For many mothers, bonding with their babies is instant. They’ve had little humans growing inside them for nine months, and the second those babies arrives, so does the connection. But birth isn’t always the same bonding experience for dads (and some moms).
So, one dad has decided to throw some much-needed light on how men bond with their babies. Penning a heartfelt letter to his 3-year-old daughter, Lola, dad of two Patrick O’Malley explained why he at first struggled to form a connection with her when she was a newborn.
Although the 30-year-old from New Zealand originally wrote the touching letter just for his daughter, he decided to share it online in a bid to show that some of the strongest father-child relationships can take a bit of time to grow.
The letter begins with a touching countdown, breaking his daughter’s life into seconds, minutes, weeks, fortnights, months, and years to account for every moment he has loved her.
“177 weeks. 88 fortnights. 40 months. 3 years. This is how long I have loved you,” he wrote.
“You were born a baby. Deep, I know. But it’s important. If I had known how much I would grow to love you I would have tried to capture the moment of your birth eloquently,” he continued. “It was long, we were tired and you did not want to come out. I remember being so terrified, and I can remember the rubber like quality of the umbilical cord as medical grade scissors bounced off the cord with my shaking hands. If only I had known how much I would love you.”
He goes on to explain that though some parents fall instantly in love with their babies, for others, it can take time for bonds to grow.
“Is that an awful thing to say? Or is it so expected that we feel an instant connection with our children, that society puts us in a position of feeling like an inadequate person?” he wrote.
Confessing that at first he feared having a girl and worried whether he’d make a good parent, the dad went on to explain that, like many parents, in the beginning, he was consumed by worry over every cough and splutter.
“All of this happens so fast. One minute you are lying down, the next you are sitting up, then crawling, then walking, then…….words,” he wrote.
And it was his daughter’s ability to communicate with him that ultimately changed their bond.
“If only I could comprehend the power that one syllable would have. How it would mold to me and in turn re-purpose me for something greater. If only I had known that hearing my name called out when you ran towards me arms wide open, would cleanse my soul after a tense or stressful day,” he continued.
“The scariest thing about this is you blink and it is gone, one moment moves onto the next…soon these moments will be memories and a few pictures in an album,” he added.
“When did I fall in love with you? From the moment I first met you. I just didn’t know it yet,” the dad concluded his heartfelt letter.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, O’Malley explained that he wrote the letter one night after trying to make sense of all the thoughts in his head.
“I wanted to share this because, as a male, you don’t carry the baby for nine months and when they are born you often don’t have an immediate attachment,” he explained.
By sharing the letter, he hopes to encourage other parents to open up about their bonding experiences.
“It’s important to show people that it’s normal to not have it right away and that females can feel this way too.”
The dad has since welcomed a 7-month-old son, Arlo, and believes sharing his feelings about the connection with his daughter helped him prepare for the arrival of his son.
“It was a similar situation with him, especially because I have such an amazing relationship with my daughter, but this time around, I know I won’t be disappointed, because I am going to absorb every single little moment.”