All of this helped me feel like I’d even prepared myself emotionally. I was excited – especially for the moment I’d get to hold him for the first time. I did not believe it possible to be more ready or adequately prepared to be a dad. But then it happened.
I became a dad.
I was not excited. I was not prepared.
I remember it. The moment I peered over the hospital-green curtain they use for C-sections right as he was pulled up into the world, and I saw what could only be described as some type of gooey alien spawn in a state of intense distress (crying for his alien mother, perhaps? She would be dangerous! Was she close by? I did not know).
Entirely contrary to my imaginings of seeing my own child for the first time – the overwhelming sense of pride mixed with tears of joy and awe all at once – the only feelings I felt were those of a strange primal origin, which communicated four things to my brain and limbs:
“What is that? Why is it purple? That’s not yours. Run.”
Now, of all the situations where you want your fight or flight response to kick in, the birth of your own child is not one of them. Thankfully I chose the flight option. There are not many things as irredeemably shameful as getting put in a chokehold by the doctor who just delivered your son, even if he is weirdly sexy and looks like he belongs on Shortland Street.
In the end I resisted the urge to flee, and upon further inspection it did indeed prove to be a human baby, my baby, and a pretty standard one at that. And after another five or so minutes of devastating emotional bewilderment – partly due to the impending disappearance of evenings at the pub – I couldn’t have been happier to be holding my goopy wee son on my chest, singing his oriori to him and telling him how much his whānau and tīpuna loved him.