It was late afternoon and my wife and I were in the mall doing some shopping. A sharp, uncomfortable pain made itself known in her stomach, but we brushed it off and continued with our shopping. The pain came around again and this time we quickly finished off and rushed to the doctor. A simple pregnancy test later and it was
confirmed, we were pregnant. The excitement rushed through me and reduced me to tears. This was it – we were going to be parents.
"To say I view the world in a different way is probably an understatement. It is no longer just the two of us; there are now three and this tiny human has taken centre stage.."
Primed for parenting
Your head fills with all sorts of questions: Is our home big enough? Should we move? Do we have enough money? What school will she go to? You immediately think of the future and suddenly the investment banking, and life insurance adverts ringing through the media catch your attention.
Mixed in with your own thoughts of excitement and ‘How are we actually going to do this?’ is the constant echo of a million voices, telling you in ins and outs, what to do and what not to do, how your life is about to change and how sleep will become a thing of the past. You sponge up as much as you can, turning your bookshelf of impressive well-known authors to that of baby and parenting education and self-help books. It’s a whole new world of excitement and learning, which you gladly accept.
The pregnancy journey goes faster than you realise; you have roughly nine months to kit out a nursery, stock up on supplies and switch your brain from go-with-the-flow couple to parenting experts. It’s a time of excitement, nerves, and preparation as you watch your little miracle grow from the size of a poppy seed to that of a watermelon.
As prepared as we were, the reality only hit the moment that precious life came into the world. Everything slowed down; I can recall every sound and every emotion that ran through me. It was a feeling I had never experienced until that very second. It was a surreal moment of pure happiness. All the reading we had done and all the advice we had received was about to be put to practice and we were 100% ready.
To say I view the world in a different way is probably an understatement. It is no longer just the two of us; there are now three and this tiny human has taken centre stage. A trip to the shops takes practise: you quickly learn the art of packing a nappy bag without forgetting something; you look for a parking bay closest to the entrance and you make sure you ‘trolley dash’ your way through the shops, at least in the beginning. Once you get the hang of things, you gain more confidence and venture out further and for longer periods. You are no longer quick to judge the parents in the shops with a screaming child, you look at them in a completely different way, almost with a sense of respect.
Your circle of friends grows, and a night out with the boys has shifted to an afternoon at the game, while the Mom’s thrill in the gossip of baby play dates. You are home before 6pm to bath baby and take on your daddy duties.
The way I view my wife has changed in a way I never expected. Her dedication and selflessness to this new little life is a beautiful thing to watch. I’m honoured to be on this journey with such a dedicated partner. It’s a parenting collaboration where we discuss everything.
Your mindset changes. Instead of looking for a new lounge suite or a fancy coffee machine, you find yourself attracted to baby stores and actually enjoy looking at all the baby goods. You get pleasure from spending a few hundred rand on a baby-wearing wrap for your wife (and yourself – baby wearing for dads is a trend right now). You find yourself quickly becoming that person who talks constantly about their baby, scrolling through hundreds of pictures on your phone, showing everyone – even those who didn’t ask. It’s your pride and joy, why wouldn’t everyone want to see, right?
Parenthood is extremely rewarding. Yes, some days will be long and the nights even longer, dinner will probably only be eaten after 8 PM, and you are more than likely going to come across situations that no one mentioned, but it’s okay. What I have come to understand is that as much as you are learning how to be a parent, your baby is adapting to being in the outside world. Take it easy. Enjoy the happy mornings and stay calm through the cranky afternoons, listen to your parenting instincts, and support one another. For some this can be a challenging time; for others it is a walk in the park. But take my advice: never compare your child or parenting situation to that of someone else’s; we are all different and that is the beauty of the world. Above all this, I have learned to love like I never thought possible.