I am a 43 year old male, who until 11 months ago never really gave the subject much thought. That however was about to change with one short life changing statement.
“I think I’m pregnant”. Now one of the few things I can safely say I’ve learnt about a woman is that when she predicates a statement with I think, it is nothing short of a profound statement of fact, e.g. “I think I’m in love with you” – you are mine now, accept it, it will go much easier for you that way or “I think we should take time apart” – you’re so last year mate, failure to understand and fully comply with this statement will result in a restraining order. So I instantly knew this was the real deal, Martin McSharry, was about to become a daddy.
So what to do next, how do I prepare for this life changing event? This is a dilemma that a lot of expectant fathers find themselves in. While Carolyn had the experience of nurturing the miracle of a new life growing within her womb, I often felt like I was watching a nature program, it was amazing to watch the pregnancy develop but often felt like an observer, whose contribution to the whole project, apart from the obvious initial one, was auxiliary. So I decided the best thing I could do was to prepare for the arrival, and as all responsible expectant fathers do, I turned to Google.
The second link on the first page brought me to ‘The Top Ten Surprises of New Fatherhood’ on www.parents.com. Excellent, I thought, bullet points – the answer to every male problem, so I began in earnest expectation of securing the reassurance I was seeking. Not so, I was informed of the following:
You may be confused: Okay, but that’s normal isn’t it, after all this a life changing event.
You'll discover a different kind of love: Okay…yes well at 43 and living with my girlfriend that would be very confusing
You'll feel ambivalence: Lucky kid!
You may get depressed, you'll be afraid: Seriously! Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? So becoming a father is comparable to a hardcore hangover!
Your relationship with your partner will change: Good, that was all I needed to hear. I’ll just add that to my confused sexuality, fear and depression shall I?
You'll take baby's 'opinions' too seriously: No I won’t. Baby won’t have any ‘opinions’; it’s a baby not Jeremy Paxman.
I gave up, best just to wait for baby to arrive and hope for the best. Then at 10am on Monday April 19, 2012, Jack Christopher McSharry appeared weighing in at 8lb 8oz and my world changed forever.
I cried a little, I smiled a lot, and somehow I felt my heart grow inside my chest. I had loved Carolyn very much before I ever knew she was to be mother to my child but that day I looked at this exhausted beautiful woman in complete awe at what she had been through and the gift she had given me. She reciprocated by threatening to shove my camera deep inside one of my orifices if I didn’t stop trying to video her.
Returning to my initial question, Fatherhood, what does it really mean? Technically it is the state of relation a man has to his offspring. Yes well, perhaps that’s why we don’t bring dictionaries on holiday. For a novice like me, I really don’t how to define it, never mind how to do it, but I feel it deeper that any feeling I ever felt in my entire life.
Earlier this week Mark Zuckerberg made billions on the trading floor from the floatation of Facebook, I’m very happy for him – but I wouldn’t trade this for anything.