I have been thinking about this post for the two weeks or so since our daughter, Aoife, was born. It has taken until the last few days for me to commit pen to paper, well, finger to iPad screen. Why? Three reasons.
One, there is almost too much to say. How can you summarise in a few paragraphs the feelings of becoming a parent for the first time and do it justice? How can you adequately sum up the lifetime of transformation we have experienced over the last two weeks?
Two, the fear of resorting almost entirely to cliché. I have fretted; is there any original way to express one’s feelings on this occasion? Will I sound like the worst of lazy writers? Has it all be said before?
Third, the time to sit, think and then write has become somewhat condensed these last fourteen or so days. This is due in part to having new tasks to complete; feeding, changing, nursing etc but also to the time we now take just watching our little bundle of perfection. I imagine it being a similar experience to the days of the first TVs in the street when people from all around went to the chosen house to watch the box in the corner of the room. We can now very happily spend an hour at a time just sitting watching Aoife, even if she is doing nothing but sleep!
I have waited until the last few days when time and a clear (and less tired) head has allowed. I have gathered my reflections; things I learnt over the last two weeks or things I now know even more than I knew before. I will say sorry now if a cliché or two sneaks in. Here goes.
Meeting your child for the first time is the greatest meeting of your life.
The moment Aoife entered the world was heart-stopping. Is she ok? Is she breathing? Why isn’t she crying? Then the feeling of relief followed by euphoria, followed by overwhelming emotion, when the crying starts and she is placed on he mummy’s chest and she looks at you. It is a feeling of meeting someone for the first time who you instantly recognize and instantly know. I wasn’t sure that love at first sight really existed until I met Aoife. It does. Cliché use apology!
Hospitals can be scary but doctors, nurses and midwives can make you feel safe.
The care we received- and I include myself in that as someone who received kindness and consideration in the two days of so we spent as a family in hospital- from the people of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was brilliant. It was all good but I pick out one moment. As our labour was getting to the final stages and tiredness was setting in (not just mine!) two doctors joined us in the delivery room. The way they took control- calmly, sensitivity but firmly- inspired confidence and gave us a feeling of security which as first time parents we really appreciated. My abiding memory of those moments were the clarity of communication from the doctors- simple language, calmly delivered with a strong sense of purpose. The atmosphere in the room changed as soon as they arrived and shortly afterwards our daughter arrived!
Grandparents are happy when they become grandparents!
Yes, this falls into the category of things I now know even more than before! I have never seen joy- pure, unstrained, uncensored joy as when our parents met Aoife for the first time. The look in their eyes, their bursting pride, their tears of joy were so wonderful to share. It is unlike any other expression of joy I have ever seen and a little bit of me enjoyed a moment of self satisfaction that I had played a part in making them that happy.
People are so kind and thoughtful.
We have been inundated with cards, presents, calls, emails, Tweets, Facebook mentions and good wishes from family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and friends of friends and family. It has been so humbling that so many people wanted to share in our joy.
I love my wife more than words can express.
I consider myself to be a very lucky man to not only have met, but to have married, the best, most special person on the planet. I do of course have great judgment so I take some of the credit for this meeting and subsequent marriage! The downside of this love- this all encompassing, gut-wrenching, can’t imagine life without each other love- is that you hurt when they hurt. And there doesn’t come much more pain or hurt than giving birth- I am reliably told. Watching the person you love most in the world experience the worst pain of their life is awful- you would give anything to take their place and yet you are left feeling totally helpless. Mercibly my wife is braver and tougher than me so she took it all in her stride but it was hard to watch. Thankfully those few hours are a memory now but my memory will always be full of my wonderful wife’s amazing determination to bring our darling daughter into the world and now I have seen her add the title of planet’s most incredible Mum to go with her wife world crown. So I go back to where I started; I am a very lucky man and my daughter is a very lucky girl.
Oh yes, one last thing; sleep is over-rated!
We have known our daughter for just over fourteen days. It feels as if we have always known her. Our world now revolves around her (cliché klaxon!). Our lives will never be the same again and we thank God and all our blessings for that.