Finding Fatherhood

We talk to Simon Taylor from Winchester, dad to Ella 9 months, to find out about his pregnancy and birth experience.

The thought of fatherhood never really entered my mind. In fact, looking back, society was actively persuading me to question whether parenthood had any value at all. But while I didn’t seek fatherhood out, it found me.

I had been with my beautiful girlfriend for four years when she whispered in my ear, while enjoying the last of the summer evening and our bottle of red, that I was going to be a dad. And while she looked at me smiling it was as if the hand of fate was pointing its long bony finger at me saying ‘what do you think?’
Having never known how I would feel about the prospect until I was put on the spot like this and with Jodie waiting for my response, I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into.  Yet somehow the idea of becoming a dad suddenly became the best prospect I’d ever chanced upon. I beamed back at my partner saying, “we’re having a baby” and we have never looked back!

It was a very hot summer and my sympathies were with Jodie who was finding it hard to cope with the heat. I did my best to keep her cool, from buying more fans to storing a supply of munchies, maltesers, crunchies, marshmallows and ice cream to make ‘on-demand’ speciality milkshake masterpieces.
I would sit up at night while Jodie recited to me all the pregnancy facts and figures, showing me pictures of babies in the womb, and talking to me about baby names. It was fascinting to see our baby kicking and moving inside Jodie’s stomach We didn’t know if our baby was a girl or a boy but I was convinced it was to be a boy.
It was as if we were both hibernating and preparing for our new lifestyle. It was a nice time, as it was  ‘Jodie and me’ time and we were both going through the unknown together – I was there for her and she was there for me.

Jodie had gone two weeks overdue and I decided to take fate into my own hands. As I was now an expert now in old wives’ tales, I took Jodie for a mile long walk to a local curry house for a vindaloo, then we walked home to enjoy a night of passion. It worked – labour began! Jodie grabbed her stopwatch and I attached her TENS machine – at last, I was going to be a dad!

I won’t go into too much detail of the labour, but I will tell you about the highlights. Enjoying the biggest fried breakfast I have ever had – my last guilt free feast – before leaving for the hospital. Seeing a side to Jodie I never knew, so strong yet calm.  Having a little kip in the birth poolroom.  Watching, with excitement, the head crowning and then cutting the umbilical cord and the ultimate highlight – holding my beautiful baby girl for the first time. Nothing can prepare you for this feeling and you wouldn’t want it to either.
A first grandchild on both sides of the family, Ella received a very big welcome – in our very small flat! Relatives appeared from all over and we celebrated all day, with Ella sleeping through most of it. Photo after photo was taken.  We listened to music, opened presents and ate a takeaway.  It was a fantastic day and one we will never forget!
Nobody seems to do a very good job at selling the responsibility of fatherhood to young men of my generation. We need to be told that fatherhood is not a burden.  The way I see it is that fatherhood teaches you to use more effectively the few child-free times that appear now and then.  It enhances quiet moments, but more importantly allows you to build things out of lego and make chocolate crispy cakes all over again.

Fatherhood has taught me things I never knew about myself and tested me to my limits. It has also been a warm constant, full of reassurance and moments of wonder. All it has cost me is my singleness, that suppressed lonely feeling between relationships, that spare time we call ‘freedom’ yet waste on computer games, reality TV or just thinking about doing something. We only have one life, and fatherhood is something that should be embraced, not feared.