This year you may have a special someone in your life celebrating his first official Father’s Day. If so, you should ask him about the day he became a father.
As a doula, I get to see people become parents all the time, but it’s always special being with someone the moment he becomes a father. He hasn’t been pregnant for nine months, so part of what is happening is completely new to him. He’s likely imagined this moment without really comprehending the best and most amazing parts. (I blame television for most of that — the unexpected water breaking with a mad dash to the hospital, followed by screaming, deep breathing, and a crying baby. In my personal and professional experience, it almost never happens like that!)
I’ve seen fathers cry, cheer, and stand silently, mouth agape at what they’ve witnessed. Every once in a while, a dad gets dizzy and needs a chair — sometimes literally holding his breath until he knows his partner and baby are safe. And it’s true that some new fathers can be overwhelmed by the flurry of fluids and activity during birth. But most fall to the background of the scene, carefully encouraging and loving on their partner or spouse until the baby enters the world. Then they breathe a deep sigh of relief when the couple becomes three (or more).
I’ve seen adoptive parents cradle their newborn baby for the first time in a quiet and undisturbed hospital room with as much joy and vigor as I’ve seen in any birthing room. I have watched brand new babies respond to their father’s familiar and comforting voice by raising their head for the first time. The dads are always a little shocked that they are just as known as mom — that they, too, can provide the perfect home.
If you ask a new father to recount the day, he might surprise you with an unexpected observation of the baby’s mom’s fortitude. He might say the most poetic words you’ve ever heard uttered or simply say, “Well, that was crazy!” No matter the memory, you’re bound to hear a funny or touching story about the labor or birth.
We talk about mothers and babies being born all the time, but fathers are also born. So while some may be getting ready to celebrate their first official Father’s Day, remember that their babies have been celebrating dad’s place in their life since the moment they arrived.