Parents have about nine months to prepare to have a baby, but it seems like you aren't exactly ready for it until you are holding your screaming newborn in your arms for the first time. It's a mess of emotions that can't exactly be explained, but these 11 dads do their best to share that beautiful moment they saw their newborn baby for the very first time:
1. Our perfect child
"I was so overwhelmed with emotion. So I just laughed and cried with my wife as we gazed at our perfect child."
2. Welcome to fatherhood
"I was awestruck."
3. It can take time
"Nothing. It took a while to 'discover' this little explorer I had been put in charge of."
4. Being truly happy
"I was filled with so much hope for his future. I was proud and truly happy."
"A relief. My wife had a long and difficult labor, but at the end everyone was healthy and happy. All the anxiety and stress was finally gone. It was blissful."
6. Now I get it
"I felt like I finally knew what unconditional love was. I was not ready to have another 'heart' grow in my chest, one that is all love and only love for my newborn. I cried for about 30 minutes without being able to stop it... nurses even made fun of me a little. I love my daughter more than anything."
7. Now what?
"I remember being left alone with her, and thinking 'The nurses are leaving ME alone with her? But I have no idea what to do!'"
"When we were driving home with the first one we were stopped at a stop light. Both of us looked back into the back seat and then looked at each other. 'What have we done?' I whispered to my wife.
"'I don't know' she whispered back, and we drove home very carefully going ten under the speed limit."
9. Papa bear
"It was like a switch went off inside me, and I instantly went into 'protector mode' in lack of a better word. I felt very connected to them, and felt my role was to shield them from others."
10. Exhilaring and terrifying - sounds about right
"It's hard to describe. Like the whole 9 months my wife was pregnant, I knew I was going to be a dad, but it was still sort of theoretical. The baby wasn't a real thing I could see and hear and touch. It was just the idea of a baby. And then I was handed this tiny, living human being. 100% real and who I'm responsible for. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time."
"I cried when hospital personnel first congratulated me and called me 'dad'."
Editor's note: comments have been edited for grammer and clarity.