Ask a dad who looks into the screen to see his baby the first time over a skype call. Ask a dad who returns home after an exhaustive day of work and driving to see the baby squeal in excitement to see him. Ask a dad whose hands his daughter refuses to part on the first day of the school. They all will tell you that they simply felt that something which they don’t know how to explain. As a matter of fact, the essence of fatherhood lies in many such small things.
As it’s the mother who is always given attention soon after the baby, the silent struggles that a dad undergoes often go unnoticed. And the fact that fathers either do not know to express their emotional struggles or perhaps do not want to, can leave them irritable or in an emotional confinement. Yes, not known to many, Paternal PostPartum Depression (PPPD) does exist!
Of course, I couldn’t disclose my secret fears to her because she’s pregnant. Neither could I to anyone else for I will be looked down upon for the father I was going to be or even for the man I was. Even if I share with someone, I will be counter-attacked, “You are going to be a dad, become responsible.” Thus, while my wife, the family and the extended families celebrated the good news, at a secret corner of my heart, I was afraid if everything is going to be alright.
Starting from the 1st of June until the 18th of June, I am plunging into a bold attempt in bringing to light, the emotions behind being a father. I say bold because I shall leave behind the superior tag of a ‘mother’ to explore the deepest secrets of fatherhood.
Sometimes, we expect but it doesn’t happen. Sometimes, we least expect but it happens. The second kind is more interesting. We breath, eat and sleep as though we are aware of what happens inside our bodies. But, we are not even close to being aware of what happens within. This is the first enlightenment that the news of pregnancy brought with it. Developmental biology used to be my most favourite subject during my master’s days. I’ve studied every detail of zygote, embryo, blastula and gastrula; yet when it was happening in reality inside my body, I had no clue of it. It – the miracle of nature – seemed mysterious to me for the nth time. It could have happened with any set of genes of the hundreds of the sperm cells. To put it in a funny way, one man is just half zygote away from becoming another.
I have slept on the sofa with a book on my head and lights turned on till the next morning. There were days when we skipped meals, forgot all about food or simply didn’t care about eating. Once, dinner didn’t strike us until 11 pm. We had to search for late night home delivery food services and finally the pizza boy knocked our door at 12. I wouldn’t proudly justify that I lived my life the way I wanted to. As a matter of fact, I lived without a way to do it then. Life before motherhood didn’t have a structure. It didn’t have a system. It had most of the essential ingredients of life. Yet, it wasn’t right somewhere.
I cherish it everyday now as my little girl simply cannot be away from me. I am cooking in the morning hours. She begins with cooing which slowly turns to soft whimpers and then all of a sudden to a loud cry which will intensify to a high-pitch scream. The father tries his luck from toys to acting a clown but she wouldn’t even open her eyes to witness his farce until I take her on my hips when her cry graph falls off to the X-axis from its highest peak in less than a fraction of a second. I turn to her and ask, ” What made you cry like that?” She looks up at my face with a mischievous smile to let me know, “Just for this Amma; to take this place on your hips.” And everything of your being melts!