This was the big question. This wasn’t about meeting my wife or dating fiascos. This was all about when Boy Meets Girl.
The very first time I held Ms. Monkey to leave the safe confines of a hospital, I was scared out of my mind. How could they let us go? Couldn’t they see we were petrified? Didn’t they know it was just my wife and I? We had no family in the same country, we were all on our own. Couldn’t they see that look in our eyes of being lost in an abyss?
We were safe at the hospital, nothing could happen. She (and us for that matter) was watched over and doted over, feedings and changes were scheduled, etc. All my wife and I were tasked with was watching her and cuddling and looking at her. But, noooo, soon we had to leave that little bubble and go out in the real world.
After 3 days in the hospital, we were leaving. It was so very hot and humid (we are talking 45 degrees C) and all that we could focus on was getting home in one piece and God forbid those other drivers that just had to be on the same road we did at the exact same time. There should have been a parting of the waters right then and there.
We walked into our apartment feeling a bit lost. We put her in the crib and just proceeded to look at each other and saying (just like any other parents), “What now?”. What do you do with this little thing? Do we sit here and just watch? Do we check her diaper? Where is the book? Oh no, she is crying… now what?
I was so scared to hold her. Scared isn’t a word. Utter fear is more like it. I was afraid she would fall right out of my hands. It was like trying to hold a piece of wet spaghetti (and don’t get me started on the first ‘bath’). How was this baby my daughter? How was this 2.9kg ‘it’ going to survive when I have no idea what I am doing?
There is an interesting line between realizing there is love and actually falling in love. I didn’t fully understand this feeling and I still wasn’t able to believe that she was my daughter except that a piece of paper told me she was. There was nothing beyond that because she looked like a cute little prune that I was suppose to do something with. And, much to the baffling look of my country-men’s faces around me, that meant changing diapers, bottles, burp rags, changing diapers again (and whoah, what comes out of those diapers is just beyond what any ‘nose’ should ever endure).
It truly took me about 6 months before I actually fell in love with her. I would tell my wife that and she was a bit dumbfounded because she already liked the little ‘it’ …. liked her A LOT, but she too was also battling her own feelings in balancing career and family (more on that later). But, I really didn’t understand why it took this long to really fall in love and I was feeling guilty about what this love was suppose to be. Why is that? Is it because, as dads, we are often so disconnected from the pregnancy and the emotional and physical aspects that continue to reaffirm there is a life growing? Is it that maternal thing that mothers are given, atleast most often, that just says “Ok, you are mine and I love you”? I was always curious if other dad’s felt this way. If this was normal and it was always the way it was going to be. I was frightened I wasn’t going to feel the same way as my wife did or all of the glorified pictures you see on TV of dad’s cooing and awwwing over their child with tears streaming out of their eyes. My family and friends asked where the nanny was and “where is your wife… she should be caring for the child and you should be at work all day”. And that is where it all began and I sometimes wonder if that’s what held me back sometimes as well.
But funny enough, that love just took hold. It just showed up one day. I can’t pinpoint when, exactly. I do remember a lot of things leading up to it — her first smile, the way she would grasp my finger, when she would hold onto my neck, when she would start to laugh at me — those things. And then, one day, I was able to say that I really and truly loved this little “It”. I had absolutely and wholeheartedly walked into the fire and I wasn’t coming out. I was able to look at her and realize that one second of pain or heartache would destroy my very soul. Oh, pity the poor guy that thinks he’s going to ever ever ever marry her — atleast not until she is 40! I had fallen in love – deeply and madly in love with “It… #1”
With “It #2”, our little Mackenzie, it was completely different. Completely the reverse. I was the one that was worrying about fingers and toes . I was the one worrying. But, when she arrived, I looked at her and that was it, I was in love. I was head over heels in love with the two most beautiful, angelic children in the world.
But, then the next looming question was presenting itself…… How are on earth was I suppose to love TWO of them? How do you share that love? How do you not have favourites? Or, do you?
Why on earth is this whole experience of being a dad so painful?