Not having the support of his own father for 10 years as a child, Lush Digital Project Producer Matt Bradbrook endeavored to be the best father and husband he could. He tells the story of the birth of his son Marcel in 2018 and how it brought him and his partner closer than he could have ever imagined.
I have six nieces, four nephews, and a godson. My friends all have children. I’ve always been surrounded by lots of children and knew I would like to become a dad one day, it just so happened that throughout my 20s the circumstances and timing were never right. As I approached my 30s, I came to accept that maybe I wouldn’t have a child and began to make peace with that…
Then I met my partner, Aga, and it all just started to fall into place.
We married, conceived, bought our first family home and welcomed our beautiful little boy, Marcel, into the world all within the space of a year. It has been the best year of my life.
Welcoming Marcel into the world
Being present during the birth of my son was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. As a male partner, you feel extremely powerless at that moment; you just have to be there and do what you can to support. Aga was in absolute agony and I nearly lost a thumb and finger during Marcel’s birth. It was emotional and difficult but, after four days of contractions and 11 hours of labour, we were ready to welcome our little one into our arms.
On the 25th September 2018, at 17.04pm in Poole Hospital (10 days early, might I add) Marcel James Bradbrook came into the world weighing in at 4 kilos and 53cm long.
The early days
When Marcel was born I received four weeks’ paternity leave fully paid from Lush. This was so important for us, as that first month was mostly about adjusting and creating our own routine. When Marcel was a newborn, we worked as a team and shared our sleeping patterns. We would sleep when he slept and it really connected us as a family.
Naturally, Aga was hesitant when I had to return to work but it was so important that I did, not only for my family but for myself. We have some flexibility here at Lush to be able to work from home when needed, which allows me to support Aga but the structure and routine of my job means that we all have breathing space to grow and develop independently from one another.
Marcel and Aga have an unbreakable bond that meant at first it can be difficult for mothers in the newborn stage to spend time away from the baby. I’m here to support her and slowly but surely, when she is ready, Aga will make those steps back into her own job (she also works for Lush). We’re there to support one another in everything we do, as well as support Marcel.
Our incredible extended family
Amazingly, Marcel will grow up in a bi-lingual house as my partner Aga is Polish, and they have both just returned from two months visiting Aga’s family in Poland. I found this extremely difficult as I missed them but it will all be integral to Marcel’s development to be immersed in lots of different cultures. In the future, his babcia (grandmother) will join us here in the UK and live in our family home, which will be wonderful as he grows older with a mix of generations surrounding him. My mum has 12 grandchildren now yet she still treats Marcel as if he is her first. We have a big family, and it’s lovely.
Making time for mum and yourself
The irony of preaching self care to new parents whilst I make our dinner at five am makes me chuckle but it really is important. Try to get into a routine for yourself - it’s so important to take time out to do things you enjoy as a new father, but don’t forget mum might need it more than you.
I’ve learned that doing things for the baby is so embedded in a mum’s instincts and she can forget her own needs at times. You can help by doing little things like making sure you take a walk together on a Sunday, pouring a nice bath for her or maybe treating yourselves to a nice meal. Either way, as a parent, you need to remember that there’s a balance and you need to give yourself the things you need as a person in order to make you the best you can be for your kids.
Having Marcel has brought Aga and I closer than I ever imagined. Even if fatherhood has been a surprise for me, there isn’t a moment I haven’t loved… Everything I do now is for them.
Words by Matt Bradbrook, with help from Nuala Davies