In honor of Father’s Day, I asked four new dads about their experiences. Here’s what they shared about the intimate moments, the game-changers, and the little things that make them glad to be fathering.
Jacob, Wildlife Biologist
Father of Rowan, 5 months
On becoming a father:
My strongest memory of becoming a father was when I held Jennifer from behind the birthing stool as she delivered Rowan. When he came out he was covered in blood and vernix. Very cheesy, as the midwife said. I remember holding Jennifer so tight and hearing Rowan let out very soft grunt so I knew he was breathing and okay. That first family moment was so emotional and lovely.
How fatherhood has changed me:
My respect and love for my wife has grown tremendously. I think less about myself and more about my wife and boy.
We have father-son shower time. We also love to go outside together on walks, hikes, camping, and birding trips. Whenever he is upset, going outside is almost always the answer. We also love to laugh together as I make silly sounds and faces.
I was surprised at how particular babies can be. Rowan sometimes wants to be held, “but not THAT way!” Rocking in the swing is no good. Rocking in Jennifer’s or my arms, very good or vice versa.
When I get home from work, Jennifer always lets me take the wee and hold him for as long as I want. Sometimes at dinner I will have him on my leg and she will offer to hold him while I eat but I usually decline. She knows that I have been missing the little fella all day, and just want to interact with him for a while. Jennifer also suggests that we do things together like wading in a river, hiking, or lying on a blanket in the grass where we can get out of the house and have new experiences together.
I really got it when I was making Filipino stir fry with one hand and holding a baby (away from the food and stove top) with the other. I was singing Rowan some songs and thought, “I’m doing iiiiiiit!” It was a good moment.
Father of Seay and Wyatt ages 2 & 1, expecting #3
I remember the day I found out I was going to be a father and that feeling of shock and excitement, but also fear and anticipation. My world shook and slowly over the next two years with the addition of one and finding out just recently that we are pregnant with another that I slowly learned about myself, my spouse, and understanding unconditional love. The world to this day has still not stopped shaking as I constantly feel like the terrain under my feet is changing around me.
I am 28 years old, and I promise you I never thought I would get so excited over another human being bringing me his shoes or telling me, “bless you” when I sneezed.
An ‘aha!’ moment in fathering:
Father of an 11 month old daughter
On becoming a father
The night I helped birth my daughter…there was a deep connection with my wife in one of the most intimate moment of our lives. I had the privilege of delivering my daughter with midwife assistance. The awe of the fullness of my responsibilities settled in over the next week. I was entrusted by my daughter to care for her before she could care for herself. To walk with her for the decades to come through the ups and downs with the promise of standing by her and sharing what I know, yet not doing for her. For sharing what I have learned with the knowledge that, while I am very important person in her life, I am not the only one nor will I always be the most important. It is humbling.
How fatherhood has changed me
It has softened me and hardened me at the same time. Softer in that I have more emotions than I thought and it has given me more patience than I thought. It has hardened me because I have less tolerance for wasted time. Every moment with my daughter and wife are precious. “It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a lot of healthy marriages to make a village” is a favorite quote of mine. It reminds me that the relationship with my wife is important as she will be with me long after my daughter has found her husband. It also reinforces the importance of connections with others and that internet research is a poor substitute for the fabric of personal relationships with friends and family.
I connect with her by being there and spending time with her. What I do is less important than connecting. I ask her lots of open ended questions, help explain the world around her and generally just share positiveness with her.
Nothing can fully prepare you for what you are about to embark upon, and you are more prepared than you know.
She encourages me to be an active part of raising our daughter and to share what I have to offer. She encourages me to be me and to try. Being a father is natural, awkward and sometimes both at the same time. Like any other skill it takes practice. She reminds me to not be so serious and encourages me–I really appreciate that. The importance of maintaining the connection with my wife cannot be understated.
Late one night when she was only a few weeks old I was cradling her in my arms. I had been pacing with her quietly humming and she was cuddled and warm in my arms, let out a deep happy sigh and just hung heavy and warm over my arm. It was a humbling, human moment to realize I literally helped create her and would shape her. That and the moment when, at 10 months, she reached up for me to pick her up and gave me an strong unprompted hug.
Student Life Counselor
Father of a 2-year old daughter
On becoming a father:
My strongest memory is the day my daughter was born. Watching my wife give birth and to see my daughter for the first time was one of the best moments in my life.
How fatherhood has changed me:
My responsibility changed immediately. I have to think about every decision I make now because it’s not just about me anymore.
I spend time with her everyday. From the time I wake up to the time I go to work. Whether its reading, playing with toys, watching tv, etc.
Just watching her and how she interacts with our daughter on a daily basis. She takes the good with the bad and it doesn’t effect the way she is parenting. Its a joy to watch her in action with our daughter. It makes my job that much easier just sitting back and learning some of the things she is doing
I don’t have a specific time. But anytime my wife is at work and I have my daughter it makes me feel like a dad. When I have to run errands and it’s just the two of us I know that I will have my hands full but I love every minute of it!