Written by Lance Green

It isn’t only Mum’s that experience fear and apprehension on the imminent arrival of a little one. First-time Dads may also experience anxiety and concerns when it comes to welcoming a precious little bundle into the home.  I know I experienced feelings of panic and felt overwhelmed when I contemplated being responsible for a little being that was relying on me for her very survival. When I found out my partner was pregnant, I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait for her to arrival, but as the due date got closer and the reality started to kick in, I was scared and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to cope with having a little one around. I felt very guilty for feeling like I wanted to run away and just take a break from all the baby talk. I wanted to clear my head and stop stressing about everything. I felt guilty for feeling this way too, knowing my partner couldn’t get away from it all.  

One of the main fears I had was messing up. I was worried that I would make mistakes in caring for the baby and was worried that could harm her. I read up as much as I could, spoke to other Dads and finally just sat down and chatted to my partner. She said she would help and guide me and anything we didn’t know we could find out together. That went a long way towards alleviating that fear. And yes, there were some mistakes, I got peed on and I ended up with a baby covered in talc, but we laughed it off and carried on. Learning together made the experience better and helped us bond with each other while bonding with my daughter. 

Another major fear for me was that we would not be able to cope financially with an extra person in the home and babies are expensive! We started putting money aside from the day we found out we were expecting so that we could cover costs plus extra for the baby during the time period my partner was on maternity leave. Things were a bit tighter but we learned to adjust and cope. We laid out a strict budget and had to stick to it to make sure everything got paid and we had enough left over to feed, clothe and clean up after baby. 

I was a little selfish in my concerns that from the day the baby arrives we will never talk about anything else and that I would not have any time for friends and personal pursuits. We were lucky to have quite a nice group of friends and family support. This allowed my partner and I to get out alone sometimes and spend some baby-free time together. We also agreed to an afternoon/evening off once a week for both of us. So, I get to play darts and hang out with the guys once a week and she goes for a pedicure or massage and her reading circle once a week. We also find it helps us relax and destress a little which also made for a calmer, happier baby. 

Taking on the responsibility of a little person is quite daunting and yes it does force you to grow up a bit faster, but it doesn’t mean that everything that went before falls away.  I was very cranky for the first few weeks as I am a light sleeper and my baby girl was on a 2 hour wake up and scream schedule. It didn’t take too long for her to get into a routine and within 6 weeks she was sleeping through the night. We took turns with my partner sleeping from 8pm to 2am. I handled the 10pm and 12am feeds as I am a night owl. I could then sleep through the night as my wife handled the 2am and 4am feeds and I was up at 6am to head to work. While it was a little bit draining, it worked well and we were both able to get enough sleep to function. It was not nearly as bad as I had been expecting. 

I was very quick to check on fingers and toes when my daughter was born. I’m not sure why we still do that, but it was actually a relief when I counted 10 of each digit. I had a terror in the pit of my stomach that something would be wrong with her. Fortunately, statistically, there is a small possibility of babies being born with genetic conditions or other problems that weren’t picked up while still in the womb. This didn’t stop me from worrying, but fortunately she was strong and healthy. Should something have been wrong, there are resources available to help parents deal with congenital defects, illness and inherited disorders. Speak to your doctor if you need help. 

I personally came from a background with an uninvolved father. He was present but did not actively get involved with child raising. My mum was the disciplinarian and also the one we went to for love and affection. I vowed not to take a back seat in my daughter’s life. I was scared to be a bad dad. My partner assured me that all I need to do was love my daughter and give her adequate attention and everything else would flow from there. She was so right! My daughter and I have a great relationship which I hope continues her whole life. I want her to know that she can always come to me and her mum with anything and that we would support her. 

Becoming a Dad has been a steep learning curve for me and I still learn new things every day. I have learned to be more responsible and to look out for my daughter as a first priority. Yes, my life has changed, but for the better! I still have fears and worry about my daughter every day, but I can deal with them. My partner is my strength and I talk to her about everything which has made a massive difference in allaying the fears I had when I found out my child was on the way.  Hang in there!