We often hear what it’s like to have a baby from a mum’s point of view, but not so much from the dad's. We think it’s about time dads got more airtime! Dads play such a massive role in parenting nowadays – their role has arguably changed more than mums in the last decade or so. And we think it’s important to hear it from their point of view. Yeah, mums do A LOT but so do dads. We invited the dads to have their say, without their partners being there 😉 , and tell us what becoming a dad for the first time has really been like for them.
What's it like becoming a Dad for the first time?
Becoming a dad for Will was surreal and amazing. He had heard lots of stories of dads crying at the birth of their child and never for one moment thought that would be him – it was! The emotion hit him like a brick wall when he was handed his baby. He remembers how he worried about holding the baby, something a lots of parents can relate to.
Steven said nothing can prepare you for the feelings you experience when you become a dad. Although he was unprepared for what he felt, he bonded with baby Leo as soon as he was handed him. Before that he was fearful of holding his baby in case he hurt him or even dropped him! He assured us that this hasn’t happened so far. The next scary stage was bringing Leo home from the hospital. He remembers looking at him in his car seat and feeling the dawn of reality that this baby would be his responsibility forever. He felt petrified!
When Tony became a dad he found it was completely life-changing with a crazy rush of emotions. Up to the point of becoming a dad he had always avoided holding anyone’s baby and of course when it’s your own you can’t avoid it. After the birth his wife was rushed off for emergency treatment while Tony was left to hold his new baby on his own – a completely terrifying moment for him. He remembers driving home from the hospital feeling the fear of responsibility about becoming a dad.
Gavin told us his wife bought him a book about becoming a parent and asked him to read it before the birth of his daughter. He said he had always felt awkward holding a baby before he held his own. Suddenly feeling awkward changed to feeling comfortable.
Kyle was a very young dad and found it more of a challenge. He stayed away from books and Google leading up to the birth and decided to take the ‘winging it’ approach. He admits he felt on his own with the responsibility of becoming a dad. Yet despite finding it difficult at first, he said he wouldn’t change it for the world.
Questions included: How was it becoming a dad for the first time? Did you do any research beforehand? How did you feel when you first got back from the hospital? Did you bond with your baby straight away? Were you prepared for the feelings you felt?
Did having a baby change your relationship?
Tony found that having a baby changed his relationship completely and brought him and his partner closer together. Going through exactly the same life changing experience as her and becoming a family as a result he says has been incredible.
Gavin revealed that he and his wife Devon experienced the loss of their first baby at full term a year before the birth of their daughter Wren. This terrible and traumatic experience had brought them closer together and having Wren since has made their relationship even more special.
Steven and his wife Charlene had also lost a baby the year before the birth of Leo and the grief had put their relationship under enormous strain. Getting pregnant again with Leo brought them closer together and since his birth they have been stronger than ever. Like Gavin, Steven feels his relationship is even more precious after the tragic loss of their first born.
Have you got equal roles as parents?
The dads acknowledge it’s hard for both of them; hard that they have to go to work all day and hard their partners miss out on the social life that comes from working. They realise that even though mums can go to baby clubs it’s still an isolating experience being a new mum.
One of the dads joked his partner is definitely the boss. She tells him what to do and has a sixth sense when it comes to guessing what their baby wants. He’s happy to admit she knows best.
Do you sympathise with how much work Mum has to do?
The dads all fully sympathise with how hard it is being a mum with a new baby. One dad said it’s much harder than doing a 10 hour shift at work. Another said before he became a dad he used to think anyone describing themselves as a ‘full time mummy’ in their bio was lazy, Now he realises it is actually a full-time job! In fact, all the dads agreed you don’t actually appreciate how hard it is being a mum until you try looking after the baby yourself. You then realise it’s almost impossible to get anything else done.
How are you dealing with the lack of sleep?
The dads all fully sympathise with how hard it is being a mum with a new baby. One dad said it’s much harder than doing a 10 hour shift at work. Another said before he became a dad he used to think anyone describing themselves as a ‘full time mummy’ in their bio was lazy. Now he realises it is actually a full-time job! In fact, all the dads agreed you don’t actually appreciate how hard it is being a mum until you try looking after the baby yourself. Then you realise it’s almost impossible to get anything else done.
Is there enough support for Dads?
Tony thought it would have been more mum focused than it was and was surprised the health professionals involved him at all. There were some occasions when he felt a little out , but he expected this would be more than it was.
Although Kyle was happy to find out his partner was pregnant it affected him mentally and he had to take some time off work to deal with it. The increase in mental health awareness is a s increasing is a good thing his and his partner went to a hospital that offered private rooms for the birth and this made him feel included. They were treated as a family, instead of the focus being on mum and baby.
What's it like going back to work after the birth?
Going back to work a couple of weeks after the birth is the norm for most dads. For most dads the alternative is not financially viable and some dads like Steven don’t receive a penny during paternity leave. To qualify for statutory paternity pay you have to work for a company for 26 continuous weeks before the birth. In Steven’s case he had just missed out.
Going back to work is not easy for dads. Gavin talks about how horrible it is leaving his wife and daughter every morning, but he knows he has to do it to put food on the table. The highlight of his day is coming back home to them in the evening – seeing his daughter again always makes his day.
The dads also recognise how hard it is on their partners being left at home all day, every day. Anyone having to look after a baby for a full day would know this. In fact, some dads find it even harder than the mums to look after the baby all day because they aren’t used to it. They all agree an eight hour day with a baby is a long, long day. Knowing what every cry means and what baby wants is a learned skill that comes from lots of practise – something that mums on maternity leave get bags of!
As Tony says, whether you are out at work all day or looking after a baby all day, it’s important to make some time for yourself at the end of it all.
What are your funniest moments since becoming a dad?
Dad Will made a mess of putting the nappy on one day and the consequence was a volcanic eruption of poo right up baby’s back. His partner shared this story on social media, and Will took lots of abuse as a result. At the time he found it highly embarrassing, but now he looks back on it he can see the funny side that everyone else saw.
Kyle’s story involved him lifting his baby up in the air. Just as he did this his baby vomited all over him. Needless to say it hit him directly in the mouth!
Steven had a similar funny experience to Will. As he lay his baby on the changing mat to change him, the baby started projectile vomiting. The mess was everywhere! In all the chaos Steven’s reaction was to take a photo to show his wife who was sleeping upstairs. Then he threw everything out and put baby in the bath. It was either that or hose him down outside.
Tony and Gavin both had similar funny moments when their daughters first belly laughed. For both of them it was such an infectious laugh without any reason and went on for such a long time, about 20 minutes of hilarious laughter for all of them.