Memes of this sort of thing pop up all over the interwebs. For me, these are some of my personal observations. These are mainly directed towards men and new dads.
There are many untold truths to being a dad.
The first is that the smelliest and hairiest man in the quiet of his own home will not refuse the xth cup of tea from his daughter if asked. He will however deny it ever happened if asked.
That the first time your little one, walks across the room towards you reaches their arms out hugs and says “I love you Daddy” – nothing prepares you for that – it is life changing.
The untold truth to being a dad is that if you let yourself be taken away with the experience of being a dad – playing games, reading books, coloring in a book or as simple as just giving the little one a hug and a kiss every time they are near – it changes your life for the better.
The untold truth of being a dad is the fact that it changes you – it makes you a little more sympathetic the next time you are in a restaurant and a little one cries – for we all know it happens to all of us so you better get used to it. It makes us a little more prepared – as in there is no way that you are ever going to get out of the house in 15 minutes if the 16 things you need to pack including the kids are not ready to go laid out or already standing by.
The things that you aren’t told about are the things you are meant to discover on your own- it is almost a dad’s rite of passage – the secret handshake to show you were really there – here are a few things I learned going through the first child delivery and birth:
Your wife is stronger than you are, no joke – so labor for my wife was in the vicinity of 40 hours. That is like having the worst stomach ache followed by the pain of tearing flesh and then the feeling of a hard head being squeezed through an opening the size of your fist…yeah, and she endured the first 38 with no drugs..until there was no choice.
Plan like you are heading into battle
Pack the overnight bag like you are going on a mission in the middle of the woods not like you are heading for the 4 Seasons – face it you could be in hospital for two days like I was and have nothing. Or you could have packed like a real man and planned to have granola bars, some water maybe an energy drink and for the love of god – some really good chocolate for your wife. I mean splurge a little on some Belgian or imported chocolates – she will love you forever.
Be gentle with her – and I mean each and every time she screams, hits, punches or does not make the contact you need to get through the event – she is the one feeding off you – be the strong man you need to be – get the ice chips or a popsicle if asked. The docs will not let you do anything other than that until the baby is born then break out the chocolates (see 2). In some cool cities (like ours) you can even ask for a can of Beer. Yes, in fact they recommend Guinness for women after birth as it can replace lost iron from delivery. Some cities forego this as it can be risky if wifey is breastfeeding, but ask it might just be what you need.
Something’s need to be private so if you are a prolific twitterer or bookfacer, leave it alone and focus on the task at hand, namely your wife and yet to be born child. There will be lots of time to do that stuff when the baby is born. The nurses, doctors and staff need you focusing on the task at hand. Remember that YOU are going to have to make decisions for your wife/partner because she is too busy with labour. If a doctor asks you a question, like, does your wife have any problems with drugs or any medical conditions not listed, you better bring your “A” game. Two or more lives are in this now – so stop being selfish. Suck it up and focus. When it is all done – go wild.
Real men gown up and get in the room – NO Questions asked
Since my wife was not able to hold onto K once she was born, the team of nurses handed me the baby first. The thing about it was that until that very second the nurse said “hold her in the crook of your arm like a football.” that was the Very. First. Time. I had ever held a child. Was I nervous? In a word – terrified.
How did I get over it? I sang to her.
I sang to her for 20 minutes while my wife was receiving some treatment. I sang every lullaby, song, or nursery rhyme I could all the while gazing into the face of a wet, wrinkled baby. The room was full of people but it didn’t matter. Don’t be afraid. Sing to your new child, no one is there to judge you.
When the doctors were finished with my wife, I gingerly brought her over to her and asked we get our first family portrait. Save it. Print it. Cherish it.
You get out of it what you put into it
The real untold truth of being a dad is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you decide this is going to be the singular transformational change in your life then embrace it with all the passion and vigor at your disposal and you will be rewarded with a child that adores and loves you and a warm feeling that you have, indeed, made the world a better place.