The cliché is true. Once you become a dad, your life changes forever.
As I am writing this article, thoughts flood my mind on the things I’ve experienced this past six months as me and my wife welcomed a new chapter in our life – becoming parents. Her story is different, and today, I will try my best to put into words the things I’ve learned as a starting father.
If you’re a father of grownups, I salute you! May this reading refresh your memory of the joys and the smile it brought you when you held your first baby.
If you’re an expectant father, feel free to read this as a survival guide of some sorts 😛 – but seriously, congratulations in advance and I hope you learn a thing or two.
If you’re the same as me, may this writing serve as my way of saying that all the things you are experiencing are worth it!
Let’s get started!
First things first!
Becoming a dad for me is a long process. It did not start when our baby came out, but it all began after we were married. I think I’ve always understood that marriage ultimately leads to a family, and that is why right after we were married, I really wanted to have a baby. However, life is not always a fairytale. The first important aspect of fatherhood that I’ve learned is that to become a father takes preparation.
There are a lot of things we essentially needed before we can start having a baby. Here are some of the questions that we’ve asked ourselves to see whether we are ready.
It’s not that we already have saved up a huge amount that will last until they graduate from college. It would be ideal, but there are a lot of uncertainties in life that one cannot really put the right figure to save. Frankly, no one really knows what the sum will be in raising a child. But what’s important is that we had an initial amount that we can spend for my wife’s checkup, the delivery of the baby and her vital needs as it comes along.
Our Emotional Wellbeing
Raising up a baby is a responsibility. In our situation, it is entirely new as we never had any children before. That’s why we both assessed our personalities first if we are ready.
I strongly believe that God’s timing is the best timing to have a baby. Children are a blessing from God, and from our experience, having a healthy relationship with God helped us to hear the right time when to have our first baby.
I assessed our relationship, our finances and our readiness and we decided to hold off on having a baby. Once we both knew that we are ready which was a year after, God gave us our little bundle of joy!
Baby on the Way!
Now that we were prepared, we had our monthly check ups and everything was good! Our baby was healthy and everything seems to be well. Our only challenge was her positioning, the doctor initially advised us that we had to undergo a caesarian operation. But as months progressed our baby seemed to be positioned well and ready to go!
The day has come, and on March 13, 2017 we went to the hospital expecting a normal delivery.
That’s when I realized another important thing about parenting – You will never know what will happen next!
Welcome to the world!
I sat for hours, and even slept while waiting for our baby to come out. In the morning, I was advised that labor is taking too long and that our baby might get suffocated, and we opted to do a caesarian operation.
But let me tell you a secret. I think most dads will agree that the day of the delivery causes a lot of worries, anxiety and hunger. I knew a friend who ate his stress away while waiting for their baby, but for mine it was totally different. For some reason, I felt peace. I slept the night and was not even worried that there would be any complications. I think that came from my faith in God. I trusted Him in this situation that I had totally no control over, and He, being the God who is all powerful, took care of it and that was why on March 14, at 11:14AM, Baby Naomi Faith was born!
The first hours and days
The first hours were full of joy, but was also tiring. I had to step up because my wife had just been operated and cannot move. I was the one to carry my child, and I did something I swore to never do – change diapers!
I instantly became a diaper expert! I inspect, I smell, and thankfully I didn’t have to taste it! But all the while, I was enjoying it. Instantly, I realized another thing about becoming a father, and that is a father must be ready to do things beyond his comfort zone.
Several days past, and one of the struggles that me and my wife had been the lack of sleep. Our baby cries when hungry and that is almost by the hour. Being a freelance dad, I was thankful that I was there, but at the same time feeling too tired because of the lack of sleep. It’s almost as if life is being drained from us. And for the first-time dads out there, this is my advice: If you can, take a leave and be with your wife on the first days of birth. She needs you more than ever.
A few weeks have past, and finally, I am seeing light at the end of tunnel. Sleep is getting better and we finally reap the joys of having our daughter. Her smiles, cries, and the sounds she makes is music to my ears and I always look forward to watch how she grows.
By this time, I started to notice a very important principle that I’d like to share: Even babies need their dads with them.
What I mean by this is that we commonly mistake that the first years of a child are for the mom. That dads like us should only focus on providing for the baby, but we spend little time with them thinking that they don’t appreciate us yet, or that don’t understand anything yet. That is not true.
As I have trained in basic counseling, I’ve learned that the first three years of a child’s life is forever. And the counting starts at zero. Babies, even when they cannot speak or articulate what they want needs more than milk. Being in the womb for 9 months and suddenly being pushed into an environment they are not familiar with, they need to know that they are safe and that the people whom they feel and see can be trusted. That is where we as dads come in. We need to be felt by our kids as early as possible so that our relationship with them can get stronger. Trust is a vital part of relationship – and our relationship with our kids need to be built on that foundation.
Fast forward to today, I am still learning my ways as father. I am not perfect, but I cannot be. None of us are. But I can become the best father to my daughter by choosing to become intentional. And to end this short story, here are the 3 things that I believe can take us dads into a higher level of parenting.
We need to be prepared, not only financially, but also emotionally and spiritually. Being a dad is more than a title, but it’s also a responsibility. It is the most important aspect of our lives. It not only helps shape our kids, but also the nation.
Go beyond the comfort zone
Dads like us must be willing to step beyond what is normal and become a better version of ourselves every single day. We need to put off our pride, and become humble to know that there are things we need to learn, things we need to change, and things we need to let go to become better in being dads.
Faith in God
God is our ultimate Father, He is the one who can guide us, provide for us and teach us about what it means to really become a dad for our children. While most of us dads throw our spiritual life in the back burner, it is essential. It is the best foundation to start off with.
About The Author
Manuel is a guy who loves books. He enjoys reading and does it whenever he can. If he’s not reading, he spends time with his family and also ministers to teenagers in a local church. He does public speaking and talks about issues concerning the youth and young professionals. An Oleia topical oil user and content contributor.