by William Schwan about his daughter
Becoming a new dad has come with plenty of emotions: excitement, all consuming love for our soon to arrive daughter, and FEAR, of so many new things, but this pandemic is the most challenging fear of all.
In the coming weeks, I will be a first time father. The news 9 months ago had my partner and I dancing in the living room with pure excitement and joy. While those emotions have only grown as the due date approaches, I have noticed new feelings welling up to the surface. Throughout our pregnancy I have learned a type of worry that I have never experienced. How will I protect this delicate little child from the perils of the world? I know all experienced dads will reassure me that this fear and worry is normal, and will likely never fade but man, it’s new to me.
Clearly this anxiety is playing out in strange ways, as I have become the old man shaking his cane at the reckless drivers in our neighbourhood, driving 80 in a 40 zone. When I see a child ride by on their bicycle without a helmet, I have this strange urge to rush out and put one on them. The most challenging fear of all is due to the current pandemic. How do I keep my daughter safe, in her most vulnerable first moments. This has led my partner and I to make some seriously difficult decisions. Who can visit our baby?
The global pandemic has created a bizarre fear that my trusted family and friends pose a threat to the well-being of my child. They were there for all of our most important moments, achievements and failures alike, but now we need to tell them all to stay away, for an unclear amount of time. How do you tell your Dad that he can’t visit his first grandchild, or that your mother-in-law shouldn’t come over to help her daughter recover from birth?
My partner and I have discussed this problem at length, asking the questions: What risks are worth taking? How much exposure is too much? Does denying visits impact our daughter negatively? All we have learned is that there is no right answer, no perfect medium that ensures safety to our daughter while embracing the love and support of our network. Someone will always lose, and as a new dad I am learning that I will never lose her. I have a new number one, and my wife and I settle into a distant second place.
We have come to the conclusion that we need some support, as being a new parent feels overwhelming and the unknowns of the next few weeks loom large. We have not granted carte blanche, but rather placed some compromising restrictions. Only immediate family will be allowed to visit. Everyone must be symptom free, hands washed and wear a mask at all times. Kisses will only come from her mom and dad. My partner and I must also avoid unnecessary trips, or outside exposure. Once she has her vaccines in 3 months we can re-evaluate our stance, and the conditions of the world, but until then, lovingly stay away. So while we have yet to conquer our fear, I think we are learning the first lesson of parenting, learning to live with it.
If only protecting her was as easy as buying baby steel toe boots.