On Fatherhood

They tell mothers-to-be that they may not feel that motherly attachment to their baby the minute the baby is born. It has a lot to do with hormones, societal expectations, and culture. But they do tell them that the baby may seem foreign and unfamiliar at first, and it may take as long as two weeks or more to become familiar with this new life.

I didn’t take to fatherhood at first. I guess that’s unfair, I took to it just fine, but the minute Jillian was born, I was much more concerned about my wife who had just had a C-section than I was about the little baby. After all, if something happened to the baby, I’d still have Jenn and life would go on, albeit tragically. But if something happened to Jenn, I’d be crushed; devastated without direction.

I guess I could say I loved Jillian on day 1, but the truth is it took a few days to warm up to her. Babies really aren’t much – they don’t really tell you this – but they don’t do anything. They just lay around, sleep, cry, crap, and occasionally feed. They don’t smile, focus, laugh, or express any emotion. They mainly sleep and cry.

As time went on, each day, I’d find myself a little more enamored with baby. Each day, really around 2 months, she started becoming more and more a real person. She started smiling. She stopped crying all the time. She started expressing preference for one person over another. And I realized that I had a nice emotional bond with her.

Around 3 months, she started to actually develop some muscle and was able to hold her own weight on her knees if you balanced her. She chortled her first laughs and started being more comfortable in her own skin. She began to understand diaper changing and bottle preperation.

She just turned 6 months, now entering her 7th, and I just realized – I am paralyzed by how much I love my daughter. Now she sits up and rolls over. She communicates with us in so many ways and understands her surroundings like I never anticpated. She likes playing with the dog. She focuses on the TV and even prefers certain shows. She’s a full fledged person – she’s graduated from baby to infant.

As a new parent, you’re pre-conditioned to think you will love your child in a magical way. But I’m not sure people are capable of turning love on and off like that. Maybe mothers, who have a different kind of bond with an in utero child, but certain fathers are challenged to go from 0-60 on day 1. But the truth is, it doesn’t take long before you are won over by the absolute magic that is parenthood.

I can’t imagine life without my baby girl, and, as a parent, I worry about things that never would have crossed my mind. I spend time daydreaming during the day about hanging out with my kid and think about how much fun we’ll have when she’s just a little older. The other day I literally broke down in unexpected tears listening to the Beatles’ Golden Slumbers thinking about her, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I cried.

Being a parent subjects you to strong emotion and deep love in a manner I’m not certain one can truly understand until they experience it themselves. The idea that a piece of you is alive in this person, this person you have to strain to see as anything but perfect, it’s overwhelming. And it’s absolutely, positively wonderful.

5 Replies to “On Fatherhood”

  1. Those feelings vary a lot from person to person and culture to culture. There’s a lot of stuff going around in one’s head when you suddenly are in full control over and responsible for someone’s life.. Me, as soon as I saw my newborn daughter I bursted into tears of joy, and I would have literally killed anyone if they had threatened her. Mother’s instinct awoke the same instant and I didn’t have any trouble getting adjusted to the changes it brought into my life. I still wish I could experience it all over again.

  2. Congratulations on your baby!

    I think people are all different in the way they accept new life.

    As for me, I was pretty much an orphan most of my childhood.

    As an adult, my experience with my children mirrors yours. I come to terms with each child and their personalities.

    Contrary to popular belief, most women don’t automatically bond with their children when they are born.

  3. I agree with you about newborn babies not being that interesting. They’re more of a novelty item, and a big pain in the ass. But what they represent is potential, and as they grow, that love you feel with keep growing as you are able to engage with them more. Welcome to the roller-coaster ride. When you start to be able to talk to them, to play games, and to take pride in their accomplishments, it’s really amazing. Then when the get older and start to assert their independence and defy you, it really gets frustrating. What an emotional trial we sign ourselves up for!

  4. My baby girl is 15 months young, and I have to tell you that I love her everyday even more, at almost 25, I would have never expected to love someone the way I do now.

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