I’m a father.
I’m still getting used to saying that. Over the course of my life I’ve called myself many things. Musician, writer, photographer, fanboy, husband and human being. But father? Never that. At least, not until recently.
My wife put up with my misgivings about having a baby for a number of years. It took a lot of soul-searching and self-analysis to find a way to tell her why I wasn’t ready to have a child in a way she would understand and accept. I was afraid of losing my independence and self-sufficiency. I was afraid of losing control of my life as I knew it and losing the relationship with my wife. I liked things the way they were, and as the saying goes, having a baby changes everything.
She begrudgingly accepted my reasoning, but I could still hear her biological clock ticking away with maternal desire. Time passed by as it always does, and as our marriage developed I found myself realizing the only thing missing in our marriage was a child. We set about to make that happen, and were fortunate enough to become pregnant after just a couple of tries.
The pregnancy was a whirlwind of hormones and emotions. I have a feeling the term “emotional roller coaster” was coined by the responsible male half of the pregnancy equation. We made it through those 10 long months, and wound up in an operating room to have a c-section after 48 hours of labor with no real progression.
Sitting there in the OR next to my wife, decked out in disposable scrubs, I couldn’t help but feel like the hourglass of my pre-fatherhood life was dwindling down to the last few grains of sand. I looked into my wife’s eyes, trying to grasp the reality of what was about to happen.
The doctor asked for a scalpel. For a few moments, it was just my wife and I in the room. The noise of the equipment and the murmur of the doctors and nurses around us faded away to the background. There was an excited gasp, and then my daughter cried out for the first time.
I closed my eyes and squeezed my wife’s shoulders, unable to stop the tears because I finally understood.
When you become a father it’s not about what you lose. It’s how everything you have changes. All my fears disappeared the instant I heard her cry, because I knew from that moment forward I was responsible for this child. Worry changes into determination. Fear morphs into love. Apprehension into perseverance. Self-doubt gives way to instinct.
After the doctors cleaned my daughter, I got up from my seat next to my wife and went to see her. They handed her to me and I carried her over to my wife, holding her up so she could see her daughter while still on the operating table. I felt the world change around me. As it turns out, I’m not so adverse to change as I thought.
I’m a father. I think I can get used to saying that.
—Photo Karen Sheets/Flickr