Nothing beats that newborn baby feeling, does it?
Analysing every inch of your baby’s body from the first moment you cradle them in your arms; the tiniest little perfect fingers, the slightly squashed-up facial features, skinny little legs.
Holding them in your arms, and holding their gaze as they focus intently on your face. That stare!
The unmistakable wail of a crying newborn baby; needy, desperate, but alive.
Being able to hold them in the palms of your hand. Or along the length of a man’s arm.
Cotton wool, top and tail baths, baby lotion, umbilical cord stumps, yellow poo.
Spending half an hour trying to bring up wind.
A fountain of wee in the middle of a nappy change.
The smell of their scalp, their hair.
Cuddles. Lots and lots of cuddles!
Tiny little clothes that still look too big, and are impossible to dress onto skinny little froggy legs!
Little grunts, whimpers and cries in their sleep.
Windy smiles, but smiles nonetheless. A glimpse of what’s to come
Calming down when they hear your voice.
An unconditional and overwhelming feeling of love and joy, and a relentless cycle of nurturing and cherishing.
It’s over far too soon, so enjoy it while it lasts!
On December 30th 2013 i became a dad for the second time, and all those wonderful feelings and emotions came flooding right back to me.
The build-up to baby number two always felt a bit different, as I’ve written about before. “Second Pregnancy Syndrome” I called it. But as soon as Christmas was out of the way, we knew it was only a matter of time before a newborn baby was in our arms once again, and so the excitement built. And built.
And then BAM! Contractions started on December 30th very early in the morning, and the marathon of childbirth was starting again. This time we knew exactly what was coming, which threw nerves into the mix. But obviously the overwhelming emotion was just pure excitement.
I’d forgotten most of the emotions I felt first time round. I remember crying like a baby when Caitlin was delivered, but as for the feelings during the labour, and even during the newborn phase – it’s all just a blur!
So this time around I was determined to take it all in and appreciate it for the life-changing moment that it is. I don’t think men really appreciate how much a new baby changes your life until labour begins. I certainly didn’t. My honest feeling was that I’d done it before, dealt with it, and this time would be fairly straightforward. Not the case! Once again I was an emotional mess!
It’s a phrase I’ve heard many times before, “Every pregnancy and every labour is different“. But now I can safely say that the second time around, everything was different.
It escalated very quickly and the actual labour came around faster than I remember. The tide of emotion I felt during the first delivery was replaced with concern for my wife this time around, because I could see how much pain she was in, and it was horrible to watch. Because of how quickly the “serious” contractions turned into full-on labour, an epidural was out of the question; it would’ve taken too long to set up and then kick in, and the midwife seriously expected the baby to be here by then. So she had to make do with gas and air, which did nothing more than take a bit of the edge off the pain.
Watching my life partner go through such grueling agony – and being powerless to do anything about it – was one of the most upsetting experiences of my life.
“I can’t do it!!” she’d cry, covered in sweat.
“I know it bloody hurts like hell,” I said, “but you need to focus on pushing this pain away for good. You can do it!”
With each encouraging pep talk she let out a fierce groan of pain, and push even more. I think I helped her. I hope I did. It was only words after all, but it was all I had.
I really don’t know how she did it, but she did. There was no energy left in the tank but somehow she’d managed to push a baby into the world through the most intense of pain barriers. So this time, as soon as baby let out its first cry my immediate concern was for my ailing wife, and helping her through this horrible experience.
You’re never really told about the after-birth part of labour, and you certainly don’t see it in films. That’s because it’s not pretty! The pain immediately post-delivery is awful and there’s a lot of blood. Sorry to those of you who are expecting for the first time, and want a nice picture painting – it ain’t nice!
The feeling of helplessness is one of the worst I’ve felt. As a partner you’re meant to be the rock of strength and support, but all you can offer at this time is words. I was no help at all for the pain she was going through, and there was no way I could take it away. Trust me if there was, I’d happily swap. Instead I was forced to watch the agony of a loved one with no means to make it better. For a man, that’s hard.
Contrast those feelings of heartache and frustration with the sheer pride of holding your newborn baby for the first time! Wow, what a feeling! You spend ages analysing the details; the eyes, the chin, the nose, the fingers and toes. Every bit perfect!
The pros far outweigh the cons having a child. That’s why we keep putting ourselves through it, right? But right now, I’m not sure I could watch my wife go through it again. Women say its easy for us guys; it’s not. It’s a horribly emotional experience. But I’m SO proud of that woman. I’ve got a new-found respect for her tenacity and strength because I really don’t know if I could go through that.
But I’m sure all she has to do is take one look at our beautiful baby, and the pain is a distant memory!