"I love every minute of fatherhood, staying up all night, changing nappies, kids crying, I find it really funny and inspiring. It connects you to the world in a new way."
-Attributed to Elton John
Dads….what has been your favourite moment so far of being a dad?
As my regular readers would be aware by now, recently, Mrs. C21 gave birth to our first child, a healthy and amazing baby girl we named Audrey. Last night was our first night at home on our own which was rather scary and nerve-wracking, but we managed. This article is only semi-organised, written on what feels like very little sleep. As I sit here on the couch, with Mrs. C21 dozing in her feeding chair and Audrey asleep in the bassinet next to her, I have time to reflect on these first few days of fatherhood.
It is, without a doubt, the most amazing experience to hear the first cry of your child as it is born and I am not ashamed to admit that I wept tears of complete and utter overwhelming joy and relief when I heard her cry that first time. The prospect of having a child, until then a fairly abstract concept, very suddenly became real. I had been a little blase about a lot of things during the pregnancy, by virtue of having a seven year age gap between myself and the first of my three younger siblings, but I suddenly realised, or rather, understood, just how much I had to learn still.
I am incredibly thankful for the parental leave provisions available which mean that I am able to be at home learning how to adult, bonding with Audrey, helping Mrs. C21 recover from giving birth and being able to be here to help Mrs. C21 cope with learning how to be a mother. I could not imagine having to back to work and teach on Monday, leaving a tired and stressed wife and new mother alone. Whilst the midwives in our hospital were, overall, fantastic, it is my job (I believe) to be there to shoulder my share of the burden of raising this new child.
It has changed my relationship with my students as well. This term has been a tough one with a lot going on in the Stage and I had felt like I was trying to swim against the tide for the last few weeks. When I got the call to go to the hospital, my class went bonkers. I cannot think of any other way of putting it.
I headed to school this morning for a meeting and was spotted by some of my students who, again, went bonkers. The teacher who is taking my class while I am on leave is actually someone I completed my initial teacher education with. This afternoon, having seen both her and some of my students while at school this meeting, she sent me a photo of some of the work my students had completed this afternoon; some acrostic poems with either Audrey, New Life, Awesome Dad or Congrats as the spine which both Mrs. C21 and I found incredibly touching.
It would be very easy to completely spam my social media accounts with photos of Audrey as Mrs. C21 and I have taken a crazy amount of photos, and we did post a few photos over the first few days. Mrs. C21 and I had a number of conversations about that topic during the pregnancy, however, and how many photos and what type of photos we were going to post in the public domain and came to a decision to limit what we would post. There are a few reasons for this, but the primary reason is out of respect for Audrey’s privacy. We are taking a bucketload of photos but are only posting a select few and are storing the rest to allow Audrey to make a decision when she is old enough to understand, whether she wants the photos of her naked for her first bath, or the birth itself and any number of other photos that we have taken and will take over the years to capture various moments.
That is all I have time for at the moment, as Audrey is asking for cuddles from Daddy. I understand more, now, why my dad was so anxious, and worried about every noise and movement my younger brother made…or did not make for that matter. Thank you for reading this marginally coherent and organised article.