An Obstetrician’s Reflections on New Dads

Sunset picture of Dr. Whitehead's children with Dad Andrew fishing off pier
The Whitehead Children with Dad Andrew

One of the great privileges of our work as obstetricians is the opportunity to witness, again and again, the moment when a man becomes a father. During the pregnancy, he waits in a supporting role. He attends prenatal appointments and childbirth classes, assembles a crib, installs a car seat, and offers his partner whatever help and comfort he can. During the first minutes after the birth, he watches his partner hold their tiny infant against her skin while a nurse works to clear the baby’s nose and mouth and dry the skin. Someone calls out a few numbers (the Apgar Score) as the delivery staff focus on the needs of mother and baby. As it usually happens, after a time someone will say something like, “Are you ready, Dad?” indicating that he might want to hold his child for the first time.

“Are you ready, Dad?” What an enormous question! Most often, a new father’s face shows he understands its meaning far beyond the delivery room. From that moment on, thoughts about how to be a good father will be a part of every day.

Today, as we honor fathers, husbands, or others who have nurtured and guided our families, we want to thank you for trusting us to care for you and yours. Have a wonderful Father’s Day.

…And few thoughts from celebrity Dads about what fatherhood means to them:

“The nature of fatherhood is that you’re doing something that you’re unqualified to do, and then you become qualified when you do it.”–American author John Green

“The weird thing is that you’re just not a parent, and then you are. It takes your brain a couple hours to catch up to that.”–comedian Seth Meyers

“I think [fatherhood] changes your relationship with time. I just don’t have time to waste. You gotta be really deliberate with how you choose to spend your day, because those are the moments you’re away from your child.” –actor Mahershala Ali

“The best way of training the young is to train yourself at the same time. Not to admonish them, but to be seen never doing that of which you would admonish them.” –Plato