Fatherhood, easy or hard? Shura Taft gives us our answer
We’ve all got a dad, but being one is a completely different ball game.
We often hear about the experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and being a mother but detracting no praise for the mums of the world, not so much is said about fatherhood…
In the lead-up to Fathers Day, we sat down with TV and radio presenter Shura Taft and chatted all things goopy eyes, expectations and his almost 8month old son Ed.
TTM: You’ve recently become the new modern day dad! Talk me through it..”
ST: It’s actually ironic we’re talking here (Brunswick St) cause we’re just around the corner from where the little fella popped his head out only 7 and a half months ago at Freemasons Hospital. And I was in the middle of working actually, the Australian Open was on and we were booked in for a caesarian because he was in a breach position. So there I am, and I can’t really go to work and go ‘hey can you just put the tennis on hold for a couple of weeks while I have my son’. So it meant that I had the day of the birth off, thankfully, but I was back at work the next day!
TTM: That must have been hard! First child, and having to be at work..
It was actually quite a tough period, more so for my wife to be in the hospital alone during the day. But that was in January, and since then it’s been a rollercoaster. It’s everything you think it’s going to be and nothing like what you expected.
TTM: Hit us straight: Easy or hard?
Hardest thing I’ve ever done, and in some ways it becomes easy. I was someone who always claimed ‘I’m ready to be a dad’, and people around me would say the same things, “oh mate, you’ll be an amazing dad”, but when it actually happens it’s nothing like what you think its going to be.
I think that a lot of us spend our time thinking about being parents, and thinking about what is effectively being a parent to a 5+ year old. You think about kicking the footy with your son or taking your daughter to ballet class, or whatever it is, that’s what you picture being a parent. You don’t picture being up at 3am with a screaming baby thinking how do I stop this tiny human screaming! So the reality of it is a real slap in the face.
And the first few months are really tough, every parent will tell you that. Let’s be honest, you can love being a parent but you can say it’s bloody tough!
TTM: Do you think men have skewed expectations on fatherhood?
I think for a man, the first few months are a slippery slope. You’ve got to be careful to set your expectations to a normal level. Don’t expect to hold your baby and immediately go gaga over it. You shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t immediately connect. In the first few months they are just a baby, and your key focus is your wife.
For the man, in the first month or so just look after your wife. Because really, the baby doesn’t need you, it doesn’t need you at all.
TTM: So true. And you’re wife has been through such a traumatic and exhausting experience, 9months worth of pregnancy and then the birth, in your case a caesarian. How did Gemma go recovering from that?
She was actually pretty good! In the end, we had an amazing obstetrician, so she was in pain for the first few days and then beyond that she was really good, we were very lucky. For us, caesarian worked really well.
More than anything else, and it’s such a cliché, but when your child is healthy and your wife too, that’s all that matters. And then from that point on its just trying to get your lives back on track.
TTM: If that’s possible! How did you find the first few months? All that change…
As a father, as I said, the first few months aren’t about you but then the next few months start to really be about you, and you become almost number one.
A dad comes into his own at about 5months. They start to recgonise your voice, they start to recognize your face. If I walk in the room my son just beams and laughs, we’ve just got this great connection and that’s when it starts to be really special. We’re at a point now where the bond is real. And that’s when the love really grows.”
TTM: I heard you had a little trip to the emergency room… how scary is that?! I know so many parents that almost quarantine their children from germs, how do you feel about letting Ed get dirty and babyproofing?
Yeah look, each to their own. We’re very much the other way, we know he’s going to come into contact with germs and he’s going to get dirty, and that’s how you build immunity. We weren’t afraid to let people hold him. We want Ed to be a child that is comfortable around anybody, and anyone can pick up. Something I would really suggest is, you can get caught in a trap of listening to too much information, but you also cant be too careful with kids at that age.
TTM: And the emergency room?
So we were down at Sorrento over easter, and kids get goopy eyes, its just what happens. And Ed’s eye started to get really red and swollen, someone gave us one of those old wives tales and told us to put breastmilk in his eye, turns out that’s a really bad idea and he got an infection. Needless to say we ended up taking him to hospital in Frankston, and the told us it was pretty bad but to just keep an eye on him. The next day I was back in Melbourne for work and my wife calls me and says Ed’s got a temperature, and she’s taking him to hospital. Turns out the temperature was the wrong reading, but when she took him into the Royal Childrens Hospital they said his eye was terrible and that they were admitting him immediately. So it just goes to show, you can’t be too careful with kids that age! He ended up with a staph infection in his eye and had 3 days on a drip! He’s all good now though, but it was pretty harrowing!
TTM: You’ve had him in a Hawthorn jersey since birth, but he’s gotta walk before he can run hey! What’s the next stage of the journey?
We’ve just managed to get him to sleep through the night(and us!), and now we’re readying ourselves for two things; crawling and teething. He’s pretty happy to be on his back at the moment, and you don’t want to push kids into doing anything, you want to let them go at their own rate. He’ll start moving when he wants to move.. and then we’ll have a footy in his hands!
TTM: Final thoughts on Fatherhood?
It is the biggest life change you’ll ever make. You have to change your mindset and you do realize that your life is now just about this child. Everything that I do now is aimed at making sure he has the best life.