Childbirth is painful, but have you ever been kicked in the nuts?

This penultimate #fathersdaymonth post comes from Stuart at @mvd_stuart. For those of you who dont know, he is one half of the dynamic duo that make up www.mummyvsdaddy.com

With his wife @mvd_sarah they run a brilliant and innovative blog that provides a space for the often contradictory (and sometimes agreeable) mix of opinions between a mother and father which make up the rich tapestry of parenthood. 

If you need any more convincing, they were also BiBs finalists this year. Go check their blog site out and follow them on Twitter.

I particularly like this #fathersdaymonth post because it is utterly tragic and brutally honest. And yet somehow, Stuart manages to work a thread of mischievous humour throughout. For this alone it’s a brilliant post. 

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Before meeting my wife Sarah, I had never imagined that some day I would become a father. I was a lazy, childish and slightly mental teenager who at the time found kids nothing more than irritating.

Having children of my own was ‘never’ on my life’s agenda and for me nobody was going to change that. But apparently things do change.

I was 23 years old when I learned that I was to be a Daddy for the first time. Despite my reservations from years gone by, I was ready to step-up for what was to be my little girl – but other plans were made for her.

My first experience of a hospital delivery suite was the 13 hours 50 minutes delivery of my daughter, with my wife and I knowing we would be leaving the hospital empty handed.

On April 24th 2006 my first child Ryleigh Jayne was born sleeping, and to my shame on that day I made the horrendous choice to not look, and to not hold my daughter before she was taken from my life forever.

To this day I consider myself a bad father because of my decision that day. I may try my best for the children I have with me now.

But the fact remains the first thing I ever did as a Father was turn my back on my daughter.

Of course I wanted to see and hold her, but I did not have the courage or strength to do it. I will forever be disgusted with myself.

Ryleigh was delivered at 4 months gestation, after being given just a 5% chance of reaching full-term but then a 0% chance of survival at birth. Before our daughter began suffering we had to do what was right for her, as heart-breaking as it was and will forever be.

Ryleigh had Cystic Hygroma with Fetal Hydrops, and Turners Syndrome.

She will of course always be my first child.

Needless to say the issues we had with Ryleigh made the next pregnancy with our daughter Rhianna all the more stressful. Both me and my wife were always worrying that something may again go wrong. Instead of looking forward to every ultrasound scan, we feared them, as it was an ultrasound which first revealed Ryleigh’s problems.

In the latter stages of the pregnancy with Rhianna she was measuring quite small, which added to our fear that perhaps something wasn’t right – but thankfully our fears were without foundation.

First impressions of the delivery suite this time around were completely different. This time I didn’t arrive knowing I would be leaving again without my child, although at the back of my mind, a little fear of that remained. I was after all yet to be a Dad physically, so this was still all new to me.

I did my best to stay positive as it goes without saying Sarah had so much more to worry about. Yet I proved to be pretty useless to her.

It turns out that my usual cool, calm and collected nature didn’t apply within the walls of a hospital. The experience of child birth took me by surprise to say the least.

I’m not sure what I was expecting. As a man, by far the most common comment I see and hear about child birth is how lucky men are, and that I as a man could never imagine (or stand) the pain of giving birth. Of course the comments always come from women.

To those women my response is have you ever stopped for a second to imagine just how much more painful it would be for a man to give birth? Excuse my phrasing, but our holes are tighter than yours, so of course we consider ourselves lucky that giving birth isn’t our role. But rest assured we appreciate what you go through.

I must admit that I myself have in the past asked women if they know what a proper, full on kick in the nuts feels like and placed it arguably up there alongside child birth on the top shelf of painful experiences.

Although I have always said it in jest, but with a straight, dead-pan face giving the impression that i’m being serious. Just for my own entertainment, it never fails to get a reaction.

In reality the pain women bear during child birth is incredible without a doubt, and as the very proud Father of four (plus my angel Ryleigh) my wife has shown her strength time and time again, not that I have ever doubted her.

For the want of a better description she has seemingly breezed through each delivery and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

As for me though, and my role as her “birthing partner” I have been pretty useless and overwhelmed every single time which surprises me.

I am and have always been a super relaxed man, I take everything in my stride but upon arriving at the delivery suite I fall into a corner and have become almost invisible until it’s time to cut the cord. But I have always been there and at her beckoned call if ever she has needed or wanted me. So I did my bit, albeit a very small bit.

Do I feel I should have done more during the birth of my children? Most definitely.

Do I feel like my wife needed me? Honestly, no.

Because when she needed to be the one to take things in her stride she went head to head with that pain threshold and won comfortably

Although perhaps comfortably is the wrong word!

The whole experience of child birth from a Dad’s perspective was for me far less traumatising than I expected, but far more overwhelming if that makes any sense at all.

Before you become a Dad for the first time all you know is what you hear, or what you have been told by friends or family members who have children. And if the people you know are anything like my lot they will say just about anything to try to put you on edge.

If you are an expectant Dad I would advise against you reading any baby books or asking people what it’s like because there is no routine for child birth.

Your experience of it will be unique to you, so do whatever you can to enjoy and make the most of it because once that baby comes squeezing out (or sliding, depending on the size and shape of your partner) that’s it.

But you can forget about silence, and forget about doing things your way ever again!

Inside the delivery suite you will see your partner in a whole new way, however long you’ve known her. She will not only abuse you physically, but verbally too.

She will at times give the impression that you’re needed, but as soon as you step within reach she will be clawing at your arm like a f****d off raccoon. You will also hear all kinds of new sounds. Just pretend it’s aliens, it’s less scary that way.

And as for the smells… sorry ladies, there are new smells in there too – ask your partner and the look on his face will tell you that he wants to say yes, but is terrified of doing so.

Finally, I want to remind the dads out there that the delivery suite represents your last chance to prepare your partner for Motherhood. She may find these following things irritating at the time – but it’s for the best.

Firstly, do not be afraid to poop yourself and scream for some clean pants.

Secondly, if you feel a bit sick be sure to get some in her hair – she needs to learn to cope with this.

Lastly but not least, if you fancy a cuppa, and the midwife is refusing to make it because she’s delivering your baby, you are well within your rights to throw a tantrum.

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Saliva, snot and tears; one man’s reflection on childbirth

This is the fifth guest post in the #fathersdaymonth series. This comes from a great dad blogger called The_iDad. According to his Twitter profile he is “…dad to a crazed toddler and another in production“. Go check him out on Twitter @The_iDad and you can find his great blog here www.idads.co.uk

This is a lovely post that reflects on the need for adaptability in fatherhood (and in parenting in general) and demonstrates clearly that being prepared for childbirth is good, but that you also have to be prepared for the eventuality that sometimes EVERYTHING can change……

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During the 40 weeks of pregnancy you have quite a while to mentally prepare for what life will be like when your baby arrives. A lot of that time maybe spent wrestling with flat pack nursery furniture, debating over nursery colour swatches or purchasing ridiculously overpriced novelty clothing.

Throughout the prolonged countdown I found myself spending more time contemplating life after birth than birth itself. My thoughts of labour constantly flip flopped between sheer joy and excitement, to utter panic and terror.

Could I be the man that my Wife needed me to be during the birth?

As I write this I realise how pathetic that may sound as I appreciate I am a mere passenger to the birth experience rather than the one actually having to give birth.

I hate to compare the role of the birth partner to that of a back seat driver but the catalyst that fuels the vocal reaction of the panicked passenger is that of lack of control.

I feel as though my fears of labour were stemmed through the feeling of being out of control. Whether or not the birth experience would be good or bad for my Wife seemed as though it had little to do with me. The speed of which I could mop my Wife’s brow or fetch hot towels seemed irrelevant to what my Wife would be going through.

As naive as that sounds I had never been around birth before or even babies so my understanding of it all was slightly out of date.

Having acknowledged my fear and prehistoric knowledge I embraced the opportunity to learn the way of the force and be the best birth partner a man could be.

As an open minded, hip hop, modern era kind of couple we jumped at the opportunity to sign up to 6 weeks of hypno-birthing classes. The experience was great and after the course we both felt empowered to go and pop the baby out with minimal fuss. After all, a pre-planned cocktail of relaxed breathing and a bucketful of oxytocin meant the baby would simply just slide out. Right?!

Wrong!

Yes, with my new found skills I could identify the optimum volume for the hypno music, light several calming candles with the precision of a pyromaniac and produce a knee wobblingly good foot rub; but what if something went wrong during labour? I would be unprepared.

And unfortunately in reality I was.

I found the ethos of hypno-birthing to be incredible and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

But when you find yourself in the stark reality of an emotionally charged emergency c-section situation, deep breathing isn’t enough.

The catchy tune of Elton John’s Rocket Man was still ringing in my ears as my pupils sharply adjusted from the dim sensual lighting to the piercing glare of the surgery room.

As I frantically tried to find the arm hole of an inappropriately ladies size 8 scrubs top that I had been thrown, my concentration was abruptly cut short by the sight of my Wife’s spontaneous projectile vomit coming towards my face.

My knuckles were whiter than my face as I clung on in confusion to my distressed Wife. My fear of being out of control was at its peak and my knee jerk reaction to regain it was coming across as desperate and weak.

It was time to put our trust in someone else and hope for the best.

Well the best couldn’t have been much better, the sight and sound of our newborn son was embarrassingly overwhelming.

Soon after cleaning our newborn son off, the staff were doing it again. But this time it was me they were cleaning as a combination of saliva, tears and snot congealed together to create an alien like emotional eruption that Mount Etna would have been proud of.

The best laid plans may have gone out of the window but the end result was the same.

I am now two and half years into being a Father and the feeling of not being in control still niggles away each time we reach an obstacle for the first time.

It may never go away but I know with each new experience I will learn from it and aim to be better for the next time.

I am thankful to say that I will have a next time as my Wife is 25 weeks pregnant with our second son.

How will I be different during birth this time? I don’t know is the truthful answer.

But I do know that I will be more aware of the various scenarios that can play out and I will support my Wife in every way I can.

 

 

One born every minute

It is actual Fathers Day! And this is the fourth in the series of #fathersdaymonth guest posts. This one is a second post from @dadvsthekids. You can read more from him on his new blog http://www.dadvsthekids.com

It’s a post about childbirth. And I particularly like this post because it is funny. Really funny. But also that there is a great central message here. Kids dont play by the rules. Neither should you. Stick your hands out and get them dirty.

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Hi. I’d like my coat dry-cleaned please. That stain? Yeah, it’s just my wife’s blood. Do you reckon you can you get that all out?”

Okay. Let me back up a bit.

THE KID IS IN MY HANDS WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?!?!?”

Okay. Maybe I need to go back a little bit more. Because if you’re bringing a child into this world, you need to be prepared. But not prepared in the way you think you know right now.

This is the birth of our second child. I got this. I read all the magazines. I diligently attended all the birthing classes. I even managed to get in good with one of the staff on the maternity ward (ok, it was my mother-in-law) and secured a serene, private hospital room to welcome our latest ‘miracle of life’ into the world with the aid of the finest drugs the NHS has to offer. NAILED IT.

From the Dad’s point of view, as long as you’ve picked up the TENS machine, remembered the overnight bag, your ONLY job in the delivery room is to hold your wife’s hand, offering appropriate, positive commendation whilst resisting the temptation to take a hit of the gas and air whilst the midwife’s back is turned.

We’d been through this already with child no.1 – I knew the drill. I knew my place. So when the contractions started that summer afternoon in 2006, it was like the Rocky theme tune was playing in my head all over again. All those months of training has led to this.

 Mrs DvK calls her parents and we arrange to drop off our firstborn. Because who wants to traumatise a 2yr old child with shrieking contractions and profanities, right?

“Yep,” she breathes into her phone through the mild contractions. “We’ll drop him off to you Mum, and then we’ll go home and collect my stuff before meeting you at the hospital. The contractions aren’t too bad, so we should have plenty of time.” I make a mental note to pack myself extra magazines and maybe a Mars Bar.

An hour later, we’re back at home. Mrs DvK is on the sofa, wrapped up in the TENS machine, timing the contractions whilst I make the last few phone calls to friends and family.

Informing the maternity ward of our imminent arrival, I try my best to sound confident and jovial. Don’t be fooled – judging the window between “should we go in now” and “I can’t believe that moody cow sent us back home” is another rite of passage for all paranoid new parents. If you don’t sound convinced, then they won’t be.

“Did you call the midwife?”

“Yes hun”

“Did you put my slippers in the bag?”

“Yep.”

“Have you put the car seat in?”

“It’s done.”

“Did you pack the baby vests?”

“Yes….”

“The green ones and the white ones?”

“YES.”

Apparently no one cares if I packed my Mars Bars, but whatever. I take charge of the conversation. “Right, I’ll get everything in the car.” I slip my hands into my coat, help Mrs DvK up from the sofa and march ahead for the front door. “Let’s go!”

The first scream of pain hits me with brute force. I’m not supposed to hear that until we’re in the delivery room am I?

I turn around and for the first time, I see paralysing fear in my wife’s eyes. By the Power of Greyskull: THE LITTLE GIT IS COMING NOW.

NINE. NINE. NINE.

“I can’t move! I can’t move! I have to push!” she screams. The sheer ferocity of the contraction is too much and Mrs DvK, in a hysterical panic starts to remove her clothes.

“NOOO! Not in the living room on the carpet!” My cry falls on deaf ears. But Mother Nature has taken over and gravity is the first to say hello. With one push, her waters break, spilling out onto the floor.

Imagine what you’ve seen in light-hearted romantic comedies and hilarious TV sit-coms.  But without the canned laughter. Nobody is laughing now. It’s EVERYWHERE.

“WIFE IN LABOUR! BABY COMING! SEND AMBULANCE!” My adrenalin fuelled stuttering to the 999 operator reveals I am way in over my head. This is uncharted territory.

My wife and I are alone, with no medical professional, no drugs, and no way out. There isn’t an app for this. Mrs DvK is about to endure childbirth cave-man style, and I didn’t even get to start thumbing through my fresh copy of GQ. Typical.

Despite all the odds, she’s still on her feet. Everything is a blur. The second push is more dramatic than the first.

And then it happens.

I can see my son’s head.

My stupid brain frantically tries to recall anything from the birthing lessons that can help in this situation. Nope.

One thing I can guarantee, new Dads: Time will slow down when you see your child for the first time. I don’t remember the exact moment I dropped the phone and extended my hands to catch my son. That primal need to protect him at all costs is something that you can never fully put into words. This tiny child is fighting for survival from his first breath and he’s relying on you to step up.

The umbilical cord is still wrapped around his neck. But he’s crying. That’s a good thing right? “Yes, yes that’s a good thing you idiot”, I think to myself, “that means he’s breathing.” Unwrap the cord dammit, unwrap the cord.

Mrs DvK finally crumples to the floor in a shock, tired heap. I remember I’m still on the phone to the 999 operator. “THE KID IS IN MY HANDS WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?!?!?”

“Get blankets. Keep them comfortable. Another midwife and an ambulance are on their way sir.” The reassuring tone of the disembodied voice make me think this is definitely a more regular occurrence than I’ve been led to believe. Did she just call me Sir?

Your child will shock and surprise you from the second they are born. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they’ll blindside you with an emotional uppercut and you’ll be left wondering why you weren’t prepared and begin to doubt your ability to keep another human being alive.

To those who have such trepidation, I say USE that. Use that fear to fuel that primal maternal/paternal bond, not shy away from it.

The books and the classes and the well-meaning (but sometimes conflicting) advice from family and friends have their place.

But you’ll be surprised what you’re prepared to do for your child when you use them as the measuring rod of your success as a parent, not the photo-shopped magazine version we all find ourselves aspiring to.

If catching my son mid-delivery taught me anything, it’s that kids don’t play by the rules. And neither should you. Stick your hands out and get them dirty.

The real professionals arrive less than 10 minutes after the delivery and do their thing.

Actually, one of the ambulance paramedics, built like brick house, and who’s probably seen more than his fair share of multiple car pile-ups, confesses he is squeamish at the sight of women giving birth. Outstanding.

He offers to make himself useful by putting the kettle on and making the bed. 

Mother and baby are eventually given the all clear by the midwife and within an hour they’ve gone, and our new son is already asleep.

Aside from the stream of text messaging well-wishers, the eerie quiet is a stark and bemusing contrast to the heart-stopping moments that preceded it.

I look at my blood-covered watch. It’s nearly 8:30pm.

“Fancy catching the last few minutes of Eastenders?”

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This was originally a guest post for @ministryofmum. Go check out her superb blog at www.ministryofmum.blogspot.co.uk

 

Childbirth – a superhero movie with an 18 certificate

This is the second post in the #fathersdaymonth series from a fine gentleman called Tom Briggs. I love this post because it rightly positions the woman in labour as a superhero, but describes how the man can also feel like he has taken on heightened senses and awareness during the process. Check out Tom on Twitter @tombriggs79 and go check out his website www.diaryofthedad.co.uk 

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"...it was only when I was trudging down an empty road like the main protagonist at the start of 28 Days Later that it struck me that I was a dad....."

“…it was only when I was trudging down an empty road like the main protagonist at the start of 28 Days Later that it struck me that I was a dad…..”

If you believe what you see in films and television – which, unless you’re watching something like One Born Every Minute, probably isn’t the best way of preparing for a life-changing arrival in the first place – you’re in for a bit of a surprise when your first child is born.

These productions would have you believe that the mum-to-be has to push for about 20 seconds – barely breaking a sweat – before their bundle of joy emerges gracefully to the sound of uplifting music.

This is normally preceded by a comic dash to the hospital during which the feckless expectant dad demonstrates a ‘hilarious’ level of incompetence while trying to juggle driving, joining in with breathing exercises and panicking.

Now I can only go from my own experience here – so I’m sorry to anyone who has had a Hollywood-style birth and also to any hopeless but nonetheless loveable dads who may exist and be reading this – but it’s not quite like that.

For their part, my boys both arrived in an unceremonious fashion and the whole experience on each occasion was surreal to say the least.

Dylan faceplanted his way into the world following an agonising three-day labour, while Xander showed up a lot more abruptly and with such force that he saved me the trouble of cutting the cord. They know how to make an entrance, those two.

So, anyway, here are my perceptions on childbirth…

It’s going to be different for everyone, but it’s fair to say that the process – or at least the business end of it, let’s say – is a tad gory.

This isn’t something that bothered me at all; I think I’m so jaded by the borderline unhealthy number of visceral horror films I have in my DVD collection and, I suppose, considering the fact that the midwife didn’t look alarmed by it, that I was surprisingly quite detached from it all.

That’s not to say I was absent in any way; I remember every minute of both births.

I recall reminding my wife, Kate, that every push was bringing us closer to meeting our sons and telling her how well she was doing and she insists that I was very supportive. It’s just that I seemed to be a completely different me.

Normally, I can be relied upon to lose it over little things. In the delivery room, however, I suddenly adopted a zen-like demeanour and put the emotions firmly to one side until my sons were born. It was the same both times.

There’s no logical reason I should have been calm either; with both pregnancies we hadn’t had any useful antenatal classes.

With Dylan, there was a two-hour class during which the midwife spent most of the time talking about baby poo and its resemblance to a well-known yeast extract product.

Apart from confirming my theories about what’s in that divisive jar of spread, the session was a complete waste of time.

We weren’t taught anything about breathing exercises, when to call the hospital or anything.

We had also just moved home and our ‘old’ hospital had lost our records.Twice.

In fact, until I made a grovelling phone call to the hospital near where we had moved – during which I was told that my wife ‘probably wasn’t that far along’ and that we’d most likely be sent home again – it looked like we’d be having an unplanned homebirth. Yet I was horribly chilled out about it all.

Seeing Kate in pain was naturally distressing but I somehow knew everything was going to be okay. Even when Dylan came out with the cord around his neck, I could tell that he was going to be fine too.

I’m no medical expert, but I think I must have picked up on the lack of concerned body language from the professionals in the room.

It’s as if I temporarily had a heightened sense of awareness of everything in my vicinity. I’d be interested to find out if any other dads have had similar experiences – Spidey senses, if you will.

It was only once the boys had been born that it hit me. With Dylan, this was after I had basically been kicked out of the hospital when he and Kate were moved to the ward as he’d been born outside visiting hours.

I’d held him and spoken to him while Kate had a bath and done a bit of skin-to-skin bonding by giving him a shirt-free cuddle as soon as he was born, of course, but it was only when I was trudging down an empty road like the main protagonist at the start of 28 Days Later that it struck me that I was a dad.

Then the emotions hit me.

With Xander, I suppose I had the benefit of experience and allowed myself a happy tear or two as soon as he was safely in Kate’s arms.

So having intimated that there’s no such thing as a movie-style birth and then looking back at what I’ve written here, maybe I’m wrong. I seem to have unwittingly compared the process to a superhero film – albeit one with an 18 certificate.

An unusual way of looking at a happy ending, I grant you, but one I’m proud to call mine.

Fear and love; those immediate days after the birth

I described in a recent blog the epic journey that is the birthing process. And if labour is a first tentative step into a brave new world, those immediate days after the birth are a head first plunge into the bottomless pool of raw emotion, vulnerability and sheer exhaustion that is called fatherhood.

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To be honest I got through the first few days on a wave of euphoria, adrenaline and caffeine.

There was so much to contend with.

There were the forms and the hospital processes.

The bombardment of (often contradictory) information.

Then there were the vaccinations that made my daughter squeal in pain.

And the endless tests.

And you have to keep track of everything, because fantastic that they are, nurses and doctors are only human too.

And the random people with unsolicited advice, some of it often very unhelpful.

And there are the well meaning visitors who overstay their welcome.

The trips back and forwards to hospital.

The uncertainty.

The vulnerability.

The tiredness.

And the utter lack of a frame of reference for ANY of it.

In my professional life I am quite used to dealing with ambiguity and crisis. But somehow when I am standing in a village in the middle of a war zone I can externalise the stress.

The conflict is after all not mine. It is not my war. It is not me that will have to rebuild my home, my life and livelihood. I can help, and that is what I do to the best of my professional ability. But I don’t own the crisis.

But as a father having not slept for weeks, I find myself looking at a thermometer that is reading a high fever, holding a tiny screaming baby – MY tiny screaming baby. And it is in the dark hours before dawn, I’m shattered and not thinking properly and something isn’t right and the hospital is a long drive away and wait…….is that a rash on her skin?

 I soon learnt that as a father I was utterly responsible. This was my child. And THIS was now my crisis.

And I soon realised that she relies on me for EVERYTHING.

And there is no booklet. There is no guidance. However hard I wished in those first few weeks, no instruction manual appeared with my daughter’s name on the front.

Nothing to allay the fears. Nothing to allay the neurosis.

So I found myself doing something that human’s have been doing incredibly successfully for millennia: Adapting.

And surviving.

And there was something else there too.

Fear.

And I have seen fear before. Fear is the emotion that comes from being vulnerable, overwhelmed, ignorant and outflanked.

Fear is the emotion that comes from the dread of making a mistake where the stakes are literally life and death.

And I know that the only way to tackle fear is to understand that which frightens you.

So I read the leaflets and the books. I politely listened to opinions. I chose the ones that made sense to my baby and I, and disregarded the ones that didn’t.

I learnt to live on very little sleep.

I wished the visitors on their way. I thanked the family for their support.

I closed the doors, drew the curtains, took the phone off the hook.

And I spent the next few weeks literally lost in my baby; immersing myself in her. Holding her tightly, breathing in the sweetness of her skin, savouring the earthy fragrance of her hair and losing hours in the deep pools of her beautiful eyes.

Understanding her patterns and her rhythms

I sang to her to calm her, rocked her to sleep in the middle of the night, traced the lines on the folds of her skin and obsessed over her tiny fingernails. I held eye contact and lingered, unwilling to break the gaze lest the spell be broken.

I fell in love.

And I figured that if I was to be truly responsible then I would have to face my fear. Understanding the fear was my best weapon.

If there was no manual with my daughter’s name on it, then I would be the one to write it.

I became THE world expert on my daughter.

Those first few weeks are joyous. But they are also hard

I read a superb piece of wisdom on Twitter recently from one of the fathers that I follow. We were discussing how hard parenting and fatherhood is. He nailed it when he said

“…It doesn’t matter how many children you have. Wanting to be a good parent means you make it hard on yourself

And there it is.

If those crazy, chaotic early days taught me anything it was about facing down fear.

And they taught me that I can still surprise myself; that I can still learn and adapt.

And they taught me to trust MY instincts as a father to know what is best for MY daughter.

And they taught me that it feels hard because I want to be a GREAT father.

To this day I keep this statement in my mind. So on those days when the adrenaline runs out, the fatigue sets in and there appears to be no end in sight, I can let the statement out to shine a light into those darkest of corners.

And most importantly those early days taught me something else.

They reminded me of how utterly beautiful it is to feel those butterflies again, to experience that warm fuzzy disorientating feeling once more and to look into the face of another and see such beautiful perfection.

They reminded me what it is like to be giddy with life. To be overwhelmed with emotion.

To be hopelessly in love.

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This original post appeared first on the Daddy Cool Project website (http://www.daddycoolproject.org.uk/). I am currently blogging for them. The Daddy Cool Project (DCP) is a London-based voluntary organisation that aims to highlight the importance and positive impact of fathers and male-role models living and working in today’s society. Go check them out, they do some great work.

The day it all began (for me at least); a man’s view of childbirth

Unlike many fathers, I couldn’t connect with the growing baby in my wife’s stomach. It was only on the day that my daughter arrived that I actually began to feel like a father. And up until that point I thought that I had experienced most of what life could throw at me. How wrong I was. It was perhaps the strength of the emotional reaction to becoming a father that shocked me the most.

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Just over three years ago, I remember leaving to go on a six week, round-the-world business trip, about ten weeks before our due date.

Up until that point I had watched with fascination and joy at the changing shape of my wife, and the blooming of pregnancy as she turned from lady to woman in front of my eyes.

Unlike many fathers however I couldn’t connect with the baby growing in my wife’s womb. I didn’t sing to the bump, or read stories to it like many of my friends or peers.

However as I was leaving the house to go to the airport something compelled me to kneel down and take my wife’s stomach in my hands and say, half jokingly,

“Please don’t come out until you hear my voice again”.

I knew I was taking a risk going on a trip like this so near to the birth, but we figured the four week buffer zone was adequate.

How funny then, that the morning that I got back from the trip, totally and utterly exhausted, and was just making my way upstairs to bed, that my daughter should decide that THIS was the moment to announce her arrival on planet earth.

I remember it clearly. I was walking up the stairs. The doorbell went. It was my wife. She had come back from work. It was her last day before maternity leave. She made it as far as the office doors and her waters had broken.

And there she was, standing on the door mat looking slightly confused, a little scared, but glowing like nothing I have seen before.

The funniest thing about this moment was what she said. Here she was, standing on the cusp of the most deeply profound moment of her life, the transition from girl to woman, about to enter the exalted realm of motherhood and the first thing she said was

“My waters have broken. My boots are RUINED.”

That, right there, is why I fell in love with her all those years ago. Pragmatic, unflappable, utterly loveable, even in the face of adversity.

We made it to the hospital. It was technically a premature birth, my daughter was coming four weeks early. My wife was immediately wired up. Our birthing plan was rendered redundant.

It is hard to describe the emotion of watching child birth. It is a process like no other; nature’s nine month drum solo, reaching a glorious, crashing climax. I felt at once utterly petrified, but at the same time strangely calm and reassured, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

As the father I was out of control of the situation. My role was very much as support cast. I watched it unfold in front of me, offering reassuring words, helping ease the pain and discomfort, but ultimately folding in front of the power, grace and determination of my wife in her quest to provide life to another being.

She was amazing. Even towards the end, when the drum roll quickened to a frenzied crescendo and the room was filled with unfamiliar sounds, noises and smells. The rhythm had steadily built for nine months purely for this moment.

When she finally pushed my daughter out, she let out a scream of pain, relief and joy. My daughter slipped out, bruised purple, covered from head to toe in white vernix. For me, this was the most amazing moment in my life. A powerful cocktail of extreme jet lag, fatigue, relief and emotion rocked me like nothing before.

It was a heady blast of utter joy and relief, like the ultimate orgasm. I couldn’t stop my tears and frankly I didn’t want to, as these were the warm, tingling tears of joy. I relished every one.

The whole process had tapped into an emotional pool as old as life itself, a primal, animalistic response to the miracle of childbirth and the continued success of the species.

Being in the room for the birth was an utter privilege. I saw my wife control and master extreme pain, (without drugs). I saw my wife use every ounce of energy, strain every sinew to deliver a miracle. I saw my wife become a woman. This in itself was a beautiful thing. It created another profound connection between us, and raised the bar in our relationship.

And then there was that feeling. After the sound of the drums had faded away, and the rawness of the delivery had passed, we were on our own. Just the three of us.

We lay in a warm delivery suite, the lights faded low, the soothing sounds of the hospital faintly discernible around us and the feel-good endorphins surging around our bodies. Everything calm but heightened, like the night air after a crackling electrical storm.

And I was euphoric that my daughter had waited until I got back, before emerging into the world, because I wouldn’t have missed the birth for anything.

As I was holding my daughter close to my chest, she looked up at me, and held me with a look that only newborns can give. It was a look that went straight into my soul and took my breath away. It was a look of profound vulnerability and unconditional trust.

And it was then, right at that moment, that I felt the connection. A powerful and unconditional urge to protect, provide and nurture. An urge I had never felt before. Nature’s way of ensuring the species continues. And it was then that I knew I had taken on the most important responsibility of all.

I had become a father.

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This original post appeared first on the Daddy Cool Project website (http://www.daddycoolproject.org.uk/). I am currently blogging for them. The Daddy Cool Project (DCP) is a London-based voluntary organisation that aims to highlight the importance and positive impact of fathers and male-role models living and working in today’s society. Go check them out.