I always knew that I wanted to be a dad. There was never any doubt or question about it, but I was very clear about one thing: I had to wait until the right time in my life and for the right person to share that experience with. I met Lucy when I was 30. She was mum to two-year-old twins, Cooper and Rani. We fell in love, began a relationship and I soon became a step-dad. One of our shared visions was having a child together and I knew it would happen with Lucy when it was time.
In the pregnancy picture
When Lucy broke the news that she was pregnant, we just held each other in silence. In that moment, the dad in me was truly and deeply awakened. I was one of those dads-to-be who wanted to be involved in everything. I went to every single appointment and I loved that I was so part of the process. The idea of being at the birth never scared me. I was just curious and eager to learn and prepare as much as I could.
It wasn’t all easy, though. Lucy and I had some major challenges during the pregnancy. We had quite a bit of stress in our lives trying to manage the demands of our existing blended family and finances. I’m a wild idealist by nature. Our ‘imperfect’ bumpy ride did take a pretty heavy toll on me, so coming to terms with our struggles and sticking them out has been one of my greatest relationship and fatherhood challenges to date.
A star is born
We planned a home birth with a midwife and doula as our birth team. However, as it turned out, I ended up being Lucy’s primary birth-support person. I knew her better than anyone. It was a truly bonding experience for us as a couple and Lucy knew that I was completely there for her. I just stayed by her side, reassuring her and telling her how great she was doing.
Charlie was born at 1:14am, at 3.1kg and 50cm, safely on our lounge-room floor. It was just awesome! I’ll never forget the moment and the feelings that I experienced when I first held him in my arms. I felt a new and potent love that made my chest feel as big as the entire universe. I was proud, overjoyed and relieved.
After Charlie’s birth I started working from home part-time, so I was a very involved and hands-on dad from the beginning. That was my vision for fatherhood and Lucy was very encouraging. I loved getting to know Charlie and developing my relationship with him, and took every chance I could to spend time with him. It was amazing discovering who he was and learning how to meet his needs. Essentially, I created a role for myself as a dad that was active and fulfilling. Without consciously setting out to, I did this in my own ‘dad style’ that I just developed on the go.
A papa with passion
I have been so inspired by my own fatherhood journey and am now an educator, facilitator and mentor specialising in working with expectant and new dads. I recently founded Becoming Dad, an education and mentoring site for new and expectant dads and I facilitate Building Better Dads workshops, a comprehensive four week course for expectant fathers. This work is my passion! It’s so deeply satisfying supporting other men to be confident, capable and positively involved dads.
I encourage dads to not just survive, but thrive!
Darren Mattock is one of Australia’s leading expectant and new dad specialists, the founder and creator of Becoming Dad, and father to Charlie. Over the past 6 years, he has regularly facilitated birth preparation workshops for dads, fatherhood preparation courses and new dads support groups. Darren has also presented education and training sessions for midwives and birth professionals for a number of Australian universities as well as the Australian College of Midwives.
Article taken from Practical Parenting: May 23, 2013