So for me, an idiot, when the baby popped out, my initial reaction was out-loud shock. From then on, I think I played a game of catch-up in actually bonding with the baby. I loved her, no doubt, but couldn’t quite get used to realising I had a daughter. Even the words “my daughter” got caught in my throat for weeks afterwards.
Women, on the other hand, seem hard-wired for this. Sara was amazing; like she had been born to be a mom. Sara expressed breastmilk so that I could do the midnight and early feeds, in order to help out. I loved that midnight feed. Layla and I sat up and watched everything from Little Robots and Dora the Explorer on Nick Junior to the Ashes, Dutch football, Indy Car racing, whatever was on TV – and together, we had a great time. I missed it when she started sleeping through the night; my little girl was already growing up. Then again, I got to sleep all night, which was great.
I’m also very busy at work running my own production company, but I always planned on taking one day a week off so that I could be with Layla. Although I haven’t done every Tuesday, I have done 75% of them, and I think that has really helped. On these days, Sara can keep her brain active, get out of the house, work – whatever she wants.
Time alone with Layla taught me how to do all the baby things: changing nappies, cooking, dressing and shopping. It’s great to be a real part of her life, and for me, that’s more important than work.
At first it was hard for me to leave Layla, but knowing she would enjoy being with her Dad, I forced myself. While I’m usually a control freak, I made a concerted effort to not tell how to be a mom or to be like me. I tried to give him as little instruction as possible and let the two of them work it out.
This has its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand they play heaps more games (mainly because Daddy doesn’t have all the other domestic duties when he’s with Layla) but, on the other hand, sleeping, eating and bathing are all on a strict ‘whenever I feel like it, Daddy’ routine.
For more information see Fatherhood or Parenting.