New Father. New priorities.
Since Esme was born a week ago, I seem to have gone into uber protective mode. As I explained in another post, my own sense of mortality has led me to become completely risk averse: driving slower, crossing at pedestrian crossings rather than anywhere else on the road, taking my time walking about the house, so I don’t trip over, not to mention many more things.
I was always a ‘going out’ person. I loved going to the pub or a restaurant. But now those interests seemed to have waned and I’m only interested in staying at home. Those that know me well, know that I love to be doing things, always out, never still. Now all I want to do is chill out with my baby girl on my chest. I want to be in the moment, the now, rather than thinking about what to do next.
This is the psychological side to it. But there appears to be a physical side to it too. When I am out I feel drawn back home, my throat has a lump in it all the time (an actual lump not an emotional one) and I feel anxious. I go completely off my food. All I want to do is drink water, get back in the car and head home.
During skin to skin time with Esme, I get really hot as if I am having a chemical imbalance or reaction, I had heard this happens to the mother but I didn’t realise it happened to the father too. This gives me an amazing sense of euphoria only to be replaced with a “coming down” phase after skin to skin contact ends. Well I suppose that just means more skin to skin time !
From what I have read, a new father’s testosterone levels drop by 30% in the 3 weeks after the baby has been born. Maybe that is nature’s way of helping him synchronise with the mother, so that they are on a level playing field. Each of them knowing what they need to do in which to provide for their new baby: I.e. nothing else matters.
A father is then made a little ‘softer’ and it makes it easier for them to deal with a baby. I’m quite in tune with my emotions anyway so maybe this has taken me to a deeper level of emotional intensity.
A friend asked me if I have gone “all out fatherly” to everyone else, as he has seen this before: fathers telling friends to make sure they tie their shoelaces properly or cross the road at the right point. For me, it seems to have gone the other way. My only two priorities are my wife Katie and Esme. Nothing else matters. In general I am quite a caring person and I always put other people’s feelings before my own. Now it is family first before anything or anyone else.
I’ve also noticed that with this change at home, I’m more in tune with others. Or maybe they are more in tune with me. I’ve caught random people smiling at me as if they can see how happy I am. Humanity is a powerful thing. I think there are things that go much deeper, non-conversational aspects of culture and society where some people can pick up on non-visual cues. This is hard to explain. I’m not religious but there is another kind of connection going on there.
Whatever it is that’s going on, I feel so connected to my baby Esme and really at ease with my wife, Katie and I feel the need to help with everything and anything, to be a support for my new family that we have created.
I never saw these hormonal changes coming on my side. I was prepared for the changes the mother might experience, and ready to support her in every way possible. But I didn’t think there would be these physiological changes happening to me as the father. I didn’t see that coming.
Maybe I am surprised by all this, maybe every father experiences this. I don’t know. But, I have found it really interesting, rewarding and they are helping me to grow as a father every day as I embrace them wholeheartedly and, whatever comes next, I’m sure there will be many more surprises along the way