Out of all of the preparation for baby, how much preparation goes into becoming a father?
Let's be honest, it's hard to prepare yourself for the fact that you are becoming a father. Our manly role as provider, cultivator, and helper go into overdrive as we help our significant other through nine months. We spend a lot of time putting her needs before ours (as we should and continue to do), but isn't there this one part of us that says, "what about me?" Many other questions may follow, but there is one particular thought and/or question that creeps into our minds. The question is...What does it mean and/or look like to be a father?
When I found out that we were pregnant with our first, I honestly was overwhelmed. So, not only did I have to deal with the birth of a marriage, the birth of living in a new city, Chattanooga, the birth of living in a new apartment, a new job, and to top it all off, the birth of a new father. There was so much 'new' in my life. I literally cried with my wife on our bed after work when she told me that she was pregnant (Yes, I cried lol) I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know how to feel. I thought that it was all too quick, and that I hadn't had time to really even develop being a good husband, and now I was going to be a father? I did what every one is able to do, and that was take it a day at a time. I observed my new daughter, Ellianah. I spent time with her, held her tight, kissed her cheeks, changed her diapers, ran her to her mother when I honestly didn't know what to do. There were moments where I thought she didn't like me because I held her in a way she didn't like, but my wife was faithful to let me know that that wasn't true. Each day I took, the more I learned. The more I learned, the more I realized that this was new for Ellianah too and that we were going to continue to do this thing together. I think I finally realized that the one thing needing to be clearly demonstrated and communicated to baby and your significant other with the 'birth' of so much new is love. Throughout this day by day mentality, Lauren struggled with postpartum depression. I had to step up and be both mother and father at some points because some days were tough for Lauren. I had to learn how to communicate effectively with her and had to learn how to encourage her through what she was going through. It was hard, because after a long day teaching twenty (20) third graders, it was hard to come home and be both mother and father. But, throughout this whole experience the number one thing I learned as a new father was listening well and responding well.
By the time we had our son Jayce, it was another day at a time. Yet, I was learning all over again. He was vastly different than his sister, straight out of the womb. We had Jayce at home (which was the most peaceful experience in my life) he cried and cried. I felt as if I really didn't know him until he was around 4-6 months. He loved to be with his mom. It was rough because I didn't get the chance to really cuddle and hold him like I did with his sister. I was a little resentful toward Lauren because he wanted her more than me. I wanted him to fall asleep in my arms, or on my chest. But, I had to come to the realization that he was different and that my time would come.
Having Jayce at home solidified Lauren's passion to become a doula. As her knowledge of birth grew, so did mine. Which is why I wanted to write this blog for her. I wanted to reach out to father's that may have had the same type of difficulties as I did. I wanted to let you know that it's okay to express the challenges we had in becoming a new father.
I love this quote, "You will be what you will see. But what you don't see you cannot be. You will become what you behold. But what you don't behold you cannot become." Arriving home with our newborn/s let's face it, it's survival mode. We emulate what we saw our father do. But, like every man, we want to be and do better in ways. We set our eyes on a certain goal or accomplishment, in other words we will become what we behold.
To be a father is showing my son what it looks like to treat women. Being a father to me is showing my daughter what a man is supposed to be. I could go on and on about what being a father is but I'll stop there. I stopped because embedded in all of these wonderful things mentioned above is the overarching theme of modeling. Be the model that you would want your children to emulate when you leave. The birth of a father is the birth of a legacy.