From an early age, family was something that was always important to me. I am one of eight children and come from a large extended family on both sides. My greatest childhood memories are summer holidays in Donegal, Ireland, or going on trips on the ferry across to Scotland or Blackpool with my favourite aunts and uncles. As I grew older, I went from being a son and brother to an uncle. I have 13 nephews and nieces and have always loved the responsibility of being fun uncle David. I had (and have) so much love for them and I always wondered how their parents must feel about them?
I moved out of my parent’s home at sixteen to live with my older sister because I craved independence. I left for university in Belfast a few years later to study mathematics. After I graduated, I moved to Kent in England and worked as a maths teacher. That was over ten years ago, and although I’ve always enjoyed going home at least a few times each year, I’ve never really looked back. After four years living in the ‘Garden of England’, I was offered the opportunity to teach in the Middle-East. I had nothing really holding me back, so I went for it without too much hesitation. It was a great career and life choice for me and after my first year, I went back to Ireland, with my golfers tan, and met my future wife at an old-school mate’s gig – he happened to be her brother! I moved slowly and kept in touch online and only took her out for our first date that Christmas when I was home again. Not many people believe this, but it was my Movember moustache that earned me that first date! Our first date was a few days before Christmas and she moved to the Middle-East with me the following September. When I was single, for quite a long time, the common consolation was ‘when you meet the real one, you’ll know’! I was never really sure I believed that, until I met my wife. We loved our life, had great friends, went out to nice restaurants and bars, danced, played golf and generally had a good time. However, after two years of living the good life, we decided that we wanted another adventure and a new start in a new city. We applied for new jobs, packed up and moved to Singapore in the summer of 2016.
From Carefree Bachelor to Family Man
It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was teaching some IB students as I did at the same time every Wednesday. This particular Wednesday, however, was just two days away from my week’s paternity leave which ran into the October break, allowing me to fly back to Ireland to meet my very heavily pregnant wife. She was expecting our first-born and we had decided that it was important for her to be around the support of our close family and friends back home. So, after our annual summer trip, she stayed in Ireland and I returned to work in Singapore. This meant, of course, that we were apart for around two months leading up to the birth. It was difficult being apart from her for this time, but we made peace with it knowing that it was likely the best thing for her and our future child. Since I missed out on the last few months, I couldn’t wait to be back to support her through one of the most special moments of our lives.
It was shortly after noon when I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket. I knew straight away. I had a nervous excited feeling and when I heard my wife’s voice on the other end of the phone, I knew what it must be. It was the early hours in Ireland, and my wife’s water had broken. My flight wasn’t due to leave for two days and as I tried to find out how my giggly wife was, I had a feeling, at that point, that I wouldn’t be home to see my first child’s birth. I was delighted that my wife felt ok and that she was in good spirits. I was relieved that she was calm and was happy to have her mum by her side, but deep down I wanted to be teleported home to be by her side at that moment. After hours of trying to get on the next flight home, the quickest route I found was via Dubai at 10 pm that evening. I would have to wait another 15 hours to meet my newborn baby. I knew the only chance of me seeing the birth was if my wife had an extremely long labour, so I prayed (and got my much more devout mother to pray) that the baby arrived quickly and safely, and I tried to make my peace with the fact that I’d miss it.
I was about to board the plane in Singapore when I got a call from my mother-in-law who passed the phone to my very drowsy and tired wife. She was able to tell me, after a few attempts, that she had given birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby! We were trying to keep the baby’s sex a secret until I got home, but in my wife’s state, I heard her murmur…she’s just beautiful. I pretended not to hear her, but I knew from that moment on that I was going to be smitten forevermore with a beautiful baby daughter!
On the flight home, a very friendly air steward must have noticed I looked nervous so he made polite conversation. To say I was emotional is a massive understatement. I told him about the situation and might have shown him a few photos. He arrived back, five minutes later with a cuddly toy for my ‘new beautiful baby girl’. I think I just started crying in his face! It was the slowest and longest journey I’ve ever had. Thankfully my Dad was there to pick me up in Dublin and we raced to our hometown in Derry to meet my new daughter at the hospital.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw them both. My wife looked so happy. My daughter was in the cubicle by the bedside and the nurse was about to take her away to get weighed. She was so beautiful and petite. My wife convinced the nurse to come back in five minutes since ‘her Daddy had travelled for a day for a cuddle’. She was just beautiful, and I couldn’t believe she was ours. I'll never forget those first few moments together as a family of three. I was so proud of my wife and so relieved and happy to be reunited with her, knowing that our lives would never be quite the same again.
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