Sam Raynor: I tried to do everything I could to make her pregnancy easier
“I’m going to be a dad”.
Those words hit me so hard. It’s all I’ve ever wanted!
Throughout my entire life, even being at school, all I wanted was to have my own little family. My friends all wanted to be footballers or racing car drivers, but not me. No, family life was always what I wanted.
When my partner and I found out we were going to be having a baby, the first struggle I encountered was worrying about the finances. This, I would imagine, might seem like an odd struggle to go through initially. After all, there is far more to life and parenthood than money. But nonetheless, this was my first real struggle; how am I going to be able to support my partner and my new baby in this world? Of course, I knew that I would always find a way, but it was a real worry. I imagine a lot of men will feel this.
Another struggle I found myself going through was watching my partner change, physically. Not in the sense of her becoming less attractive; frankly the “glow” that people talk about amongst pregnant women is true! She had never looked so beautiful.
But watching her begin to realise that her figure was changing and it was changing forever.
It was difficult watching her go through this, even though she and I were so excited to be pregnant and couldn’t wait to meet our baby.
The other struggle I found was being that support for my partner. She had one thing to focus on, one thing and one thing only; grow that tiny little life inside of her. Now, I’m not at all saying that this is a simple, easy task; it became paramount to me throughout the pregnancy that growing a human being inside of you, while natural, is NOT a simple task. But regardless, it was one task to focus on.
I felt that I had so much I needed to do. We were in the process of buying a house while my partner was pregnant, so I tried to take control of as much of that as possible, to ease the load for her.
I tried to do everything I could to make her pregnancy easier, and with this came stress and struggles. As well as working a full time job and teaching kickboxing to pull in extra money, I was trying to keep her happy and calm at all times. Even if I wasn’t feeling particularly calm or stress free, she needed to be.
We didn’t sleep at the hospital – how could we?! We were going to meet our baby boy! But among all the tests, the waters breaking and being taken to a labour ward, the nagging feeling of, “oh my word, I need to sleep” was all too strong in my mind. Even after he was born, I couldn’t sleep straight away. My partner managed to fall asleep; bless her she needed it! She had been awake for 40+ hours, in labour for 21 hours, she was exhausted! But I couldn’t, not straight away at least.
When my partner was fully dilated, that’s when the next lot of struggles hit. The phrase, “I’m going to be a dad” rang in my ears again.
This was it. The baby was coming, and there is no going back now – of course I didn’t want to go back. It was hard seeing my partner in so much pain. It was hard watching her pass out between contractions due to sheer lack of sleep and complete exhaustion.
The main struggle here was the ‘not knowing’. I’ve never had a baby before, I had no idea what I was meant to be doing, despite being told by the midwives I was being a good support. I just held her hand, squeezed it tight and told her she could do this. Irrational as it may sound, I also worried that she wouldn’t make it through the labour.
I don’t know why I thought this, but for a moment I worried I would be left in this world with just myself and my baby. This was a terrifying thought.
In the end, our son was delivered with forceps. The struggle I experienced here was being led into the surgery room with eight or nine people in there, not including me or my partner. The sheet was covering the bottom half of my partner, but I could see so much blood. I worried. Was everything okay? Were we not being told something?
Our son was delivered, and he was perfect. I cried. Uncontrollably. This, in itself, was another struggle. I was so open and emotional. I wear my heart on sleeve to an extent, but I felt so vulnerable, balling my eyes out in the surgery room. I cut the cord, and we were led back to our room.
After the birth, we stayed in the hospital for one night. This is where I encountered the most difficult struggle of all…THE FIRST POOP!
Nothing in the world could have prepared me for the tar-coloured mess that appeared in my son’s nappy…and his back…and his feet…and, well, basically his entire body! He look liked he had been dipped in Marmite. It was awful.
On a serious note, when we left the hospital and we got in the car to go home, I struggled with knowing that I was now in charge of keeping this beautiful life alive and well. I had to ensure he always had clothes, food, water and a home. I worried whether or not I would be able to give him everything he needed, and I struggled with the thought that I wouldn’t be able to.
Fatherhood has filled me with struggles. Struggles that I have overcome by myself, and struggles that I have needed help to overcome, from my partner and my family.
Pregnancy is very much woman focused, and so it should be. But, dad’s, you have a voice. You have struggles too. You have worries that you need help with. You’ll experience your own version of this pregnancy.
The main piece of advice I can give? Talk to people. Talk to your partner, your family, even your health visitor or midwife. Talk to anyone. If you’re having troubles, talk. Support your partner, offer her help. Encourage her, whether that’s with breastfeeding, going back to work or just getting out of the house. Encourage and support her and you’ll find yourself feeling relieved.
A final point; be there for the birth if you possibly can
Hold her hand. Cut the cord. Life will never be the same again. But I promise you, you’ll never want it to be. Being a dad is incredible. Embrace fatherhood.”
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