It was about 10% instinctual, the rest has been the proverbial “building the plane while flying it.” Maybe 10% is too high. Then again, the CIA doesn’t believe in stating percentages as it sounds too firm. But, being a human with the ability to apply critical thinking, I think 10 sounds about right.
I’m not solely talking about knowing what to do in the first couple of months with a newborn— how to change diapers, calm her down, manage the schedule. I’m talking about being a father, making a connection, protecting a child, leading the family. Some of that existed naturally, in some areas more than others, but many of my actions the first two months came from a sense of duty rather than instinct or connection.
People talk often about how you ‘fall in love’ immediately when you meet the baby. I did have that. But I fell in love with the miracle which came from Meghan and our love for each other.
But that’s changed now. Around 2 1/2 months, Anabel started looking at me directly. She began to turn her head when I was speaking to Meghan across the room. She lifts the corners of her mouth to a curled smile when I sing to her. Her gaze has steadied. She initiates conversation with me, as incoherent as it may be.
I don’t believe it always starts out naturally for dads. Or, at least it didn’t exactly for me. I love Meghan, but did what I needed to do out of a deep love for my wife, and her instantaneous, instinctual love for our beautiful baby girl rather than my own instinct. I questioned how was I to be, to act, to serve, to lead?
That 10%, however, has risen steadily, day-by-day, and now it’s nearly impossible to think of my life without Anabel.
I love this girl.