You may recall that previous guest blogger Matt Masterson has no soul, but he does have something else now: a baby. In a continuing series on guest parenting posts, Matt shares what it’s like to be a new dad as well as the ethical dilemmas involved when considering whether or not to raise your son as a Cincinnati Bengals fan.
Thanks again, Matt!
On October 25, 2010, at 12:50 a.m., my son Nathaniel Vincent Masterson was born. At 7 lbs 3 ounces he was the perfect size, at 20 inches he was the perfect length, and he had the most perfect head of hair. Those who know me know that I am not overly expressive of my emotions unless it involves the Bengals, Reds, or Buckeyes. Leading up to his birth my mom kept saying things to me like, “It is a love like you have never known before,” and “You will instantly be in love for the rest of your life.”
This is not anything I could ever imagine myself saying. EVER. And to be honest initially I did not feel that way. When the doctor first handed me Nathaniel and I looked at him, I was almost devoid of real emotion. This was disturbing to me. Where was this instant love that my mother spoke of? Why am I not crying? Am I soulless like some have suggested?
Turns out, I was simply overwhelmed. There were too many thoughts to hone in on the emotion of each of them. Was he ok? Was Jo ok? What happens next? Who do I take a picture of? How do I hold him? This is for real, isn’t it? You get the idea.
Upon handing Nathaniel to Jo, I saw the love that my mom spoke of. The irony was, I saw it in Jo before I felt it myself. From the minute she looked him in the eye you could tell she was completely sold. I was no longer the #1 man in her life.
The connection between mother and child is instant and unique. The connection between father and child is one that is forged over time. I knew I would grow to love him in a very unique way, but I also knew that I was not at that point yet. This was something I did not anticipate.
This realization led to my favorite moment of the birthing experience. After he was born and all of the pictures and tests were done, Jo could no longer stay awake. She wanted to hold him and love on him but she simply could not keep herself up. So she handed Nathaniel to me and promptly fell asleep.
This left me and only me to hold and comfort him for the next 45 minutes or so when they would take him to have a bath. This was the beginning of the bond I was expecting to instantly have. I held him, talked to him about all that was in store for him, and started setting my own expectations of what I wanted his life to be. He listened intently, eyes wide open for the entire time. I had the feeling that this may be the only time in his life that I would have his complete and total undivided attention and he embraced it. I will always remember those 45 minutes.
Since that day my life has been the blur of diapers, feedings and naps that everyone told me it would be. We are very fortunate, Nathaniel is an extremely easy going little guy. He rarely cries, loves getting baths, eats like a champ (he gets that from me), and sleeps well. He has had his moments of course but for the most part he has embraced his schedule and welcomed the routine of it all.
I cannot get over how quickly he has grown into a little man. He now has facial expressions, grabs anything within his tiny little reach, and smiles almost every time he sees Jo. Seeing a human being take something in for the first time is truly amazing. I could not have been prouder when he saw the HD TV for the first time and could not take his eyes off of it. That’s my boy!!! He is almost a month now and not a day goes by that I don’t see him learning something completely new.
With that I want to share some quick thoughts on birth, life, and being a dad:
- The birthing process was NOTHING like what I thought it was going to be. I was downright relaxed and bored for 90% of it. I watched an entire Sunday’s worth of football with my wife before it was time to push.
- The birthing process is also much more intimate than I thought it would be. For 95% of the pushing it was Jo, me, and a nurse. No doctor, no other nurses, no one but the three of us. This was surprisingly comforting. We were a three person team focused completely on one task. I was the good cop and she was the bad cop urging Jo to just keep going.
- If you are lucky enough to have a baby boy there is nothing as hilarious and pride inducing as their enormous purple cajones. I was told to be ready for it, but as a dad I could not help but grunt a little when the doctor held him up and told me to tell Jo what he was.
- I understand why people find out the sex of the baby ahead of time and agree with many of the reasons. But I would not have traded the surprise for anything. It was one of only a handful of times in my life where I was completely surprised.
- Giving birth to a baby is a truly heroic act.
- Babies smell good. I did not anticipate this.
- People are incredibly generous. Throughout the process I was truly overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends, family, co-workers, and the nurses and doctors. It confirmed what I sometimes lose sight of being inside the Beltway … people are inherently good.
- Diapers are expensive. Seems obvious but I had no idea.
- Breast feeding is amazing and amazingly painful. For something so natural you would think it would come a little easier.
- My son has yet to be alive for a Bengals win. This leaves me with an incredible moral issue. Do I subject him to this for the rest of his life or allow Papa Dower to make him a Bears fan? For now I am sticking with the Bengals but feel I might be bordering on child abuse.
- Baby farts sound like big people farts and that is awesome.
- I never thought I would care, but I can’t tell you how proud I am to have my fathers name as part of my name and my son’s name. I always thought it was cool growing up, I now think it is essential. It is truly part of who I am and now who he is. That connection to my father, his father, and his father’s father is something we can not ignore. I am a better man because of it and I know he will be also.
- Being a dad is absolutely hilarious. I can’t explain why, except to say I laugh out loud about 20 times a day because of something I do, Jo does, or Nathaniel does. Freaking hilarious!
So that’s what I’ve got. I can’t wait to see what the next days, months, and years have planned for my boy. And with that the best part of the post … PICTURES!!!!!
I may not have a soul, but at least I’ve got a kid.
Dads don’t let their sons grow up to be Bengals fans.
Mothers don’t let their sons grow up to be Creed fans.
Ready to do my civic duty!