With my daughter just turning one yesterday, I had some time to reflect back on what a crazy first night it was when she came into this world. Behind this confident looking dad constantly posting Instagram photos of how wonderful being a dad is – lies a memory of a traumatic, life changing first night at the hospital. A night that has forever shaped this dad, and is now in the back of his mind whenever the inkling of having a second child comes into conversation.
You know when you buy Ikea furniture and before you build, you go through the instructions and feel a little overwhelmed? That’s kind of like becoming a parent. You know what the end product looks like, but the process of getting there is what’s confusing and intimidating.
You realize that the end goal is you becoming a competent and loving parent, but in order to become that, you need to go through so many confusing and trying steps.
That is what I realized that first night when she arrived.
I remember that the first night after she came out, when her mom was recovering and I was lying with her skin to skin on a makeshift couch bed, she was so tiny and so delicate.
I thought to myself:
“Oh sh*t, I have a daughter. Oh sh*t, I’m a dad now.”
That moment, I felt like everything that I had prepared myself for was useless.
I envisioned how I would be as a dad, and I envisioned how it would be like to have a baby. But when it finally happened, I never actually thought about process of become a dad.
Basically, for those first early moments, I just did stuff I saw on TV and movies.
Seriously, at one point in my hysterical mindset I thought, “Oh I must sing this song to her so that she’ll have an emotional attachment to it and be calm in the future whenever I sing”
I talked to her and told her how everything was going to be fine and life is going fantastic.
That was all a lie of course.
I mean can you imagine sleeping peacefully in a warm toasty bed only to be forced out to the cold winter streets – wet and naked?
I’d be pissed and freaked out.
For the rest of the night I remember her waking up and crying every one and a half hours. And I remember getting up each interval changing her diaper and bringing her to mom for feeding.
After the feeding I would put her in a loose swaddle and rock her so that she would fall asleep.
All that crying.
It sounded like they cross-bred one of those rubber chickens with a pterodactyl.
What a truly terrible sound.
I felt bad that she was crying and disturbing her mom, so I just started walking around the maternity ward shoeless with a tiny baby in circles.
At one point I even thought, maybe if I walk her over to the nurses desk, they’ll see how distraught I look and help me hold her for a bit.
They just politely smiled and gave me a “your-wife-just-went-through-labour-and-you-better-hold-on-to-that-newborn-look.”
Basically I was so tired and overwhelmed, and I thought:
“Shhhhhhh*t I have a daughter now, and thiiiis is how it’s going to be?
I really didn’t think it would be that hard.
But it was.
And it’s something that I’ll never forget.
Of course things got better little by little as each day passed. And when we finally were discharged from the hospital, we felt relatively confident that we were able to do this.
And we were right.
As the weeks turned into months, and the months now became a year life is pretty sweet.
A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on
As I write this, my daughter is quietly taking a morning nap, and last night I even slept for 7 hours!
Life is good right now.
Yes, there still are tough days and tough nights. But nothing can measure up to that first night.
I think the experience I gained on that first night was exactly what I needed to prepare me as a dad.
And that’s the thing about becoming a parent, you can read all the books, go to the pre-natal classes, or talk to seasoned parents about their experiences. But when the moment comes and a life is gifted to you, you forget everything just learn on the fly.
And you’ll never forget. Ever.