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The thoughts of a first-time father-to-be
The Thoughts Of A First-Time Father-To-Be
By Tumisho Masha
Our little girl is due in the middle of July, and the most surprising fact I’ve learnt on my journey to being a dad is that until she’s here with us, I am merely playing a supporting role. There’s so much I would love to do in terms of helping to carry the load and making her mom more comfortable, but it’s frustrating to realise that I can’t – that all I can do is play my supporting role as best I can.
As a father-to-be, I am learning that it is not always easy to practically be an outsider looking in, however I have to be available and present to assist when I’m needed. For dad, pregnancy is a time to learn to be available for mommy and baby and to practice for the arrival of this new precious life. My wife, Zozi, has been outstanding as an expectant mother in helping me to grow as a father-to-be, by keeping me involved in every milestone and at every step of the way of our baby’s development – by making me an integral part of her and baby’s journey.
I’ve learnt a lot over the past eight months about pregnancy and what it takes to bring a new person into this world, and have acquired a newfound respect for pregnant women. I think the toughest thing on a man’s journey to fatherhood is to give support to your partner and be empathetic to their experience… although you will never be able to really relieve them by being pregnant on their behalf, not even for a moment. I’ve learnt to truly respect the power of women and their strength to be able to literally carry life to term.
There’s nothing that can actually prepare you for fatherhood, but I think it is important for every man to ask as many questions as possible from those who have gone before him on this journey. Also try to find the right literature that can support your quest in discovering what being a father is really all about. I realised that the more I prepared for my daughter’s arrival by immersing myself in as much literature and real life experiences of other men as I could, the less anxious I felt. But, like the best experiences in life, you can never completely know what your personal experience is going to actually be like until you live it in the moment. I don’t think something as important as fatherhood can be undertaken without preparation, but a man has to be prepared to be in the moment when it happens and understand that you will have to sharpen your ability to improvise.
Midway through the pregnancy, we found out that we are having a little girl. It helped me and my wife prepare accordingly for her arrival, although I believe we had a hunch that it was always going to be a little girl from the moment we found out that Zozi was pregnant.
One of the major challenges for me about being a dad has always been to find the time in my schedule to be there for all the visits to the doctor and be physically present for every milestone of our baby’s development. The days of fathers being absent from our children’s lives from day one are long behind us and I believe that a father’s role has to cover more than just being a material provider, but to also being a present factor in the lives of our children. I am fortunate enough to have grown up with a present and committed father in my life and it’s something I have always wanted to give to my own children. I am realising now though, that not only is this the toughest aspect of being a good father, but also the most important gift a father can give to his children.
Having a baby is a life-changing experience and it is something that has impacted on every facet of my life, but I am fortunate to have been blessed with a career that is flexible enough to absorb the impact of having a baby. If anything, the greatest impact on my career is realising that it has only acquired real meaning by me having a precious new life in my world.