It’s been a while since my post on fatherhood in The Invisible Dad, so I thought it appropriate to give a proper commentary on where life as a parent has taken me physically, mentally and emotionally. Isaac is now over 15 months and in that time it hasn’t just been him that has changed, I have too.
When I first became a dad, I had the internal discussion about what kind of dad I wanted to be and if I would be up to the job. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the easiest of starts. No one tells you how difficult it will be and how massive the responsibility is to look after the tiny life that is passed to you. It got to me… a lot.
I had this baby that cried and I didn’t understand why. Looking back, it was no more than any other baby would, but not knowing how to soothe him, made me feel like a bad father. I found it difficult and got frustrated very easily. This frustration was born out of disappointment with myself for not living up to the preconceived idea of how fatherhood would suit me. I thought back to being in the Assisted Conception Unit whilst we were having IVF and how excited I was about being a parent, yet when Isaac arrived it seemed a million miles away from what I’d imagined.
I hadn’t had any real experience with babies and so the learning curve was huge. The first few weeks were the hardest and when I felt at my lowest. It was an emotional time generally, but there were points that I would just sit and cry. Something that I never spoke about to anyone else other than my wife.
It isn’t my intention to put dads off and make fatherhood sound traumatic. Becoming a parent is about growth; not just for your baby, but for you. I learnt many a life lesson and the most important to me was: Patience.
I stress out very easily in every part of my life and this was the case in the early days of Isaac. Patience and a baby with no initial routine, taught me to take each day as it comes and not to dwell on the little things. ‘Has he drank enough milk today?’ ‘He isn’t eating very much?’ These were the types of questions that plagued my day, until I learned to let go and realised that Isaac is his own person and no babies do exactly as a book says they should.
Things got better. Understanding his semi-routine; the amount of time until he would want another feed, another nap – gave me confidence in my abilities to care for him. From here I stopped doubting and truly began to enjoy fatherhood.
Our relationship has gone from strength to strength, as I always hoped it would. I have found new ways to bond with Isaac, one of which is indoor climbing. Before you fret, he doesn’t actually climb, he just enjoys running and rolling around on the padded floor. Another thing that has brought us closer is slinging. Wearing Isaac in a wrap and having him close, allowed me to chat with him as we went about our business, and now he even chats back. It also gave the added benefit of slingy cuddles, which helped build our connection and is just a lovely feeling to get that affection.
Through parent groups like Sheffield Slings and Sling Dads, I have met some amazing mums and dads and shared experiences. Being a part of a community has meant that questions are answered, advice is offered, friends are made and cake is eaten.
Over the last few months I have seen amazing changes and milestones; eating solids, crawling, walking and his first words. He has grown from this tiny baby, into an amazing little boy. A little boy that is fearless, funny and independent. I’m so proud to have been there at every step and am even prouder to be his dad.