I thought I knew how being a father would be. I have a father, a good one. I understood that much. I have nephews and nieces, and I love them to bits. I understood that much. So when we become pregnant, I thought I had a pretty strong grip on how being a parent felt.

I knew I wasn’t nearly ready as I wanted to be, but I didn’t think I had a big gap of understanding on how a father felt about their child. I had experienced a large swath of the human emotion spectrum, and I’ve gathered a lifetime of experiences leading to that point. So, I thought I knew how being a father would feel.

And then, I became a father. Just like the flipping of a switch, everything was turned to 11.

My ears wanted to hear every single sound my son made, my eyes didn’t want to rest so that I may not miss a single movement of his tiny limbs. I was fiercely protective of him from the every so slight change in the environment surrounding him. It was like a primal instinct had awakened in me. I could feel my rage burn wild, even at the slightest perceived discomfort the hospital staff caused him. The days were like a blur, and I was physically tired from the things that were happening—such as cleaning the home vigorously in preparation of his arrival. But I felt the most awake at the same time.

There was suddenly a big, wide world full of things that really didn’t understand how fragile a baby is. There was a world full of billions and billions of people who didn’t feel exactly the same caring love as his mother and I were carrying. Just like the flipping of a switch, everything was turned to 11. I went into what I imagine was a primal urge to protect your own.

It’s been a few months since then. I’ve calmed down quite a bit—less of that primal rage. But that wakefulness never went away. I’ve come to accept that the part of me that awakened is here to stay. I also feel the calmest when my son is firmly in my arms and he cuddles to find a comfortable position. I guess that’s part of being a father. I’m guessing, continuously learning to be a father is also part of being a father too. But, I’ve become a father nonetheless.