Fatherhood starts on a weird note. Mother and child rightly steal the show when it comes to childbirth. But there is also a perspective we hear from much less often. Many websites take choice snippets from fathers and try and sugarcoat the experience, so I got in touch with some friends from my military days (as veterans are well known for their brutal honesty) and asked them about the real emotional rollercoaster that is becoming a father. Some were very happy to tell their story, others were stereotypically blunt. All of them, however, repeatedly expressed the love and satisfaction they feel in their new position in life.
United States Marine, Age 29
“I remember with my son we didn’t know what we were having. My wife wanted to be surprised. When he was born I was standing right there when he came out, I just remember shouting “He’s got balls!” I was pretty stoked about that. The whole process is just an adventure in nervousness, especially the last moments leading to them coming out. But then it’s just excitement afterward. All in all a very horrific experience, that feeling of helplessness. But everything afterward more than makes up for it. It sure didn’t stop us from creating our baby girl shortly after.”
United States Marine, Age 32
De Kalb, Texas
“The childbirth process involves a lot more poop than you would think. But that’s just my two cents. On a more serious note; I did not realize you could love something that much, that fast until they put my little girl in my arms for the first time. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten up, dressed, out the door as fast as when my wife woke me up and said ‘I think my water just broke’.”
United States Army, Age 26
San Francisco, California
“Fatherhood has already been a wild ride. Seeing the baby for the first time was something you just can’t forget. My wife was so happy and so emotional it really affected me. You could see the love she already felt for that little girl. It was the first moment I really felt I had a family of my own.”
United States Marine, Age 29
“When I found out my girlfriend was pregnant, I was not excited, to say the least. I was a full-time student and she was a high school math teacher. How would we manage a child? I did not believe that we had the time or money to take on the responsibility of that magnitude. A few months into it, I finally warmed up to the idea and accepted that it was going to happen.
I’ll never forget the morning she went into labor. I was awoken by an agonizing scream at 5 a.m. She called the doctor and they told her to wait to come in. She did and went to work. Throughout the day I was getting calls and texts of her telling me how much pain she was in. She called again and the hospital told her that she sounded fine and to just suck it up. She only sounded fine because she was keeping her cool in front of her students and didn’t want to panic them.
After work, we went to her final OBGYN appointment. She was 4 cm dilated at that point. We were told that this was it and we should go to the hospital.
At about 10 p.m. she started to push. I was just sitting there. I was told to not be down by her who-ha! Nothing was happening. Our son was not coming out. He was stuck. This lasted for several hours into the very early morning. Finally, the delivering doctor came back in and told us that she was going to need an emergency C section. and by 8 a.m. the nurses came in and rolled her away. They tossed me a full-body gown, hat, mask, and told me to suit up. I was not prepared for what was about to happen next.
Once everyone was gone, I was all alone. Alone with my thoughts. Suddenly, I became overwhelmed with just about every emotion there was: sadness, joy, excitement, nervousness, anxiousness, fear, and uncertainty. It was all very overwhelming. This eternity of worry really probably only lasted about 20 minutes before a nurse came to get me.
I saw her laying on a bed with a big blue curtain up by her head and doctors operating on her stomach. I was instructed to sit by her head on a stool and proceeded to hold her hand. She was quite drugged up at this point.
A few minutes later I hear my son crying! The doctors said “Here he is dad! Go ahead and stand up” I stood up, saw my son being held by a doctor, then a great view of my girlfriend’s insides.
I started to walk over to the cleaning station where my son was. I didn’t get further than two or three steps before the nurse asks “are you okay?”. I tell her “yes” then ask “why? Do I not look okay?” They told me “NO” and instructed me to sit back down and put my head between my legs. They brought me apple juice and told me that my face had turned green.
I never got to cut the umbilical cord, but once I regained some blood in my face, my son was brought over to me. I held him. Suddenly, all those feelings I had before were gone. I talked to him and told him that it was okay.
We spent the next 5 days in the hospital so she could recover. It was great! Not only were we able to sleep, but we also had nurses there to help us, show us what to do, and had room service. I enjoyed it.
My son, whose name is Austin, is now 2.5 years old. There have been many learning lessons and curves (this whole parenting thing is a learning curve and I feel like I’m behind all the time lol). This past June he was diagnosed with autism, which is another whole thing that we have to adjust to, not just our parenting style, but our dreams and aspirations for him as well. We take it day by day and advocate for him to the fullest. He is now getting services daily which has improved many areas that he lacks, such as eye contact and speech.
I love being a dad. I pride myself on how great of a dad I actually am AND turned out to be. He’s my world and I love him so much.”
If you’re a dad reading this, what are your experiences with birth and fatherhood? Share them with us!