- Oliver Cresswell is a 27-year-old British expat, new dad, philosopher and metal-head who married a gorgeous Nova Scotian girl.
I recently became a father. I had always envisioned myself becoming one eventually, that one day I would have children, but now it has finally happened. I never saw myself having baby, though. I could never picture myself holding such a little and fragile thing, but now I hate putting him down. And having a child has brought to the forefront of my mind two very important things: first, women are awesome; and second, life is one crazy, mystical experience.
Honestly, to some degree I was jealous of the experiences my wife had while she was pregnant. As her body made its necessary changes, some dramatic, others not so much, it was a wonder to watch as her whole body focussed itself into creating another life. And as she grew so did our baby, and eventually she could feel him kicking. That may sound perfectly normal because we hear it so often, but how often do we really consider that she was being kicked from the inside? The sensation of a grown baby rolling around and shifting its position will always be a mystery to me, because I can never experience that. No man can. And I felt like I was missing out on so much because of that. Women are lucky. But then I did get to have my own experiences that she couldn’t—I would put my ear to her belly and listen to his heartbeat; feel him right up against my cheek.
Then there’s the birth itself. The experience at the IWK, by the way, was fantastic. The nurses and staff there were amazingly attentive, listened to what my wife needed and did all they could to sooth an intense stay. And it was intense. My wife was in labour for a total of 33 hours before our beautiful baby boy was born, and I have no idea how she did it. I would have thrown in the towel long before that, but she didn’t. She quaked and trembled, and laughed and cried, and after a breath and a pause brought another human being into this world. There’s only one, very special kind of person who can do that, and I love mine more for witnessing my wife become one.
Even now, after the birth, my wife’s special relationship with our son continues. More than anything he wants her warmth and her comfort. I change him every chance I get, sing to him, attempt to play with him, read to him. I am, however, acutely aware of the fact that he could survive without me, but not his mother. Not only did she give him life, she now continues to sustain him; they are a symbiotic pair.
All of these changes and all the love that has been brought into the world by just one tiny human, has only reinforced the fact that life truly is an incredible experience. As Wittgenstein said, “it is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists”. And even only four weeks in it is easy, too easy, to get lost in the routine of it all—the changing of diapers, the feedings, the crying, the sleeping and the repeating—and forget that a life has just been created. The little hands and feet that I kiss every day, and the eyes that look at everything with great wonder, were, only months earlier, one single cell, half myself and half my wife. Then when I think that this little baby will be soon walking and talking, it gets quite overwhelming, because none of it makes any sense. Indeed, we seem to have been wrong all along: one and one don’t make two, but three.