First-Time Fatherhood – A Soul-Altering Journey

07 Apr 2014
First-Time Fatherhood – A Soul-Altering Journey

Realization of First-Time Fatherhood

I have always heard the fact that “any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad." To be honest, I realized this in my first-time fatherhood moment two years ago. I remember being flushed red with excitement and overwhelmed with the fact that we were expecting.”

Those nine months have been full of suspense, surprises, anxiety, joy, and many more unexplainable emotions. Well, little did I know that the roller-coaster ride was on the horizon!

Welcoming a baby girl

Unlike in other countries, it’s a surprise gender reveal in India, and we were blessed with a beautiful daughter after a whirlwind of nine months. I suppose many of the fathers can relate to the delighted feeling of welcoming a baby girl into their lives. I was not different.

The moment I held that little bundle of joy in my hands, something in me switched. I immediately felt responsible for her well-being, as I was brimming with inexplicable love at her breath-taking first sight.

Indian cultural traditions for new-borns have been in play for generations. To top it all, having a new- baby in a joint family is no less of a hassle-free experience. There are clashes of opinions, tossing of duties, raising of responsibilities, and, of course, an emotionally turbulent and exhausted mom to tackle, all of which require sheer patience and calmness.

Indian Cultural traditions for new-borns

It is a tradition in India to hire a maid following the birth of a new-born who would massage the baby and wrap it tightly in a cotton cloth, called swaddling. However, I have forever disliked the swaddling tradition of babies, as I feared the harshness inflicted on the delicate beings.

I also tried to convey my fears to my family, but my concerns fell upon deaf ears as my argument was countered by the fact that my own mother stated that I had been swaddled the same way, and I turned out just fine.

I began researching on the internet about this and came to know about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which scared me heaps and bounds. Following this, I began searching for alternatives to swaddling in the market to prevent SIDS. It took me 10 days to find one in Ahmedabad.

This incident was an eye-opener for me, as I realized my journey into fatherhood has just begun.

Joy of becoming a father comes with responsibilities

The joy of becoming a father does not lie in meeting your baby twice a day, but in being an essential part of the parenthood journey.

 Spending quality time with your wife can give you valuable insight into the challenges of motherhood, thus pushing you to be an essential part of the upbringing process.

Besides, the baby is half you too!

The first month with our doting daughter was a life-altering experience for me that nudged me out of my comfort zone. I witnessed my wife’s life go haywire, her eyes filled with exhaustion, and her emotions demanding a peaceful sleep.

I usually saw my wife waking up at night to breast-feed the baby or soothe her, as new-borns have their own share of adjustments to make in this new world.

It was one day that our daughter was asleep, and I and my wife shared our first private time since the birth of our daughter. That night, I realized what a mother goes through to raise a child and promised myself to be an assistant part of this journey, if not the main one!

First-time Fatherhood duties

So, here is my share of care that I contributed in my daughters’ initial caregiving years. I would really request that the new fathers inculcate, if not all, at least some of this to forge a beautiful wreath of memories for a lifetime. Trust me! You will later thank me for it!

1. Spend time with your partner

We men are often indulged either in our work or in our own personal space, sometimes discarding the fact that there is a young one at home for whom your partner is multi-tasking like a superwoman.

It is highly mandatory that you spend some quality time with her to try to get into her shoes and brace yourself to see a lot of fluids (blood, mucus, milk, etc.) coming out of her, her body transformation, and her emotional turmoil.

 If not more, your few minutes of comfort talk could ease her beyond your comprehension.

2. Pregnancy is hard

It is essential to understand that pregnancy is not a bed of roses. Your partner is undergoing huge transformations gradually, be it in moods, body, emotions, cravings, etc.

Your little efforts, like rubbing her feet and back, bringing her desired cravings (remember she is eating for two), taking a stroll in the park with her, going on romantic car rides, watching movies, going on candlelight dinners, etc., could help ease her strenuous motherhood journey.

Do not forget, it’s her first time too, and it’s her carrying the little one in her tummy!

3. Switch roles with your partner

This would actually make you realize what your partner is going through every day for the well-being of your child.

Take turns bathing your baby, waking up at night when the baby cries, changing diapers, helping your partner breastfeed by getting her water (because breastfeeding is a thirsty process), bringing your partner pillows for her comfort, taking your baby out on a stroll so that your partner can relax, etc.

This would form a bond with your new-born and your partner that will be etched with you for your lifetime.

4. Learn your baby’s signs

This is for sure going to be an adventurous ride, but make sure to remain calm in the process as it will happen at a slow pace.

Start by observing your baby’s coos, body language, and cries, like smacking lips, rolling, rubbing the eyes, whimpering, etc. Also, take advantage of the related videos available online to get an appropriate perspective on the same.

5. Talk with your new-born

We all know that a new-born utters nothing more than coos and cries, but it is still proven beneficial to indulge in a monologue with your new-born as it is believed that the new-born starts learning the native speech right from when he is in the womb.

If he poops or pees, you can say, “I am now searching for a diaper to change your soiled one,” or if he cries, you can interact by caressing it; if he is sleepy, you can sing a lullaby or read a bedtime story with attractive colours that will keep your child interested.

6. Skin-to-skin contact

There is nothing as comforting as skin-to-skin contact.

Make sure to have one with your child on a daily basis, like post your baby’s bath routine when he is naked. You can also make your baby wear a diaper, in case you fear the excretions.

This moment will be very heart soothing, and you will forever cherish it because it’s a part of you that you are holding on to your bare chest before he is all grown up and independent! A sad reality for parents, indeed!

7. Remember! It’s not about you, but you

Be mindful of your words and actions during this journey because you are just a part of the process. The main role is being played by your partner.

It’s the mother the baby needs the most in its early months. You are just trying to pacify the tiresome ride.

So, keep yourself calm, exercise regularly, meditate, and take proper sleep in between your free time so as to provide the necessary support to your partner when she needs it.

8. Household chores

Your partner is going to be really occupied with the baby, and thus, you can contribute to the household chores to make her life a little simpler.

Cook your partner’s favorite meal, buy groceries, tidy the house, water the plants, etc. Your partner is going to be very grateful, and this might even become a bonding moment for both of you.

9. Be a real saviour

Keep researching the new products in the market to make the journey a little easier for your partner because she would not usually have the time for the same.

Also, she would overlook her health over her baby, and you should step up to take care of her if that happens.

Observe what your partner needs the most and make sure to get it for her, be it a maternity pillow, an ice cream, a bedside bassinet, a breast pump, comfortable footwear for those plump feet during pregnancy, or massage oils for stretch marks.

Also, hire a masseuse on some days as pregnancy demands relaxation and her body is not letting that happen. All of this can make her a little relaxed and happy knowing you are there!

10. Play with your baby

We have always seen mothers engaging in a fun time with their babies to keep them entertained despite being tired. Daddies! It’s your time to shine here!

Spend time with your baby, play with it, take it out on a stroll, sit in nature, let your baby explore the outer world with its eyes, laugh with your baby, tickle, sleep, and hug, but make sure you spend quality time with your little one, and in the meantime, tell the mommy to take a rest while you look after the baby.

11. Photographic Memories

Your kids are going to grow before your own eyes in no time.

From the day they start their first day at school to the day they graduate, you will realize it was just yesterday that I carried my little baby on my shoulders, and today he or she is all ready for real life.

So, click pictures while you can so that you are stashed with beautiful memories for their adulthood and for your old age because the time is always ticking.

Key takeaways

I have been very lucky to have my entire family look after my daughter, but not everyone is fortunate enough to be blessed with the same.

Although I did my share of my child’s care giving, the real challenge is when the parents are living alone without any outside help. It is then that the real parenthood challenges come to light, which are to be dealt with thorough shared responsibilities and love.

At last, remember, you are not born with the father instinct; it is going to come to you with time and experience.

So, embrace your faults, keep learning and experimenting, and finally become the epitome of an amazing dad in the book of journey of fatherhood.