Parent Diaries

The real wake-up call was when we got home. This was when I felt that we were no longer a “couple”, but a real family.

The wonder and worry of becoming a first time Dad

The wonder and worry of becoming a first time Dad

Nantes, France

Isadora and myself had been together for five years, when we realised that it was the right time; we both felt ready to have a child. A year later, we were delighted when we learnt she was pregnant. In spite of this, I was unable to plan ahead immediately and even all through her pregnancy. It was all so new and for me it was not “tangible” until the baby was there.

The pregnancy went very well, with the mother and baby in very good health, and I felt no particular stress. I didn’t read up very much about it as I preferred to discover things day by day. I had already experienced my elder sister’s pregnancy from a distance and it felt very familiar. We had lots of support from both my mother and my sister, who is a mother.  We also had several friends who were able to answer my questions about my future role as a father. Systematically, the advice I was given was to enjoy every moment. A first pregnancy only happens once!

On the day my partner gave birth to Léonie, we were both in awe and fascinated. The real wake-up call was when the three of us got home. This is when I felt that we were no longer a “couple”, but a real family.

On the first days, I did my best to help Isadora rest. I took my paternity leave at that time. Also Léonie had severe colic, so we had to organise ourselves to both get “sufficient sleep”. It was really hard to cope with her colic. I found it very difficult to understand that we couldn’t stop her crying both during the day and at night. It was very frustrating. You couldn’t switch “off” the crying. I was even surprised by my own patience. A first for me!

When I became a father, I also had to abandon some of the principles I had before I realised what it meant to be a parent. This was particularly true when we realised how soothing it was for Léonie to have a comforter. We abandoned the idea of not using one. It’s more important to be aware of my daughters needs than to stick to principles.

Everyday life with Léonie is full of small pleasures. Recently, we discovered her laughing out loud when she discovered we had a cat in the house (even though it has been here for 3 years). It was her first interaction with the living being outside the family and it was both surprising and hilarious!

According to our families, Léonie smiles a lot. They say she is happy little girl. I feel so proud, even if I’m not alone in this.

Léonie’s arrival had a big impact on our lives as a couple. Outside of the small rows about trivial things, we became much closer, sharing moments both as a family of three and as a couple. We have the same ideas about the values we would like her to have: socialising her with as many other children as possible through the day nursery, so that she’s used to having people around her and so that she can blossom in this environment. We’re determined she should have social skills.

My next challenge as a father will be with regard to education and the more directive approach I will need to have with my daughter – a huge step into the unknown! I feel that this is essential to become a good person and have a good life. Fortunately, I still have some time ahead of me, so I’m making the most of it. If I had one piece of advice to give to future fathers it would be to make the most of every moment (even the hardest ones) and to believe your family and friends when they say that the tough times will pass, because it’s true.