I was beside myself with excitement, couldn’t wait to be a dad with all the good and bad that goes with it, but I remember looking down at the little wrinkly bundle of skin thinking “how the hell am I going to bond with you”? I was being the dutiful husband and careful newborn dad, but was internally tearing myself apart because I didn’t know how to communicate with my child. My wife seemed to naturally know what to say and do. The breastfeeding, whilst painful and slow on the up take to start with allowed her to spend precious moments with my daughter and just through millions of years of evolution build a unspoken bond between the two.
In the beginning I had no idea what to do and found myself getting frustrated with the lack of cooperation from my 2 week old. Ridiculous I know, but you can’t help how you feel. I remember with Brooke being only 3 weeks old going for a drive one day to clear my thoughts. I found myself at the beach looking out over the ocean still wondering just how was I going to be a good dad. It was there that it hit me like a Mack Truck. To be a good dad I needed to help Jo more than my daughter. My wife was my daughters life support system. I thought to myself if I gave my all to my wife during these early days it would allow her to focus on keeping Brooke alive and I could do the rest. We had some serious complications with Brooke that I have written about before. Keeping my wife calm comfortable and not stressed was the easiest way forward for us. It would allow mum and Bub to feed and further bond peacefully, which in turn allowed Brooke to grow.
As the weeks passed and Brooke still started to gain weight and feed, we both started to feel more comfortable around each other. She started to fall asleep on me and I learnt how to talk to her so my voice didn’t scare the crap out of her. The single greatest moment for me in those first few months was when she started taking a bottle. It allowed me to get up and spend hours in the quiet of the night feeding, burping and rocking my little girl back to sleep. I would talk to her about work, cars, friends, family and stuff going on in the world. As time passed we grew closer and closer till it was easier for me to place her on my chest so she would fall asleep than anyone else rocking her for an hour.
I look at photos now of those first few weeks. I can still see the fear in my eyes. I can see the uncertainty in my smile. But something I notice more now than ever before is the way Brooke looks at me in all the photos. She came out loving me, my touch, my voice that she listened to for nine months on her womb journey. She was comfortable with me from day one. She just needed me to get past myself to see how great of a dad to her I could be. Nowadays talking to her is a lot easier, whilst I don’t get to spend the late nights and wee early morning hours telling her about the world, we chat regularly about things that interest her or capture her imagination. We don’t go a day with out a hug and she knows I’m always here for her. My journey with Jade was equally as tough due to breastfeeding for longer and her brace. But I had the knowledge from Brooke that it would all be ok if I held her when I could and rock her to sleep when she hated the world. I now I have two little best friends that rock my world.
I don’t have it all figured out. As I have said a hundred times before we are all winging it. But being a dad to my girls is a special job that only I am qualified for. A job I have earned through hard work and patience. A job that I would give it all away to put first.