One of the most common phrases I heard once our news has been announced to the world and I had come to terms with the fact that there was no way I was getting out of this was “Don’t worry once you ………………….you will feel a rush of emotions and it will all be ok.” The dotted line could be filled in with many parts of the process apparently i.e. 1st scan, 2nd scan, hold him in your arms, first smile, the list was endless!
I heard this from just about every person who was happy to discuss my impending fatherhood so I presumed it must be true and waited eagerly for the emotions to kick in with every detail as so many people had promised it would.
The day of the first scan came along and I almost felt a relief that it was here, telling myself that this is the day it all clicks into place, this is the day my heart will melt and everything will make sense.
But it didn’t. I saw the baby, or the image of the baby and I felt nothing. If I had felt something, albeit a small emotion, I would have felt less scared, but there was nothing and this caused the fear to escalate. I sat next to that bed, looking at the tears in my partners eyes, smiling at her in a soppy way as I thought I should, but truth be told I couldn’t feel a thing!
What was wrong with me? If everyone said I would feel something then I must be wired wrong to not feel a thing.
I now know, but only with the benefit of hindsight, that I’m not alone here. See, to me, it still wasn’t real, this unclear black and white shape didn’t show me what was coming into my life, I couldn’t picture this image living in my house with me and because of this there was not going to be an emotional connection but at the time I just sunk further into my isolation thinking there was something not right with me.
The second scan followed and we discussed whether or not we wanted to know the sex of our anticipated arrival. My partner had wanted this to be a surprise, this is something else that has always puzzled me but maybe it’s my cynical side showing through, I mean, it’s either a boy or girl, not much of a surprise. I would only be surprised if she gave birth to a puppy! Actually, the way I felt at the time I would have given anything for that to happen!
After a lot of discussion it was decided that we would find out, I will admit that this was more for my benefit than hers I am now ashamed to say. She knew how difficult I was finding things and she was happy to do anything to try and make it easier and if that meant knowing whether I was having a son or a daughter and helping me bond and relate then she didn’t hesitate.
When I say I am ashamed to say this is due to the fact the I carry a lot of guilt about how I made the early part of the pregnancy difficult, something that I will spend the rest of my life apologising for.
The day of the 20 week scan came along and I approached the day with dread, what was I going to do if I still didn’t feel anything, was I destined to grow old with a child that I felt nothing for? Not the most exciting prospect I assure you.
When we had the sonography done I sat at the bedside as usual but was sat forward further than I should have been. As the paddle moved across my partners midriff I saw more than I was meant to, I saw hands, feet, I saw a head, I saw the hands move up to the head. Just as I was taking all of that in I was told that we were having a little boy.
It was the news I had wanted, although I didn’t want children if I really had to, and it seemed by this point I did, then I wanted a boy.
So surely by now I should have been feeling something, anything! But still no.
This didn’t last long. I sat in the waiting room as my partner used the toilet and I felt strange, a feeling building up inside that I couldn’t explain and still can’t. I needed to get out if the building quickly, I needed to be alone with her.
We went back to the car, stepped inside and I broke down, sobbed my heart out, I was having a boy!
If I’m honest I think I would have been the same had it been a girl, it was just that it had become real, now I could imagine growing up with my son, I could plan, I’m sure none of these plans will pan out but at least I could now get used to the idea. I had an image I could relate to.
At the birth he came into the world after a short labor and I found myself regressing, I remember welling up but not a huge rush of emotions that I had expected to feel. I tried to push these nagging thoughts to the back of my min again, reminding myself of the scans and assuring myself that it had been a long day and I was probably just tired and drained.
My partner needed an operation straight after labor, she had time to feed him but they wanted to get her into theatre fairly quickly so I was to be left, literally, holding the baby. I had hoped that she would do the first nappy etc. and I would be able to learn at my own pace in the comfort of my own home but it wasn’t to be. I put on his first nappy, his first clothes, which happened to be a baby-grow with the words ‘just like daddy’ across it. Well, if I had to do it all I was going to make the most of it!
They then took my partner into theatre and after checking I was ok left me alone with my son for the first time. I have promised myself that whilst writing these posts I will be honest with myself and I guess this is the first time I have dissected this part of the journey, but looking back I didn’t have a rush of feelings, there wasn’t love, that came later and boy has it hit me now! I was aware that this little human in my arms needed me, depended on me and in return I felt an urge to comfort him and protect him.
They left me in that room for two hours, I still think it was fate, we spent most of it staring at each other and in those moments I made a pact with him that I would look after him and always do my best for him. A pact that I am doing my best to honour now.
So I suppose my point is this, if I hadn’t had any preconceived ideas of what I was meant to feel it would still have happened anyway but just maybe I wouldn’t have beat myself up so much along the way.
Every person is different, everyone feels things differently, so if you are going through anything like I did then the best advice I can give you is relax, just take each day as it comes and by all means listen to those around you but above all listen to your own head and heart.