Sunday, October 5, 2008

How a Baby Can Change your Life: A Recent Father’s Perspective

Sleeping baby boy wrapped up with ink footprints at his side

To Arameis Shahyar, the little hairy guy

It's a phrase I have heard many times out of the mouth of proud and gleaming fathers: “Having a child is the most important event in my life.” Last Thursday, I had this experience for the first time, when around 7 pm my son appeared on the world's stage, and I will try to put it all into words, to the best of my ability.

During the C-section in the operating room I was too preoccupied with various issues and worried about the health of my baby and my wife that I honestly could not tell there and then whether it was one of the best or worst experiences, especially seeing my wife all cut open the way she was. I had my digital camera at hand but too nervous and shaky to be able to handle electronic equipment effectively. I got a photo of my son's first contact with the world, one of his legs.

One of my colleagues and another fellow father had told me that when his son was born he had experienced the longest and probably most tormenting minute of silence in his life. When the baby finally cried he said he was greatly relieved; a heavy weight had been lifted from his anguished heart. Fortunately, in our case, I was exempted from such a heavy trial, and our son cried right away, his welcoming shout, his first enunciation and sign of life, a piercing heart-warming wail.

It took me a while to grasp the full complexity of the situation. It was my son I was facing and coming eye to eye with, a breathing being that had been hidden for over eight months in the warmth of my wife's belly. Tolstoy described some of those doubts and feelings in Anna Karenina through the eyes of a troubled and confused Levin: 

But the baby? Whence, why, who was he?... He could not get used to the idea. It seemed to him something extraneous, superfluous, to which he could not accustom himself.

It takes time to digest the experience. Here suddenly there is a creature and people present it to you, waving it in front of your face and telling you that this is your son. But how is that possible; where did it really come from? Flesh of my flesh, family, somebody who shares my genes and looks like me? This is really terrifying, and I am not able to comprehend it just yet, probably never will, so we call it the mystery or miracle of life.

Now many fathers claim children are part of one's personal success story. I doubt it simply because we cannot take much credit for it. Most of the pain and difficulty, the birth pangs are on the wife's part. We men are spectators who try their best to give a hand. Yet there is something that shifts and changes within you and makes you look at everything with different eyes once the baby is born.

My idea of success has endured some alterations over the past few days. Money and fame have somewhat gone to the background. One's focus rather changes, and it comes down to seeking success in the light of the new events, being able to take care of one's child, to become a responsible father. Everything that seemed important yesterday is getting blurry, while new challenges and hopes reveal themselves on the distant horizon. 

In a strange sense, time has seemed to stop as well. I felt that I was moving toward certain goals, but now I am living immobile in the present moment. I enjoy watching my son, talking to him and seeing how he responds to my voice, how it often calms him and how he pricks his ears and moves his eyes at the familiar voice he used to hear from the muffled inside of the womb. The fact that one day he might tell me that he loves me would be a feeling of pride and inexplicable joy.

Anyhow, life has become different, has changed me within the limited period of a few days prolonging into the wide unknown future. There is one thing LSD and having a child have in common: Once you cross the threshold, there is no way back. Nothing remains the same and everything will change, your perspective, your life, even your fears and dreams.


Anonymous said...

jadedconformist says it very well. Being on the mother end of the process myself, I remember my husband's reaction (stunned) when our son was born. His description of his feelings when he saw his son were similar to yours.

I think this is where the mom's have it over the dad's. The mothers attachment is able to start during pregnancy through feeling the movement of life and her body changes. But now's your chance to get right in there daddy. Enjoy the wonder. Congratulations to you and your wife!

earthlingorgeous said...

awwww cute and you are already starting the scrapbook! the footprint!



Happy Birthday to the little one!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! He's adorable and I love your idea of creating a digital scrapbook for him. Best wishes for happy parenting.

Arash Farzaneh said...

Thank you very much to all of you! It is a wonderful moment and we are filled with pride and happiness!

And yes, I also appreciate my parents much more after this. I am also aware of the sad fact that one day my son will grow up, develop his own personality, and leave; it's a cycle of life, I suppose.

But for now there's thrill, hope and excitement - all the best to all the parents and would-be parents out there!

cube said...

Congratulations. You are right about life not every being the same again. Ever! But you'll find it to be the greatest thing you & your wife have ever done.

rani said...

Lovely baby! Great to know that he is well and so loved. Enjoy these precious moments, they bring alive the world for you.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son! I enjoyed reading a new dad's view of his baby's birth.

Robert said...

Congratulations. We welcome #3 in December. So much attention is focused on pregnant moms (and rightfully so,) while dad's experience is often a footnote. In fact one of the few times we hear of dad is if he faints at delivery or uses the duct tape to attach diapers.

I think it's important for people to realize how much we actually do contribute to the raising of our children.

Great post, thanks!