For the first few days of fatherhood, Thorns FC athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier was an anxious wreck.
Reality struck when he first picked up his newborn son, Marcel Jean, for the first time. While he spent weeks visualizing the moment, nothing could have possibly prepared him for the thoughts that invaded his head as soon as the nurse thrusted the hours-old baby into his arms.
“I was just like ‘are you sure I can touch him?’,” Soubrier said. “I was really hesitant at first and then she was like ‘yeah, boom, here he is.’ I remember asking myself what do I do now, he was half my forearm.”
Even the most mundane tasks, such as walking or working around the house, brought up thoughts he had never experienced before.
“You never trip on a regular basis, but I had these thoughts of tripping all the time,” Soubrier said. “When somebody holds him, like my mom, I look over my shoulder to make sure nobody can trip on anything.”
It has been an eye-opening couple of weeks for Soubrier and wife Crystal Dunn, who became first-time parents on May 20, the day Marcel was born.
With Father’s Day on June 19, Soubrier reflected on his first few weeks as a father and shared what he has learned from the experience so far as well as what excites him most about his future as a dad.
Soubrier and Dunn arrived at the hospital at 7 a.m., May 19 and didn’t check out until May 22. For the better chunk of four days Soubrier couldn’t sleep, kept awake trying to figure out what the next few days – and weeks – looked like and questioning all he had ever known.
“Those next couple of days you just question everything you’re doing, but you figure it out” Soubrier said. “People say it comes naturally and it kind of does.”
In the weeks prior, he worried about how their cats might react to the scent of a new body in the house. To prepare for leaving the hospital, he went through the procedure of buckling the baby carrier and process of coming home multiple times before he and Dunn did it for real, just to be familiar with the different devices.
What Soubrier was most anxious about was the lack of sleep he would experience as well as dealing with a baby’s schedule. He and Dunn have had to make several adjustments when it comes down to their days and how they play their time, but he says it hasn’t been as chaotic as he was initially told to believe, at least not yet.
Now back at work, Soubrier says his days look similar, albeit a little longer. He still works his relatively normal hours, leaving the office around 5 p.m., and has even been able to fit his Orange Theory fitness classes in. Then, once he arrives home, he cooks dinner and takes the evening shift so Dunn can go to bed early and take care of Marcel midway through the night and wake up with him in the morning.
With both Soubrier and Dunn’s parents in town over the past few weeks, the two have had help as they continue to figure out a daily routine. The hardest task, though, is one Soubrier and Dunn have yet to completely figure out: bedtime, which currently falls anywhere between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
“Sometimes I try to put him to bed and he doesn’t go to sleep,” Soubrier said. “So you just have to wait and go through your checklist of things you need to do for his environment to be ready for him to go to bed. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Soubrier compares parenting to taking care of a Tamagotchi, at least in some ways. For example, there are elements of excitement when carrying out different tasks, and for Soubrier that means bringing some of his work skills home.
Not even a month old yet, Soubrier puts Marcel on his stomach, challenging him to pick up his head, which strengthens the extensor muscle.
“I have so much fun doing that because I’m teaching him to push with his legs against my hands and he’s worming around on his stomach,” Soubrier said. “I feel like that kind of bond and that emotional connection is a slowly growing aspect of being a dad.”
Dunn and Soubrier have even already taken Marcel to his first Thorns game, which Portland won 3-0 against Angel City FC on June 3. Because of a 30-day cautionary rule, in place to keep Marcel away from too many people while his immune system is relatively weak, the family stayed isolated in a quiet suite.
“[Marcel] slept most of the game, so it was easy,” Soubrier said. “We came in just before kickoff, so we skipped the pregame chaos, and left before the final whistle. It was quick and easy to sneak in and out to watch the game.”
While just a couple of weeks in, Soubrier mentions how lucky he and Dunn have been with Marcel, who has been mellow so far. Thankful for a couple of weeks off to adjust to life as a new family of three, Soubrier knows it won’t all be smooth sailing and that he still has many things to learn. However, beginning June 19, Father’s Day will take on a greater meaning and the Frenchman is excited for what the future holds.
“So far it has been super fun and not super crazy,” Soubrier said. “Hopefully it stays like that.”