Birth is a beautiful, painful, glorious, gruesome, fabulous, chaotic process - the memory of which, just like any other memory, fades over time. The wish to capture those precious first moments has given rise to an entire industry - birth photography.
Some parents-to-be choose to take their own pictures, and others decide to hire a professional photographer, but either way having an enduring image of those first moments with your new baby are priceless.
Even though you remember how you felt, having that point in time captured forever never fails to reinforce those emotions. There is something extraordinary about being able to hold that point in time in your hands and have that swell of emotion build in your chest as you look down on the image.
While the majority of moms are present at the moment of their child's birth (remember some women become moms in ways other than through giving birth) not all dads are able to get there in time so that “pleased to meet you” moment can occur minutes, hours, or even days or weeks, or months after their child has entered the world.
Enjoy sharing the emotion of some fathers as they meet their baby for the very first time.
15 Hello Sailor
This is the heartwarming moment that sailor Stuardo Juarez met his baby daughter on Memorial Day 2012. What is clear in this image though is the fact that this meeting is bittersweet. There is the happiness of finally meeting your child in person for the first time tinged with the sadness that you have not been able to be there for those first precious weeks.
It's hard to imagine unless you have been there, how hard it must be for a couple expecting their first child, to be separated for most of the pregnancy and for the parents to be apart for the birth.
Not only do the members of the armed forces serve their country, they do so while sacrificing precious time and important moments with their families. Both the service personnel and their families give up a great deal when they join the military.
14 Dads Arms First
Sometimes it is the dad who is the first to hold the baby. If an emergency cesarean is necessary then mom can be under anesthetic and in some cases, depending on the reasons for the c-section, it can be many hours before she can meet her newborn. On these occasions, dad gets to have the first cuddle, and if their child has come into the world in the midst of a medical emergency, it can be even more of a relief than usual to hold their child.
The mom of this little cutie said of this moment:
"She was in the NICU, and he was the first to hold her. I was still recovering from an emergency c-section. I actually didn't get to hold her until 22 hours after she was born. He told me his first thoughts were 'Omg, Omg, Omg.' Then he fell in love."
13 Double Trouble
It is easy to forget that dads have a significant role to play when mom is, justifiably, the focus for the birth and the immediate aftermath. This can be especially true when your baby, or in this case babies, are in the NICU.
This dad's face says it all. This is his big moment when he gets to bond with his children for the first time by providing that essential skin-to-skin contact. His face is full of happiness with just a touch of fear, you can almost hear his thoughts - “Wow, this is fantastic. Am I doing this right? Oh my goodness, there really are two of them to look after at once.” Most of all though there are the exhausted contentment and joy that comes with going through the intense birth experience and finally meeting the children who will hold your heart in their hands forever.
12 First Timer
This dad’s own words say it the best.
"I immediately felt different. Like I wasn't living for me anymore. I was third now. Fourth, actually, if you include my dog. When the Dr. was done doing whatever it is she was doing, she said, 'Everything looks good. You can take him to mom now.' The only problem was, I had never held a baby before. 'How do I, um, grab him?' I asked. She showed me how to scoop him up, and I carried him over to my wife, or 'mom' as she was now referred to, when our doula snapped this picture. I put him on mom's chest and said the only words appropriate for the situation: "I am your father." His name being Luke and me being a huge Star Wars fan, it just seemed appropriate."
11 Hey Papa
Not all of the photographs of dads meeting their babies for the first time focus on the father. This excellent image captures dad and baby, but the focus is absolutely on how this new tiny member of the human race is looking up at dad.
It never ceases to amaze me how soon a newborn can go from being scrunched up in a world of strange and eerie sound and lights and through the shock of being ejected from that warm comfy place to being a perky alert person taking in everything around them.
Newborns have a visual range of approximately eight to 15 inches. Just the right distance for them to see a face when they are being held. Apparently, this little lady is already fascinated by dad's face.
10 More Than Special
Sometimes, for some people it can be effortless indeed to take the entire getting pregnant, baking a baby for nine months and popping out a happy, healthy bundle of joy at the end of the process for granted. When parents have had to jump through multiple hoops to get pregnant or have lost babies before they are able to get to know them, having a live healthy newborn at the end of nine months can be an extra special moment.
As the mother in this photograph was able to tell us:
"After our first child, Faith was born straight into heaven at 38 weeks in 2005, the birth of our incredible, perfect and healthy son, Jonah 18 months later was all the more beautifully moving and miraculous." -Lisa Hackbarth
9 Love Is The Drug
Sometimes it 's hard to find the appropriate words to go with an image, especially when the photograph in question says it all without words.
Just look at the pure happiness on this dad's face. Who needs words when you have a facial expression like that to say everything.
If there were a book to describe all of the human emotions, you would find this guy's picture next to the entries for ecstatic, joyful, elated, jubilant, proud and bursting with fatherly delight. If this is not the face of someone who is high on life, I don’t know what is.
Not only that but have you noticed the baby's contented little smile as well? This little one is obviously just as happy as dad is right now, warm and safe and content in daddy's arms.
8 Pleased To Meet You
It is hard to choose favorites when writing a piece like this. In fact, it is hard to whittle down all of the beautiful “dad meeting babies for the first time” photographs out there to just fifteen for this article. However, this one is definitely in my top three, if not my favorite.
There is something so beautiful about this image I can’t really put it into words.
First of all, you have a mom, who has just gone through the process of giving birth and has that tired but elated and totally content aura about her. Then you have the still wet top of the newborn's head and last, but by no means least you have a dad.
What an expression! All of the love and amazement and euphoria it is possible to feel and then some. A truly perfect moment.
7 A Proud Moment During Pride
During Pride Week 2014 Kathy, this baby's surrogate mother, gave birth to Frank and BJ’s son Milo.
The high school teachers from Toronto both wanted children, and when they’d learned more about surrogacy, they went through a selection process and chose Kathy to be the woman to carry their child. The couple attended appointments with Kathy, and they decorated the nursery in their home in anticipation of bringing their baby home.
Kathy and her husband and Frank and BJ were all at baby Milo's birth, and the midwife in attendance told the excited couple to take their shirts off as the baby's head was crowning. By doing this, they were ready to receive their son with skin to skin contact as soon as he came into the world and this image is the moment when that happened.
6 The Young Ones
Age, race, sexual orientation, none of it is at the forefront when you become a parent; you are first and foremost mom and dad. Whether you have an established family already or if this is your first child. If you have an entire community of support behind you, or you are entirely on your own, the joy of meeting your child is universal. As the father of this beautiful little bundle of joy said:
"I was 21; she was 19. We were newlyweds, we were brand new to the Air Force, it was our first time living on our own, and we were 2,000 miles away from home with no family. We were both scared and super excited. That day was one of the greatest days of my life."
5 A Daddy At Last
Sometimes a newborn is a symbol of triumph over adversity, as in this case where the couple had lived through a horrific time of infertility and miscarriage.
Because mom is the focal point for the physical process of pregnancy loss, she is usually the focus of the emotional process, too.
"After nine years of infertility and helping me keep it together while I endured ten miscarriages, my sweet husband let all of his emotions out as he embraced his son right after he was born. This picture says so much of what a relief it was for him to finally have a child, and that he finally made it here safely after such a long hard road. It shows all the emotions that men carry with infertility where it usually is not shown. Pure joy to finally be a dad!" -Karmann Clements Wennerlind
4 Dad Steps In
It doesn’t need to be an emergency C-section for dad to get first cuddles. This mom, Amanda Sims McLoughlin says:
"This photo makes me smile every time. I had a very long labor that ended with a cesarean. While I wanted so much to meet my little girl, it was awesome to have the opportunity to see Christopher bond with her while I was getting stitched back up. Those two make my life the amazing ride it is."
You can see why it makes her smile every time. That intense stare between dad and baby, it’s like they are swapping all kinds of telepathic messages between each other! It also goes to show that just because your birth is not what you expected there is no reason why you can’t still have those meaningful moments that are captured for a lifetime in a photo.
3 Simple Yet Complex
You do not always have to capture a person's face to capture the intense emotion of a moment. Take this photograph for example. Just the top of dad's head, a tiny piece of the nose and just the slight inclusion of a bit of cheek but you can look at this image and feel the intensity of the love that is washing over him.
Those first moments of awe and wonder do not need detail, they do not need professional photographers, and they do not need fancy lighting or unique staging and this image proves that.
The most simple of pictures capturing the most intricate and beautiful flood of emotions possible. The day the entire world changes for you forever encapsulated in one moment in time.
2 A Secret Sadness
This photograph captures a father cuddling his newborn daughter for the first time. That in itself is enough to include it on the list. What is not apparent though is the story behind the image.
You see this is Glenn Sheppard holding his daughter who was delivered by elective cesarean section. He and his wife were, as you might expect, filled with joy, excitement, and anticipation at the thought of finally meeting their baby.
Sadly Glenns wife, Amanda never got to meet their daughter. Amanda suffered complications during the cesarean, and because of what is suspected to have been an embolism, she died as she gave birth to her daughter.
So this picture of Glenn truly encapsulates the greatest sorrow and the greatest joy in one heart-wrenching moment.
1 Finish As We Started
And so we come to the end of our list that could easily have gone on for another fifty photographs. I can never get enough of looking at images of parents as they meet their children for the first time. It is intrinsically intimate and joyful.
To finish this list, it seems fitting that we return to where we started, with one of the members of the armed forces who had been apart from his family during this incredibly important period.
We have probably already said all there is to say on this list and should wrap up with just one word, and that is love.
Each of these fathers has a very different past, a very different present and a very different future but what they all share is the obvious love they have for their children in these photographs.
Sources: HuffingtonPost.com, HuffingtonPost.co.uk, Parents.com