It was late afternoon and my wife and I were at the mall doing some shopping. Milly experienced a sharp, uncomfortable pain in her stomach, but she brushed it off and we continued with our shopping. The pain came around again, so this time we quickly finished off our shopping and rushed to the doctor. A simple pregnancy test later and it was confirmed, she was pregnant – we were expecting a baby! A permeating excitement reduced me to tears. This was it – we were going to be parents.
Primed for parenting
Along with the pregnancy came all sorts of questions: Is our home big enough? Should we move? Do we have enough money? What school will our child go to? And then the future also came into focus and I couldn’t help but notice all the investment banking and life insurance ads on the TV, radio and internet.
Mixed in with my own thoughts of excitement and ‘How are we actually going to do this?’ was the constant echo of a million voices, telling us the ins and outs, what to do and what not to do, how our life was about to change and how sleep will become a thing of the past. While the information was pervasive, I sponged up as much of it as I could, and also turned my bookshelf of impressive well-known authors into a shrine of baby and parenting education and self-help books. It’s a whole new world of excitement and learning… which I gladly accepted!
The pregnancy journey went faster than I thought it would. With roughly nine months to kit out a nursery, stock up on supplies and switch from being the go-with-the-flow couple to parenting experts, we simultaneously watched our little miracle grow from the size of a poppy seed to that of a watermelon.
As prepared as we were, reality only hit the moment that precious life came into the world. Everything slowed down and I can recall every sound and every emotion that ran through me in that surreal moment of pure happiness.
To say I view the world in a different way is an understatement. It is no longer just the two of us; there are now three and this tiny human has taken centre stage. A trip to the shops takes practise: we quickly learnt the art of packing a nappy bag without forgetting something, looking for a parking bay closest to the entrance, and ensuring we ‘trolley dashed’ our way through the shops, at least in the beginning. Getting the hang of things, we started to venture out further for longer. One thing I noticed is that I’m no longer quick to judge the parents in public with the screaming children – I look at them in a completely different way; almost with a sense of respect.
Instead of looking for a new lounge suite or a fancy coffee machine, we find ourselves attracted to baby stores and actually enjoy looking at all the baby goods. It’s cool spending a few hundred rand on a baby-wearing wrap for my wife (and myself – baby wearing for dads is a trend right now). I also quickly became “that guy” – I talk about my baby and scroll through hundreds of pictures on my phone, showing everyone… even those who didn’t ask. My baby is my pride and joy – why wouldn’t everyone want to see, right?
Through the baby goggles
Our circle of friends has grown, thanks to our baby. A night out with the boys has become an afternoon at the game… while the moms get together during baby playdates. There’s nothing amiss with being home by 6 PM to bath the baby and take on “Daddy Duty”.
The way I view my wife has changed in a way I never expected. Her dedication and selflessness to this new little life is a beautiful thing to watch. I’m honoured to be on this journey with such a devoted partner and love the fact that it’s a parenting collaboration where we discuss everything.
Parenthood is extremely rewarding. Yes, some days will be long and the nights even longer, dinner will probably only be eaten after 8 PM, and you are more than likely going to come across situations that no one mentioned, but it’s okay. What I have come to understand is that as much as I am learning how to be a parent, my baby is adapting to being in the outside world.
My advice? Take it easy. Enjoy the happy mornings and stay calm through the cranky afternoons, listen to your parenting instincts, and support one another. For some this can be a challenging time; for others, it’s a walk in the park. Also, never compare your child or parenting situation to that of someone else’s; we are all different and that is the beauty of parenting. Above all this, I have learned to love like I never thought possible.