by Lindsey Staples
UPK Teacher's Assistant
Heritage House Childcare & Learning Center
June 2011 - Exhausted after a long day, feet aching from carrying more of life’s weight, and eyelids heavy with the sandman’s dust, I crawl into my bed as my husband pulls the covers around me. Shivering, I wait for my body to absorb the coolness of the blankets as his warm kiss melts on my forehead. Behind closed eyes, I can hear him shuffle to his side of the bed. His bedside lamp is still on. “I’m excited to read my book,” he says. I squint one eye open and smirk at him. My husband is not exactly an avid reader. At twenty-nine years old, his favorite book series is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In his hands he holds Peter Downey’s So You’re Going to Be a Dad, a book he found on a store’s shelves while waiting for me to try on maternity clothes. “You too tired, or is it okay if I read to you and Eeyore?” My smirk extends into a genuine smile pushing both my eyes awake. “Really?” I say as I lift my head from the pillow. “Mhmm,” he smiles. He moves one hand beneath the blankets searching for my belly. I place my hand over his and together we hold the bump containing the little life we affectionately call Eeyore. I laugh to myself as my husband skips the preface and begins reading at chapter one. “You know that’s like ordering a hamburger and not eating the bun.” “What?” He shoots me a confused look. “Never mind,” I smile and listen as his soft voice captures a humorous perspective on life as a new father. We laugh ourselves to sleep.
In the fifth month of my first pregnancy, I have been beyond blessed to have so many wonderful moments like this one with my husband. And I must say, he has been so engaged, nurturing, and supportive long before reading any expectant father books. As I said, this is my first pregnancy, and although I am only half way through, I became a mommy the moment I knew a little life was growing inside me. Together, my husband and I planned for a child long before we conceived, and we have been in constant and open communication since this baby—as my parents would say—was just a twinkle in our eyes. My husband was right by my side in the bathroom waiting the three minutes for two little pink lines to confirm what I already instinctively knew deep inside my own body and soul. I had wondered, however, was that the moment he felt like a daddy?
Just as the moment is different for a woman becoming a mother, the moment a man becomes a father is different for each man. For many fathers, it is not until well into the baby’s life, long after the infancy stage has been absorbed into the new daily life of a dad, that a man can claim his new title as daddy. For other new fathers, seeing is believing. Fatherhood becomes real when this moving, breathing creature is tangible to them—and that includes not only touching and holding the baby but also hearing those incessant cries and smelling those repulsive diapers. Yes, for some men, then it is real.
From the first moment I knew my life was going to be on a continual ride of change, I wanted my husband to be right next to me on that ride too. Already I have felt and experienced so many physical, mental, and emotional changes that he will never truly empathize with, and I have already made such an indescribable connection with our baby that I want so badly for him to share. Therefore, I make sure to include him in everything possible, and I encourage every new and already experienced mommy and daddy to do the same. As I have already mentioned, open and constant communication is so important for both the mommy and the daddy. For a woman to share all her experiences of pregnancy with her significant other not only allows her to vent about what she is going through, but it also allows the father to be included in the whole process of the pregnancy, the beginning moments of a baby’s life. It is also important for daddies to share all their fears and concerns with their significant others about parenthood and all the stages of the pregnancy. Mothers are most likely already experiences these same fears and concerns.
Whether it is a quick check-up or a significant sonogram captured on an ultrasound, my husband has also been to every doctor’s appointment with me. For him, seeing the black and white image of the perfect little profile of a baby’s face and nose, watching the tiny movements of the hands and feet, and seeing the heartbeat flicker like a firefly was the moment it became his baby, our baby. Not only does he read to Eeyore and me each night, he also kisses my belly each morning before he leaves for work. “I love you” has become “I love you both.” These significant actions have created an interweaving, rippling effect. I know my husband is developing a closer connection with our baby as I already have, and in turn this allows me to feel more connected to him. As we are learning more about ourselves through these changes, we are also learning more about each other.
“The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” With all his involvement, support, and nurturing, my husband could not better exemplify these words. To me, he already is the most amazing father I could ask for our baby… and we are only half way through this pregnancy. We both are falling so in love with our baby even before first sight. I can barely begin to imagine the way our love will grow for our baby and each other when the leaves change color this fall.
Happy First Father’s Day, Matt. Eeyore and I love you.