This is a short article my husband wrote on his experience with becoming a father for the first time. 

When you really think about it, no one ever really talks about what the whole experience of becoming a father for the first time is like. Sure, at some point in your life there will probably be a well meaning fellow or fifteen who will tell you that it’s wonderful or that they breezed through it like it was nothing. All with the caveat that your mileage may vary. I learned the hard way how much variance was actually involved in that mileage.

From the beginning, it was a complete surprise. Neither me or my wife were actively pursuing the idea of parenthood. In actual fact there were some factors that would have made it difficult; if not impossible, for us to conceive. So when I got the message that the test had come back positive, my first reaction was that it was a false positive. It’s only when multiple tests came back with the same result that it dawned on me that this was real. And even then this was hard to come to grips with. This is basically a declaration that your life as you know it is done; should you choose to continue, and you are expected to make an ‘all in’ decision right there and then.


Even after we chose to keep it, the days immediately following the decision were a weird cocktail of manic excitement, trepidation and self doubt. And just when you think that you finally have a grip on the situation after a couple of visits to the OB/GYN, the hyperemesis hits. In hindsight apparently this was a common occurrence in my wife’s family, but at the time it felt like we were the only ones in the world inflicted with this. At the time I thought that this was the most traumatic time in my life. I would spend day after day watching her being unable to keep any food down, eventually only subsisting on sugary drinks like a human hummingbird. Everyday I would be worried that I would get the call that something might have happened to her or the child due to this.

One emergency hospitalisation and two glucose drip treatments later, we reached the second trimester and for those few months everything seemed fine. Foetus was healthy and my wife was able to keep down some solid food. Everything looked like it was going to be okay and I would be cruising into parenthood battered, but unbroken.


Then at 5 am on the 26th of February 2016, it all fell apart. I was woken up by my wife telling me that she has been in pain for the last few hours and to drive her to the hospital. Not overly sure how we got there, but we did and the nurse did a routine measurement of her vitals and calmly stated that she’s probably having contractions. Both of us thought she was joking. It was 6 weeks before she was scheduled to deliver. More measurements and some more prodding and poking and the nurse made the call to contact her doctor and admit us for delivery. The only thing going through my mind was how impossible this situation was.

Her doctor arrived within 30 minutes and did his own examination of the situation. He then declared that the child was in breech position and she would be born one way or the other within the hour and he was recommending emergency C-section. I won’t bore you with the mechanics of what happened immediately after (you can read all about that here), because 6 months later it all still feels surreal. But try to imagine all the stress of being told you were going to be a father, add to that all the stress that I felt during the 3 months of hyperemesis and multiplying that by some ridiculous factor, and it would probably only barely come close.


[28/02/2016]

Being in the operating theatre knowing that at any moment either your wife or your child could die. Watching the surgeon cut her open and move her organs around to extract a tiny human. Feeling relieved that said human started crying almost immediately. Followed by days of worrying that something might be wrong with the child because of the extremely premature birth. In all honesty, I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop. For some overpaid specialist to tell me that she is in someway defective.

But for all that, every time I look at her I am irrationally happy. Whenever she smiles at me; even though I know it’s probably more her mirroring our own behavior, my world just brightens. That she’s healthy and surpassing nearly all the milestones for babies makes me wonder how much good karma I’ve actually amassed in my life. The fact that her mother has taken to motherhood seamlessly and is excelling at it despite her own reservations at ever becoming a mother. This child has beaten some long odds and is currently making our lives better and brighter every day.


[01/09/2016]

So yes, this is what becoming a father was like for me. Your own mileage may vary.

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