Fatherhood Is Pretty Good

There’s a saying out there in the world that goes something like: “women become mothers when they find out they’re pregnant, while men become fathers when they meet their first child.” To which I reply, fie on your gender essentialist bullshit, and have you met my husband? Because he became a dad well before NS got yanked into this world. I’m not sure if M became a dad when he started reading Where the Wild Things Are to my belly every night when I was pregnant, or if it was when he saved NS’s first ultrasound snaps to his phone, or when we started telling people we were going to have a baby, or when he guided me through nearly 80 hours of labour, but I can tell you that by the time NS arrived on planet earth, M was already a great dad.

M’s great dad skills look something like this: when I was learning how to breastfeed and barely sleeping, he took it upon himself to be a one-man army of all things baby-related. He was the captain of the stroller and the lieutenant of the dirty diapers. He took out the garbage and carried the carseat in and out of every appointment we had. He made sure I showered and that my c-section incision was healing well. He petted my stomach and told me I was beautiful.

If that last part sounds like it has nothing to do with being a dad, well, maybe you’re right. M is an all-around good partner, and after nearly five months of co-parenting together, I think being a good partner is essential to being a good parent. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or dating, or if you’re even a couple: the ability to support and help your children’s parents is the mark of a good human being.

We have our ups and downs—every couple does—but M is steadfast and has incredible faith in us as a family. I tend to be rather apocalyptic in my mindset (things are often horrible, or ending, and I am also a bad person), and M is not. He is the optimist to my pessimist, the one who will always say, “but to be fair, look at how well this is going!” and who will always be excited about things. I might sometimes be calmer in the face of a screaming baby (sometimes), but he’s the one who can get the baby to giggle up a storm.

In fact, getting the baby to laugh is one of M’s best tricks, but it’s not his only one. M’s greatest gift to our little family was taking four months off to see us through NS’s infancy. He was there when my milk came in and I was a total emotional disaster. He was there at all the doctor’s appointments. He was the first person to see the baby roll over. NS adores his daddy, and the feeling is obviously mutual. If I am dinner, then M is clearly the show, and the baby is thoroughly entertained.

Our marriage will evolve as our family evolves. NS is a chill baby, but not without his challenges—if we add another baby, or another, then our relationship will stretch to cover the new members of the family, sometimes uncomfortably. If we are one and done, we will grow as NS grows. We’re still in early days, and we’ve had our share of friction (maybe part of that has to do with spending nearly five months straight together?). But we’ve also had our share of love.

I think M became Dad—not just a dad, but NS’s papa—our first night in the hospital. I was still on pins and needles from the epidural, unable to walk and stuck in my bed. M’s chair folded into a tiny cot: the back folded down, and the front flipped up like a La-Z-Boy recliner. M was holding NS, still wrapped in his newborn swaddle, and in his fog of exhaustion and emotion, accidentally sat down on the footrest part of the chair, which immediately collapsed under his weight. We both cried out as M took a spill towards the floor, but he never lost his grip on NS. It was the most wretched and miraculous moment in M’s first few hours as a dad.

I think about that image a lot: M holding onto his baby as best he could, even as the world fell away beneath him. It was a birthday miracle, and the moment I knew that he would watch out for that baby until the end of days.

About the Author

Kaitlyn Kochany
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More about Kaitlyn Kochany

Kaitlyn Kochany is a Toronto-area freelance writer and editor. She had her son, NS, in January 2016, and has been trying to sleep and write since then.

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