I think I had pre-natal depression.
It cannot be true, after 28 years, I am going to be a father again?
After all, I already had three children with my first wife. Then there was a second marriage, and my beautiful new bride came along and joined our family. The kids grew up and moved out, I paid off the house - all looking good. Then the unexpected – baby number four on the way.
Yes.. I think I had pre-natal depression.
My mind is in a whirl. I worry whether I can do this again. Do I have the patience or tolerance. Am I going to be too grumpy? How will this affect my life – after all I must be getting close to retirement and all that it means - travel, hobbies, slowing down and now... gone. As the day drew closer, the quieter I became.
Birthing suite, zero hour. I have never been in this place before. I had waited outside like a good old-fashioned TV dad when the other children were born, but not this time.
Wait a minute, it’s not too bad, in fact it’s amazing and I don’t even faint. Then there she is. A beautiful little girl, whose cord I am invited to cut. I’ve never done that before.
I return home that day exhilarated, relieved and a little less nervous now that both are safe and well. The image of my wife’s sheer joy burnt forever into my brain.
In no time at all we are home from the hospital, and little by little it all starts to come back to me. Bottles, nappies, feeding, bathing and sleep times are all that matter in these early days. It’s not as brutal as I had imagined as we are blessed with a good sleeper, and a routine soon develops. I start wishing she would stop growing up so fast, as everyday there is something new to enjoy. My wife’s happiness knows no bounds. She has waited so long for this to happen.
Four months flash pass, maternity leave is over and my wife returns to work. So, I’m in charge. After some initial nerves on both sides, baby’s and mine, we settle into a pattern. I can do this, I say to myself, of course I can - I have the experience, I’ve done this before – it was 28 years ago that’s all.
A beautiful relationship develops between my daughter and I. She is kind and loving and I really enjoy our time together. I realise I missed out on this early period with the other children, who had Nannies. I was always working, trying to build the business, worrying about the next contract and life passed by. I’m now happy to work from home, to be here with her and watch her grow. It’s given me opportunities I would never have taken, doing courses online, adding more skills.
It is so much better this time around. I thought I’d be embarrassed being the older father with a little baby, but nobody cares and it keeps me young, even though I’ll be 73 when she graduates high school!
Fast forward two years.
My little baby is now three years old. No longer a baby but a little girl, and it has happened before my very eyes.
Two days a week day care and a few hours with Grandma, otherwise old Dad is ‘it’ during the week. Happily her mother, who she idolises, toilet trained her and has given her great self-confidence.
I am trying to teach manners and obedience and am often ignored.
If a voice is raised I am told, ‘Don’t get cranky daddy I’m only three’, it’s hard to keep a straight face. She operates the DVD player seamlessly, a skill that took me considerably longer to master, and I’m in the media.
I have become adept at being able to concentrate and work while Dora and Elsa perform on the television, but not as successful at concealing frustration when my afternoons computer work has been replaced by a string of Zs and Xs. (Note to self: Save every word and keep screen closed!)
It is such a steep learning curve at this age, hers at three, mine at fifty-eight.
The jury is out on whose is the steepest.
Tip 2: Savour every moment.
Originally published in 9Honey.