Loving your new baby

2015-12-14 - 427 words, approximate reading time: 2 minutes

A lot of parents say they feel an overwhelming love for their child at the moment of birth.

This didn’t happen for me.

Ryu was born by emergency c-section four days after his mother’s water broke. We were both exhausted. All I remember feeling was relief that the ordeal was over. That we could go home soon.

Kei was born two years and twenty four days later by elective cesarian. This time we were fine. I was happy that there were no complications, and that he was healthy.

There was never an outpouring of emotion. If there’s a switch that’s supposed to flip at the exact moment you become a father, I didn’t get one.

The thing you bring home from the hospital isn’t emotionally engaging. It drinks, cries, shits, sleeps and occasionally needs a cuddle. It’s freaking ugly too.

The connection starts small. After a few weeks it gives you perhaps fifteen consecutive minutes a day of real interaction. Of looking in you in the face, of tracking you around the room, of being perplexed at the weird faces you’re making. It might even smile at you.

One of the sweetest sounds you’ll ever hear is it laughing for the first time. Babies laugh easily. They don’t need a clever set up or a witty punchline. A funny-sounding word or just the same word at different tones can have them in hysterics.

It will love learning new things. You’ll watch it discover, in utter amazement, that it has control over its limbs, one limb at a time. It will roll, crawl and walk. It will be so happy about walking that one of it’s new hobbies will be running around in circles screaming in unbridled joy.

It will learn to sign, if you teach it. It will learn to talk. It will wise up to your tricks and want to control what it eats and wears. It will start negotiating with you. It will ask you how your day was. It will have three-hour long tantrums. It will tell you it loves you. It will apologise for the tantrums if you show it how to say sorry.

A couple of weeks ago, Ryu and I entered a cafe and saw a mum smack her three-year-old, hard. The boy started crying. I’m ashamed to say that I stood there dumbfounded, not sure how to respond.

Ryu walked to the boy directly, put his hand on his arm and said “you OK?”.

At that moment, I was so proud I thought my heart might burst in my chest.