We found out that my wife was pregnant towards the end of June on the day we were due to go on a cycling holiday from Oxford to Cornwall. We were all packed and ready to go when my wife came out of the bathroom with a pregnancy test in her hand. It took us a minute to agree that the result was positive. And so we began one of the biggest adventures in our lives! Yes, I do mean the cycling trip. Whilst there was a little bit of panicking, mainly from me (completely from me), over whether or not we should go to the doctor or just go on our holiday, neither of us really knew what you are supposed to do the moment you find out, so we concluded that we would go on our cycling trip and go to the doctor when we returned.
The cycle trip was hard but ultimately rewarding, and would become, I realise now, a potential metaphor for the much bigger life adventure we were facing. It was filled with ups and downs, quite literally, as we crossed Somerset and Exmoor. We battled up spirit crushing hills, which you do of course roll down too, but sometimes they were just so steep that even what should have been good fun was in fact a bit scary. We had so many high moments like standing on deserted Cornish beaches in glorious sunshine that could easily have been somewhere in the Mediterranean, and low moments like standing in a shelter in an uninspiring town centre with incessant rain threatening to put a stop to the whole thing.
I completely expect, from everything I’ve come to understand about it, that parenthood will have its tough moments but what it really comes down to in the end is the reward. I expect that like the hills in Exmoor there will be parts of being a dad that will be tougher than I anticipated (they didn’t look so bad on the map!), but when I get to stand on the beach at the end those hills won’t matter. What that really entails I don’t yet know, but on this journey I expect to be as good a dad as I was a cycler: Far from professional level, but keen and strong on the days that I get enough sleep.