Becoming a father is an incredible event in a man’s life. One father shares how he and other new dads changed not just as men, but as husbands, too, after the birth of their children.
In an online fathers’ forum recently, a dedicated new dad related an insight he’d shared with his wife: “You know what makes the first two months of having a newbornbearable? The last two months of pregnancy.” She laughed, the guy said, then gave him a good jab in the shoulder.
Caring for his pregnant partner can truly help a man prepare to meet his newborn’s needs. It can also serve to warn him that his own life is about to change just as dramatically, although less visibly, than his partner’s body. In asking dads about how they changed during that first month of fatherhood, I found that their stories and comments dealt with four major themes: their partners, friends, work commitments, and personal lives—which, as you’ve probably guessed, covers just about everything.
In the delivery room, many guys discover a profound admiration for their partners’ endurance. Boyd, a brand-new dad from Leominster, Massachusetts, says, “Samantha’s birth has accentuated all of the good feelings that I already had towards Kandi. So far in our marriage things have been pretty easy—we work together the best we can, but we’ve never had to face any extremes, really. Seeing how Kandi faced what I consider to be an extreme challenge was inspiring.”
Kory, a father of two boys in Orange County, California, felt a similar growth of respect for his wife during the birth of their first son. Afterwards, however, he struggled with the shift of her attention to the baby: “I never blamed Cameron or Victoria, but it was hard. I felt as if she didn’t love me as much, although I knew she did.”
For myself, the first month with my daughter Alexis helped me feel a stability in my marriage to Leah that a wealth of professional help prepared us for but couldn’t actually provide. Also, our physical relationship took a temporary back seat, so to speak, to our parental nurturing, which created space for me to feel a greater range of emotions than before. There was the almost-tangible gratitude I felt at Leah’s devotion to Alexis—especially when she’d take my bottle-feeding turn at 2 AM—and the plain old affection that comes from sharing a set of challenges and rewards with someone you trust. I like Boyd’s explanation of how a baby helps a couple grow: “Although Kandi and I have worked together at having a good enough time, making our house decent and fun to be in, and paying the bills and so forth, we now have something we both care a whole lot more about to work together on.”