The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #32: The Reluctant Father & His Wife

When photographer Phillip Toledano’s daughter Loulou was born, he expected to feel a tsunami of love for her. Instead, he saw her as an alien whose cries could not be appeased.

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Phillip thought his wife would join him in the this-baby-is-ruining-my-life camp. But she had landed firmly in the this-baby-is-the-best-thing-that’s-ever-happened-to-me camp.

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Phillip tried to get Carla to complain along with him. When she refused, he did what any self-respecting photographer would do: he started taking ugly pictures of his baby.

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When the pictures didn’t convince Carla that babies were bad news, Phillip printed one of his photos on a tote bag, a cushion, and a dinner plate.

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If friends asked how new fatherhood was going, he’d pull out the plate as evidence of how miserable his life had become. Which made Carla mad—and even more adamant that new motherhood was nothing but bliss.

For awhile there, it seemed like Carla and Phillip might be stuck in opposing camps for the rest of Loulou’s life. And just like any drawn-out marital fight, they were both being too extreme to be right.

In this episode, find out how, through a combination of the picture below and one memorably messy night, they both managed to come to the center and see both the good and the bad in parenthood.

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Phillip might’ve actually gone a little too far in the positive direction. His pictures of his Loulou eventually all looked a little Hallmarky—and make him cringe so much that he barely photographs her anymore.

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See more of Phillip’s work
Phillip documented his story of transforming from “photographer to father” in his book The Reluctant Father; Carla wrote the afterword. You can also find an online version of the book in full at Phillip’s website, which houses lots of other visually thrilling projects.

Member of the opposing camp sleeping in YOUR bed?
Are you in a relationship where one partner was more reluctant than the other post-baby? What broke the frost? Tell us in the comments!

Photos: Phillip Toledano