To My Husband On His First Year As A Father

by Candace Alnaji
Originally Published: 
fatherhood new dad
kupicoo / iStock

Dear Husband,

Somehow, our son is almost a year old. Neither of us can believe it, I know, because we talked tonight about how quickly this year has gone by.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I called you, voice shaking with nervous tears to tell you that I had just left the doctor’s office and would be heading to the hospital shortly and needed you now, because our baby was on the way. It was just yesterday that you met me at the hospital, still in scrubs after having cut your own hospital shift short, your presence instantly calming my fears.

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since the day our son entered the world, but in fact, four seasons have passed since that rainy morning last spring. In that time, I’ve watched you become a father, but really, it didn’t take you that long. You’ve embraced fatherhood since the very moment our son was born.

I watched that afternoon as you changed his diaper for the first time without a hint of unfamiliarity. I watched you that night as you quickly rose the first time his cries startled us from sleep into movement in the bleary darkness of our hospital room.

When we were told on our third day in the hospital that our son would not be discharged with me because he was jaundiced and losing weight, I leaned into you as my world (and hormones) crashed down around me. While I cried the heavy, worried tears of a new mother thrust into a scary, unfamiliar circumstance, you were a pillar of strength.

When we struggled with breastfeeding, you listened as intently as I to the lactation consultants and fumbled with me as we tried to make it all work. While I pumped every hour to boost supply, you offered moral support and visited our son in the nursery as he slumbered under the lights of his incubator. When I cried, seeing him so small and alone in his glass case, you held my hand and cracked sweet jokes that made me laugh and appreciate the fact that this moment would pass.

And pass it did. During those early weeks at home, as I adjusted to motherhood, postpartum night sweats, midnight feedings, and bone-deep sleep deprivation, you were right there in the trenches with me beginning your journey through fatherhood. While it was difficult for me then to see beyond those sleepless nights, hourly feedings, and red-faced newborn wails, I still appreciated you. Only, at that time, I appreciated you the way a famished person lost in the desert appreciates water.

I drank in our time together in fervent gulps, filling an instant need, but not fully able to take the time to reflect on what you meant to me, and to us, a new family of three. You were the glue that held not only me together, but also our new family together. Somehow, your deep of well of strength was enough not only for you, but for all of us.

Watching you become a father has given me the opportunity to see all of the things I love about you in a new light. As our little baby has grown from a tiny helpless infant into a little man with a personality all his own, I’ve been so happy to see pieces of you shining in him. From his curly dark hair, joyful brown eyes, and sweet infectious grin to his smart, fearless disposition, I love knowing that the best of you will also be the best of him.

Watching you become a father has been like watching someone unearth a hidden talent they did not even know they had. I marveled at the way you fell into your new role with ease. While I was still adjusting to the fact that this new little creature we made actually had a name, you gave our boy sweet nicknames and created new traditions.

It was you who first made bath time cozy and fun. You were the one who spent extra time warming the bathroom for his baths and playing the baby Classical music station. You were the one who bought awesome night-lights that cast the moon and stars on our bedroom ceiling. While I was just trying not to screw up, you were making our days safe and fun.

And whenever I did make mistakes, you understood that a mother’s love and a mother’s guilt are stronger than any opinion anyone else could have on the matter. You gave me cards and crème brûlée and found a way to let me know everything be OK.

Certainly, there were difficult moments too. I had heard from mommy friends that the first baby can be tough on a marriage. In the hours and days immediately following our son’s birth, I couldn’t fathom ever being upset with you again. Inevitably though, long days, long nights, and frayed nerves sometimes caused tension, especially when you returned to work and my job focused solely on keeping our tiny human alive.

But still, as we grew into our new roles and new selves, we grew even stronger into each other. When I returned to work after four months of maternity leave, it was you who dried my tears and told me that he would still be my baby.

When I struggled with letting others help, you helped me be OK with letting go of the need to control everything.

Because of you, I know we will always be OK. You’ve helped me be OK from the moment our son was born. You made sure I took time to care for myself and made sure I never felt guilty about it.

Over this past year, our son has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve grown, too, thanks to him and you.

No, dear husband, I can’t believe nearly one year has passed since you became a father, but I’m so glad I’ve been along for the ride.

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