When Nic asked me to do this post for Mabel’s first six months, I was excited, a chance to express my experiences of having our first child, but slowly I have been filled with fear, what should I say? Will other people agree with it or think that I was a bad father? What if my experiences and feelings were different from what other people thought?? It is a very public way of outing one’s child-raising beliefs, pinning your colours to the mast and opening up your self for scrutiny. I then realised that these were the same kind of thoughts and fears I was having before Mabel was born. That feeling of being inadequate of not living up to the sizable role that is being thrust upon you. (perhaps thrust upon are the wrong words), I was excited but the excitement was filled with trepidation. Most of my life I have tried to avoid responsibility or expectation to skulk through the shadows and hide in plain sight, but that was now over and so in the build-up there was a lot of fear. Nic didn’t seem to have any of this and already seemed attached and she was the rock that allowed me to secure my fears and keep moving.
If you have read the delivery you will know most of the details, but it was hard to see the person you love go through so much. When things started to happen and the room started to fill up, it was hard not to listen in to bits of conversations, and the dark section of my mind began to formulate a number of outcomes that could occur. I won’t go into them now but I am sure you can all imagine. In the end, thankfully nothing of the sort happened. The first cry broke the spell and those thoughts fell away. It is hard to define the feeling you have when your first child is thrust into your arms, but I will try and fail. It is the happiest I have felt like a welling of emotion, that constricts the airwaves and opens the eyes. Like the moment before a yawn but continuous!!
So Mabel was born, I am holding back from gushing over with adjectives, you have all seen the photos so let’s leave it at that. I remember the first night, down to what was on the TV and I still get the feeling of the first moment I held her, even now as I write this on a train. Those first two weeks were incredible and were over way too fast and then it was back to work.
Going back to work in some selfish way was great. I got to escape and go back to normality leaving my fears of inadequacies behind me, but there was also a massive emotional downside as I started to miss parts of Mabel’s development. My daily commute is long and I was only getting about an hour and a half each evening with her. Soon she wouldn’t let me put her down as the attachment to Nic grew. I was left as a bit player, feeding and changing her without the ability to comfort. This tore me up. It is hard to explain as the logical side of you tries to quantify that it is only a phase and it will pass. It has, but the period of only about a week was hard.
I feel this is a rather negative blog post but I have found that like playing with a cut in your mouth, the tinges of pain I get when thinking about them make the good times more vivid. Remembering the fear of the delivery room allows me to enjoy the sound of her crying in the night, the pain of leaving her every morning makes coming home even sweeter, I don’t know if I imagine it but I think it is the same for her!!
Overall these last six months have been some of the best, seeing how people react to Mabel and she to them is heartwarming. I have seen new sides to both my parents and brothers.
To anyone reading this and expecting, I will give you one piece of advice. Embrace the fear but don’t let it consume you, it will make it all the more sweeter.