent home. I was literally pulling into our apartment block when the hospital called me saying they had called the Royal to get my results and they were negative and to come back. I drove extremely cautiously at 2:30 am back to the Mater, to then suit up to go into the delivery room to birth our first child with my wife. Given how little dads are needed at the start, in retrospect, it may not matter to some, but once I was in there going through it with my wife, there is no way I could have missed this!

The journey of being a father began here. I walk into the room with my scrubs to be acquainted with 12 random amazing and well, incredibly lively and enthusiastic staff who I had never met before, including the obstetrician. Ours was away on holiday, and her backup wasn’t answering his phone. We were just incredibly grateful that someone was around to deliver our child, and what an amazing and well, quite fast procedure it was. From 4 minute contractions to a needle in the spine, to delivery, and then breastfeeding all within the span of 45 minutes. I remember them passing our daughter over the blue curtains and shouting “it's a boy”, to everyone laughing confusingly and as nice as they could say, hmmm no it's a girl.

During the time we spent in the hospital, which ended up being 9 days due to an eye infection and mild respiratory issues, the hospital and their service were just incredible. They are there to attend to the mothers and child's every wish and need. Initially, I felt a bit lost in it all and, well neglected isn’t the right word, but it was all about Mum and baby. I was fine with this, to be honest, but it’s hard not to think about it, well what about Dad? What about what he has, is, and will go through. At the Mater, they actually provided Men’s groups every Tuesday and Thursday, where any new father could attend to learn and discuss what it’s like to be a father, and how can we support Mum better. This was incredibly helpful for all the dads. We could all get together and chat about what just happened and how we can be the best husbands, fathers for our family. I was the only one who actually brought my child with me to the meeting but thankfully she slept the whole time. We all hoped and wished this is what it’s going to be like for the future. We all soon learned that was not the case. After this meeting, I thought it would be a great idea to grab the other father's contact details and we have been sharing our experiences since and are due to catch up soon with our children to chat about fatherhood and things we have learned and can share. I think this is incredible for all new fathers to really take the time to do and/or to find, if it’s not offered at the hospital you are at. Men need to be able to express their emotions and thoughts openly to people who are going through the same things, as a new father, in a group where you can trust others and be honest.

Overall, the last few months have been hard to put into words. Every day seems to mold into the next, but while trying to savor every single moment. Doing all of this while pursuing your career, side hustles, exercise, relationships, hobbies, etc. I guess every day we learn more and more about how to balance it all better, and that is the fun I guess while passing on what we learn to our children in the most authentic and genuine way possible. We all have fears about how we are raising our children and whether it’s the best or “proper” way. But in the end, we are all doing our best, with what we have and are doing through. Every day is going to be different and new challenges are going to come up, but take a breath and trust that you are doing an amazing job. If you are experiencing anything, express it, whether it’s to your wife/partner or anyone around you. I have found journaling has been a great avenue for getting my thoughts out and just spending time with myself for the few moments a day I get. We have all had challenges over the last year or so with covid. We need to remain honest with ourselves and continue to just express ourselves and to try and live every day as present as we can and know that everything will be fine.

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