When I First Held My Son All I Felt Was Hunger

I had hoped that once I had children a primal dad instinct would kick in, furnishing me with all the skills and knowledge needed to fulfil the dad brief. I thought there might be a higher dad gear that I might smoothly climb into. Essentially operating on dad auto-pilot, confidently tackling all the dad challenges like hosepipe connectors and nanny tax.

The first indication that this was not the case was in the very early seconds of fatherhood. I had heard men recalling the moment they were first presented their child and talking about experiencing an intense wash of emotion and love. When I pictured this happening to me I imagined the feeling to be like a chemical euphoria, a high basically: a love-numbness in my limbs, the warm pleasant prickle of love-sweat on my skin.

I felt none of these. I remember the disappointment that I was not going through what many of my predecessors seem to have done. I’d clattered into the first dad hurdle.

I only felt peckishness. I’d subsisted off Hula-Hoops for the previous 36 hours. I am reluctant to admit that I was tired also, knowing that the deprivations I suffered are so incomparable to my wife’s they don’t even deserve to be in the same sentence.

As my dad-reflexes weren’t working I decided to copy a tactic from the classic dad playbook. I’d seen on One Born Every Minute that dads like to take their babies to the window of the delivery room to show them the world that they just arrived in. But I’d forgotten that the view from our room overlooked HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, where a parade of cancerous-looking lags had just loped out for a smoke.

I noticed the first traces of dad-instinct working the next day when we left the hospital and installed the Major into his car-seat. A bizarre paranoia borne of protectiveness swept over me that the road home had become a very long fairground dodgem ride with every fellow road-user hell-bent onto ploughing into us. Fleetingly I even saw the logic in those ‘baby on board’ signs.

In the week after the birth I saw other changes in my behaviour. An inability to remove my gaze from the Major for instance. I had spotted that his toes were tiny replicas of mine, hideous long toes that look like fingers on the end of our feet. It struck me then that the Major was a part of me, a small shard that had splintered off and therefore in need of unconditional love and attention.

I was wrong-footed by my son’s ability to sleep for long periods throughout the night. Assuming that I was required to tend to him in the small hours I’d fish him out of his basket and let him doze on my chest while I watched old golf footage that I had recorded. I had hoped to persuade his mother that the ambient green light of the televised fairways had a soothing effect on him, part of a longer-term strategy to secure golf, cricket and football viewing in the future.

It was watching a golf tournament that I properly clicked into gear as a dad. Some of the victorious players had gathered their families around them to join their celebrations. Their triumph was enriched by the presence of their children. Life was richer.

It had taken a few ill-dressed millionaires to understand, but now I knew what it was to be a dad. I looked at the little form curled up on my sternum. And there was a pleasant prickle on my skin.

Any good?

25 thoughts on “When I First Held My Son All I Felt Was Hunger”

  1. Funnily enough my husband could only be found with his head in the snack bag too – us women get the obligatory 2 bits of soggy toast to tide us by, you men get nowt – most unfair! Those first few days are wonderful though aren’t they as little bits of emotional attachment creep in and before you know it you can’t fathom how such a tiny person can inflame such love! #KCACOLS

  2. Ah, that’s sweet. V funny about the cancerous lags tho – what a romantic image ! The first run in the car seat is truly a moment – I was sick with stress ! #kcacols

  3. Oh that’s lovely, such a heart warming post, I even felt a little choked, yet I chuckled at the same time. What more could you want? I think it’s pretty natural for dads, and mums, to. It have that first second wave of love and and emotion. So much has changed and happened I think it can take our brains a little time to catch up. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday. Xx

  4. Lovely post and nice to be honest about feelings I think. You were bound to be hungry after that length of time. The realisation of the responsibilties of parenthood can be quite frightening but it’s so rewarding too. Thanks for sharing, loved reading this. #KCACOLS

  5. Really enjoyed reading this and through your point and view and experiences. It was a different but lovely read with some parts that made me laugh to myself. It’s amazing what a child can make you feel…hungry being a frequent one too hehe! #KCACOLS

  6. I’m a mum not a dad but I didn’t get that immediate love either, my dominant emotion was just shock at what had just happened!it was only when the midwives left us to it that I got the overwhelming love feeling I was waiting for. Ahh the first car ride is so scary, the first time we went on the motorway I refused to go any faster than 40!This is a funny but sweet story, thanks for sharing it xx #KCACOLS

  7. This is so sweet. I think ‘that’ moment is different for everyone isn’t it? I’m not sure if my husband felt it in those first moments when he was handed our son, I’ll have to ask him. But I do know he was hungry each time, I shared my toast with him! x #KCACOLS

  8. I find my children mainly drive me to drink more than food.
    But seriously, great post! My husband said recently that whilst labour and birth is undoubtedly pretty crazy for a mother, it’s no easy ride for a dad either. You just get woken up, usually in the middle of the night, and then off you go, having the weirdest day of your life.
    x Alice

  9. I remember being chuffed to bits getting toast and tea, then a shower, I thought it was all wonderful. Then my baby cried and I didn’t have a clue what to do, apart from kick myself for refusing to go to any baby groups beforehand. You did well:)


  10. I love this! Thank you for sharing! I think we are all overwhelmed by what we ‘should’ feel, especially with everything idealised in the media/social media etc. I just felt fear and panic when my baby was placed on my chest!! I didn’t know him. He was a stranger to me yet I was responsible for him. Life would never be the same, but as you say, that love just grows! #KCACOLS

  11. Such a lovely post! It’s not always instant. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. And I agree there’s nothing quite as terrifying as that first car ride home. #KCACOLS

  12. Oh that’s so sweet 🙂 I agree though. It doesn’t always come instantaneously and naturally. Parenthood can be a delicate whisper that tickles a few days or weeks later. It took me a while to bond with my daughter. But it’s a precious relationship

  13. You looked out onto the Prison.. haha! That gave me the giggles!! But yes.. It does get you at times you least expect! Prickles on your skin is a great description! #KCACOLS

  14. Aw I found this ridiculously funny. I love the part where you took your baby to the window to show him the prison. At least you were being accurate. Thank you for sharing, love your writing style. #KCACOLS

  15. This is so beautifully sweet.
    I think that instantaneous wash of perfect love is a little overdramatized to be honest. We’re meeting a brand new person and, upon that meeting, you are also slapped with this overwhelming sense of responsibility. It’s scary in the beginning. But, the love always come through. Even on the hardest nights, I find that familiar skin-prickling love washing over me. <3 #KCACOLS

  16. Lovely post – I don’t think I’ve met anyone, man or woman, who has felt that rush of emotions we seemed conditioned to expect. It’s nice to hear from a Dad’s perspective. Incidentally my husband looked so devastated the midwives told him that only I would get a hospital meal they took pity on him and brought him back a spare one. He was made up! #KCACOLS

  17. When you said you would take a leaf out of the One Born dads I thought you were going for to introduce the baby to the world of football manager or take them out to get chips.

    Thanks for your honesty. When I even hinted at the possibility that a euphoric rush was not guaranteed I nearly had my dad card revoked!



Leave a Reply