Occasionally I do get asked how it was for me becoming a dad. How birth was for me, what has changed, how has my daily routine changed and whatnot.
While that is very different for each person, I can not give an general answer on how it will be for everyone but what I can do is tell you how it was for myself.
The moment I was told by my wife that she is pregnant, I was very surprised. Pleasantly surprised tho as we were kind of planning on that at that time. Well, we planned for it at first, did not work out and the moment we decided “well ok, maye let’s wait”, that was when it worked out. The most common question I got asked during the pregnancy was “Is it a boy or a girl?”. We wanted to be surprised and not know the gender until birth, so we told the doctors not to tell us. But that was often not enough of an info for the person asking, so what followed up almost every time was “What do you hope it to be? Boy or girl?” to which I always answered “I hope for it to be healthy! Could not care less about the gender as long as it is being born well and healthy.”
The whole time between that and the actual day of birth, all my thoughts were just focused on that little thing that was growing in my wife, I was shaken around between “can’t wait to hold my child in my arms the first time” and “oh god, what if I am a total failure as a parent?”, I mostly feared that I will make mistakes aswell as that it will not be born healthy. What if it does not like me? What if it has a severe impairment to health? I will love it nevertheless, still what will we do then?
The whole birth was absolutely the most intense moment in my entire life so far. I sat there with my wife, who was in heavy pain, doing everything possible to help her in any way, which in the end was hardly more than just holding her hands and just being there for her. Made me feel quite helpless afterall, because I wanted to help more but I could not. She did came close to death there, but the staff at work did a magnificent job. I never felt a single moment that they did even so slightly loose control over the whole situation.
There was one nurse however, that gave me quite the chills. She was one brute mammoth of a woman! My wife was at the last stage, very exhausted, almost no energy left anymore and the child not quite there yet. Dangerous situation for both as she could have collapsed and the little one could have suffocated. Enter nurse hulk, tall, bulky, looking like straight out of a horror movie hospital, staring at my wife intensely exclaiming “I count to three, then you give it your all, you got me?” like a drill sergeant. I was expecting her to count and kind of cheering on my wife or something like that. Nope… she counted to three, my wife started pressing and then shehulk jumped in the air like michael jordan, both feet off the ground, palming both of her hands on the stomache of my wife, driving all of her estimated 100kg bodymass straight into her. Wife screamed like an animal that is being slaughtered alive. That was the most fear I ever experienced. Child not born yet, the nurse started counting a second time. The whole scene was so surreal, so very surreal. *Plop* there my daughter was.
The nurse smiled briefly, “Good job, well done. The rest is up to you.”, waved at the other staff and walked off.
That was when I first got to hold my daughter in my own arms. Tiny, frail, bloody, squirming and screaming. Wife still alive but pretty beaten up. I was offered to cut off her umbilical cord, if I preferred not to, the staff would have done it for me, but you can bet your cheeks I wanted to do that! So I did as I was asked and then showed our daughter to my wife. My mind went blank at that moment. No fear anymore, no thoughts about how I am going to fare as a parent. I was overwhelmed with happiness, at the same time at a total loss for any words. The most intense moment in my life ever. Period.
The following days and weeks were mainly recuperation time for my wife. The thought of what happened still needed some time to settle in. The fact that I got to be a dad of a little princess, how my life will change and whatnot, all that started slowly coming back to my mind.
The first thing that changes is how and when you sleep. The usual cycle changes from waking up at 9am, going to sleep at 2am and having a good sleep to waking up at 7am, falling exhausted into the bed at midnight or earlier and waking up at the night several times. After a time you get used to it so much that you hardly can stay awake after midnight and start waking up by yourself at around 8am even if you have the rare opportunity to sleep as much as desired.
Another very minor but important detail is how you eat as a family. There is no more “eating together”. Rather it is like that: Imagine all of you three are pretty damn hungry. Almost hangry. It was decided that you can start, so your wife starts the dinner with feeding the child, while you yourself rush in as fast and as much as possible to be finished as quickly as possible. Then you take over the task of feeding so that your wife can eat her dinner before it gets cold.
Then you have to alter your hobbies aswell. Before we could play all day, go out, watch movies in cinemas, meet friends, travel around, do whatever we pleased to do. This kind of freedom has to be altered. The daughter comes first. Always. But we managed to cope with that. Videogames could well be played after she went to sleep at 7pm. Going out required us to find a babysitter, luckily my brothers live in the same building as we do, so that’s that, still going out becomes more of a rare and special thing to happen. Meeting friends did not change at all, we just come as a package of three instead of two. Traveling is just limited slightly at the start by how much space we have to carry a third set of clothes, some diapers and a pram around.
Money becomes an issue quickly tho. You have to feed one more precious being more. A being that regularly needs new clothes since it grows, that needs diapers worth around 40€ per month, special nutrition that costs a fortune compared to the garbage that us adult plebs can feast upon. Initially I had planned on becoming a freelancing soundengineer however after I learned how things work now that I have a daughter to take care off and how money gets drained, I knew freelancing was too much of a risk, because no customers means no money, so I took a job that pays me every month fixed and ended up where I am now.
The next thing is that what seemed fine for you to live in, suddenly seems to be too dangerous for a little child. So we secured what we could. Also before we were rather lazy in terms of keeping the flat nice and clean but that aswell had to be changed. At first we successfully kept everything clean but the moment the little one started playing with toys, it became a mess again only this time not messy with stuff like fast food boxes but with toys everywhere.
With toys, comes the need of space. Space to play, space to store stuff. A flat that is just fine for the two of us suddenly becomes cramped and tight. If you are in our situation, where you can’t just afford getting a new flat just like that, you have to start reworking your current flat over and over and over again, optimizing, throwing away, improving, increasing efficiency again and again, almost every few months.
But you start to manage and adapt to all that rather quickly. Routines are developed and adapted on the go while learning. You take turns sleeping through, you take turns on who starts eating first, you adapt hobbies, discard some, find some new. The only thing you never should do is giving up, no matter on what.
The little filly holds a very special place in my heart. She makes me weak to things I was not weak before. Before I was hardly getting sick at all, no matter what sickness other people were facing me with, my immune system brushed it off like it was a joke. However tinyme just gives me a gentle cough to my face and *boom* a week on sickleave it is.
Also I am very weak to her pleads. Whenever she wants something, simple things like being carried even though she can walk perfectly well, or things like toys or sweets, I still have a hard time saying “no”. But I have to do so from time to time. A part of parenting is also saying “no”. The hardest and most difflicult moments to say “no” are when she is crying, not “played” crying out of protest, sincere sad crying when she has to go to sleep alone at night as a punishment to something she did or when you leave her at kindergarden and at that day she really would rather stay with you even though it is not possible because you have to work. This rips you internally quite a bit, but you get used to that aswell.
Punishment is also a thing you are forced to do from time to time even though you don’t really want to. We never raised a hand physically against her and never will be. Our punishments are aimed towards her weak spots and vary in “harshness”. Things like (including threatening to do so) no more TV today, temporarily taking away her newest toy, no dessert and the top two punishments: no bedtime story and having to go to bed alone. However whenever we punish her, it is very important to us to explain here why we are doing that. Still as you want to be a good parent, you usually do not want to punish. But just looking the other way is not good either. It will spoil her.
Seeing her grow and evolve is very fascinating. Developing her own traits, some similar to mine, some similar to her mom’s, dropping some traits, gaining skills, learning things, all that is interesting to watch. And as a parent you can do so much to influence it, even by not doing anything.
The first thing she gave me as a present was a stone. A simple stone that she liked. I was very happy about that, because it is the act of giving that was what made me proud, not the stone itself. But that happiness of mine stuck with her, so by now I have a fair collection of stones at home in all shapes and sizes. And I still am honestly happy abut every pebble she brings to me. Shows how much effect even so tiny things can have.
So in short, life gets more challenging, but so much more satisfying. Seeing the little one evolve and grow up, learning from every single step you take, adapting and changing it, is just fascinating and fun on it’s own. You loose some and gain other aspects in your life. You could say getting a child is like enabling hard mode. Harder yet more rewarding.
Well that was more to write than I initially thought and I am sure I still missed some things…
If questions arise, feel free to comment or discuss below.
Until next time and thanks for reading.