At 5pm Monday 10 March 2014, I was getting ready to attend an antenatal class before going out for one final “posh” meal with my wife as a couple.
Our unborn child wasn’t due for another two weeks so we had plenty of time, particularly as first children very rarely come early – as a really good friend of ours can attest after her patience was stretched to the maximum, waiting for hers to arrive!
In theory, we therefore had plenty of time then to visit Rio Ferdinand’s restaurant in town, see the singer who sang at our wedding performing and generally have a memorable evening together.
And then, just after I got back from school, my wife tentatively announced; “I think my waters have broken…” and everything changed.
Just as well I’d come home from work actually. Initially I was going to meet her at the antenatal class and she was going to get the bus…that could have been awkward!
Now, a year on, there’s been an innumerable amount of highs. A fair few lows and tricky patches. But always and without fail, God’s grace has been with our little family and we’re so grateful to him.
Sophie had a tricky start to her life. Nobody wants to spend their first week in hospital, nor be put through what Sophie experienced. It was not at all how we’d imagined starting parenthood.
But, even in that really horrible stage, we can totally see how the situation was used by God to help us.
We were so naive and new to parenting (still are in many ways!). At her baby shower, my wife had been tasked with dressing a doll while it was wriggled and squirmed by a good friend of hers but other than that we’d never had to clothe a child.
Bath-time? How do you simultaneously hold her head, clean her, wash her hair and entertain her with ducks?!
As for nappies, the less said about those the better.
And yet, having the midwives available to help us get started with those things was so valuable for sorting out our rookie errors.
Indeed, before Sophie arrived, I’d been terrified of holding little children and deliberately gone out of my way to avoid having to do it. Suddenly, I was zooming her across the room to wake her for her feeds and (almost) passing her like a rugby ball for my dad to hold. An amazing transformation!
With the benefit of hindsight, we learned an awful lot about Sophie and ourselves as parents in those opening few days which we have carried through her first year of life.
Looking back at dates and times now is surreal and occasionally a bit emotional, but we’re so grateful to God for everything. Sophie is a happy, content and wonderful child (OK, I’m biased!). She makes me laugh all the time and the way she acquires new skills is just amazing to watch.
One year with her has been the most exciting, helter-skelter and magical twelve months of my life. And I’m sure she’s only just getting started!