It’s not often we see a grown man remove the "tough guy" stigma and shed a few tears.
Those moments are usually reserved for Super Bowl wins, award shows and maybe reality TV episodes, but we love when we get to see the softer side of a man that’s only revealed when a child comes into the world. But like anyone experiencing the not-so-pleasant joys of labor, any minute leading up to a baby’s arrival is one full of anxiety, excitement, and sometimes, a surprise or two.
As a mother, I can easily say that children do indeed change you for the better. I’ve loved the quote “A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, a home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten and the future worth living for” since joining the Mommy Club back in ‘09 because it’s pretty accurate, but I wanted to get the flip side and ask a few men what their thoughts were on fatherhood.
I was particularly interested in hearing how witnessing the arrival of their sons or daughters changed their perspective on life, so I picked the brain of five awesome fathers I know to get some answers. Check them out below.
Irving on the birth of his daughter, Sofia Catalina:
Where do I start? It’s takes a real man to be able to deliver a baby, especially when it’s your own. So many things can go wrong, but all you can do is stay positive. There is nothing more beautiful than to be front row and witness life being born. Me and Carol used a midwife, so our birth was natural–no pitocin or epidural were used. It was a one-on-one experience and I had to be there in the moment and make sure I was her back bone. The times she felt that she couldn't do it, I never once gave up on her. I helped in making her realize that we as a team could do this.
Birth is not a one-sided journey–you should always have a partner (husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, family member), someone that will help you progress. The whole journey changed my relationship with Carol for the better and it also made us stronger as a couple. It made us love our daughter so much more. I think it changed a lot in me. I don’t just have to worry about me; I have to worry about my daughter. Any decision I make that can negatively affect her. I don’t go out as much and when I spend time with friends, I try and spend more time with friends who have kids because they understand what you’re going through. I’m so excited to be able to mold my daughter into something great and see what kind of person she will become.
Rob on being a father of the Fantasic Four:
During labor, a lot of things were running through my mind. I kept telling myself not to cry, but instead be happy that my first born is coming into the world. The minute I saw my first born arrive, I knew that my life was changing. I immediately cried and realized that I am a father. I considered myself a father raising my stepson at eight months, but to see your son born is a totally different feeling. It is a feeling until this day that is indescribable.
Fatherhood is a great feeling, especially to four beautiful kids. I feel blessed to have come from a big family. I came from one myself, but I didn’t imagine I would have a big family of my own. My fiancé and I get the crazy looks when we tell people we have four children, but again, it’s the biggest blessing.
Big Tim on being a father to his junior, Little Tim:
In a word, “renewed” like I was being born. It switched my whole mindstate. It’s like I instantly went from being a man, to now me being a father, protector, overseer, and future planner. When my son took his first breath, everything changed. I can’t say it was overwhelming, because I was ready for it, because I had months to prepare to be a father.
When I held him, I felt an overabundance of joy, happiness, pride, and for the most part, relieved because he made it. No parent wants to feel that ever. (Note: xoJoy and Big Tim’s son was born footling breech and she went into cardiac arrest during a caesarean section.)
It was one of those times where my faith purely carried me through to the next hour.
JJ on life with his son, Ethan:
I was there the entire birth and I originally wanted to get my son everything the moment he was born. Within days, I got his footprints tattooed on my chest around my heart as a pledge to be the best dad I could be. I think the first year of his life going through court and having to fight made me realize that he was indeed special and I would fight for him every minute I can. I then became more spiritual and began pushing for a family atmosphere. Fatherhood has its challenges and changes as the child grows, especially when you and the mother are not together, however, each moment I spend with my son, our bond continuously develops and I am thankful for that.
The first relationship a child has is with his mother. Therefore to me, fatherhood is a supportive and firm role where you lead and also give support to the mother in the overall development of the child. I hope to give my son a life that wasn't given to me. Be there and be active regardless of the relationship between his mother and I. My biggest wish is to help him create his own legacy and support him along the way as he chases his dreams.
I was anxious to become a father. I come from a large family, so I was ready to add to that with my own children. I wasn’t afraid to see my sons come into the world, but I was actually scared for you because I didn’t know what could happen.
There’s a love you have for your child the minute you hear “I'm pregnant,” but that love hits a high when you see the birth of that baby and even then, it’s a feeling that has no limits. It changed my outlook on the world and it was seeing them come into the world, that brought me joy and peace. They were a light and I have clarity on life because of them. I make better decisions and I'm a better man because of my boys.
If these stories don't have you in your feels, my favorite celebrity story would have to be from Iman Shumpert, who by the way has been over the moon and back since his junior, Iman Tayla Shumpert Jr has come into the world.
Junie’s (TT and Iman’s nickname for their little one) unexpected birth, coming one month earlier than anticipated, and Shumpert’s frantic and very emotional 911 phone call is proof of how frightening, but beautiful, the experience can be, especially if you aren’t even in the hospital!
Calling that moment in their home “an assist [he’s] never going to forget,” Shumpert told the story of how Teyana was going into labor in their bathroom; calling his daughter the best Christmas present he’s ever received.
Iman: “She’s telling me, ‘I’m not going to make it to the hospital,’ but I’m like, ‘You got to make it to the hospital because I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what to do.’ It was just time for her to come, so we counted to 10 and she did her [mimics breathing exercises]. She pushed and the head came out.”
Teyana: “He’s way too calm.”
Iman: “I wasn’t that calm. It was like finishing a long marathon. [Cries] And Junie was right there.”
Teyana: “She was ready to show us what love really, really, really looks like.”
And after playing his part as Superhero Dad and Supportive Fiancé, it’s easy to see why. Shumpert is the real MVP!
Do you know a man who did a 180 on his life once becoming a dad? Shout ‘em out, show them some love, and tell us why in the comment section below!