This is part of a series of blog posts under the title Fatherhood Diaries, which will be published here every Monday (for the foreseeable future). Enjoy.
It is difficult to discuss feelings. Not the opening-up part but rather the description of a feeling that may not be familiar to everyone, which I only experienced after the occurrence of the life-changing event that was the birth of my son.
I met my son seconds after his birth. I wasn’t able to see him immediately. I had to remove my glasses and get the tears out of my eyes. The same for his mum who was in the delivery room laying on the bed next to me holding him for the very first time. The initial feelings were shock-driven from the sighting of the woman I love making unprecedented sounds and getting a baby out of her formerly huge, amazing belly. It took a couple of hours for the adrenaline to wear off and for me to start making sense of what was happening.
After we left the delivery room we moved to a different room and had some time just the two of us and the baby. He seemed helpless and fragile and his skin was so soft. His face was all messed up from having emerged in this world through the narrow path that is his mother’s cervix. He was simply adorable, like a little kitten. I felt as one does when a cute being comes to their care and is dependent on them for their survival. I stayed in the clinic with my wife and the baby for the next three days. The baby slept with us in the room and seldom left our side. We decided to use our time in the clinic constructively and do the nappy-changing and the bathing ourselves by utilizing the nurses as guides rather than as full-time nannies, wanting to acquire some know-how for when we went home.
The second day was the most difficult. Time was required for the breast milk to start flowing and the baby was constantly on my wife crying and being uncomfortable trying to get used to his new environment. To make him relax and feel cozy I hugged and held him for long periods of time. We even spent some time just the two of us, in an attempt to give some breathing space to his mum, who was also trying to get used to the new situation. I talked to him. I told him how glad I was that he was around, how much I wished him good luck and a happy life. I was amazed by the idea that this little guy was as innocent as anyone can ever be. A harmless little dude that all he asked for was our love and attention.
That was the moment I got hooked. But in a weird way, different than with any of my previous relationships of love; romantic, friendly or otherwise. Romantic love usually goes through the face of excitement, of ‘being in-love’, before becoming transformed into something more meaningful, something deep of the sort of till-death-do-us-part. The same with friendships. Strong friendships are the product of shared experiences and long-term investment in relationships that both parties consider worth fostering. The type of affection I felt towards my son was something different. It didn’t have to go through this intermediary step. From the moment we clicked, I loved him in a deep, profound sort of way. My love for him is at the same level as that towards my wife, which I thought impossible up until then.
Weirdly, the in-love part came later. The first couple of weeks (or months) were dedicated to us keeping him alive and managing the new reality of caring for a human being who is absolutely dependent upon us. It was only once we got the basics covered that I managed to relax and enjoy the moment. The turning point was towards the third month when he started following us with his eyes and smiling back to us. Babies’ smiles must be evolutionary devices for parents to keep on caring for their children. No matter the sleeplessness, no matter if he was crying his lungs out and worried you to death, irrespective of whether you had a shitty day at the office or you had a fight with your partner, once they turn to you, focus on your face and break a laugh, all bets are off, everything is erased and you stand staring at them in their crib, smiling back to them and feeling like a happy idiot.
Such are my feelings towards the little tyrant. Never have I developed such deep bonds of love in such a short amount of time with anyone ever in my life. It is simply unprecedented.