Rookie dad

This is an article i have written for War Cry magazine ahead of Father’s Day a week on Sunday.

‘Next week I celebrate my first Father’s Day as a dad to my lovely little boy Jacob. I’m excited to celebrate it but, so far, being a dad has not been how I envisaged. Far from it!

I had expectations about a natural birth, but my wife needed an induction. I thought that would be straightforward, but it didn’t work well. So, we would be having a caesarean section. That’s fine, I said to myself, women have them all the time and it’s fairly routine.

It was anything but routine. Jacob went into fetal distress and his heart stopped. My wife was rushed to the main hospital theatre where she underwent an emergency caesarean section. On the way to the theatre, I was told to prepare myself for the worst.

I certainly did not expect to be standing in a corridor outside a hospital operating theatre, not knowing if my son would safely arrive in the world.

I was utterly terrified. I wept and prayed. ‘Why is this happening? This is not what I expected … I don’t understand, God … what is going on?’

Blessedly, Jacob was delivered safely, in better shape than the doctors envisaged he would be, and my wife was safe too. I spent the next few hours looking at my newborn son through an incubator as he slowly adjusted to the world and I slowly adjusted to being a dad.

This is when you feel unashamed happiness and joy, surely? You have this magical first meeting with your child and everything makes sense right? Right?

Well, I felt nothing but sheer relief, mixed with exhaustion and a sense that I was completely out of my depth. Welcome to parenthood!

These past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions: one day is great, the next is difficult. Plans go out the window as you simply focus on the next day, or more usually, the next hour.

As a new dad, I have come to realise that all the books I read on childbirth and parenting and all the ‘advice’ didn’t come close to portraying the reality. And they certainly don’t describe the methods employed to get your son to sleep (picture a man in a dressing gown, singing and dancing away in his lounge late at night, while making faces and jiggling a cuddly toy tiger).

In spite of our early troubles, my wife and I are beginning to embrace being parents and love having Jacob in our lives.  We are both so thankful to God that we have our beautiful son and we are so grateful for the amazing support and prayer we have received.

Overall, I have learnt to let go of all my expectations and to trust God to see us through each day. As I have done this, I find each day is more enjoyable and manageable than the day before and I learn to treasure more my beautiful and precious son who is a real gift from God.

I love being a dad, it’s completely changed me. It’s been tougher than I thought but at the same time is the best feeling in the world.

So, from a novice, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads, new and old. I pray you get to enjoy a well deserved lie-in next Sunday.’