While watching some shows on huluplus, I noticed this commercial being used every commercial break. Since my focus is often on carseats, the first timeI noticed I thought, “oh, good, some ok carseat use in a commercial” (not fabulous in the snug harness department- but pretty good). The next time I saw it I saw that this commercial does a horrible thing to fathers. The job of the dad does not begin in the car. Unless, of course, that is where he conceived the baby! wink wink.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this father get neglected and pushed into the background during his baby’s birth and first days in the hospital- here you go.
So Dads, this is for you.
Dad, your fatherhood does not start with buckling your baby into the car. Not only should you be there with your wife every step of the way through her pregnancy and birth- it’s your JOB and your right to be there.
So here is my tips for Dads, who I know often get pushed into the background during birth and are an afterthought to the hospital staff during your baby’s arrival.
1- Talk to your spouse/ baby mama
Let her know that you want to be involved in the birth process. Yes, birth is very mom and baby focused. After all, it is very physically demanding on both of them, but you exist in this process too and deserve to be recognized. You may not even be sure what that means yet for you to be involved in the birth but that is ok and exactly why you need to speak to the pregnant mama of your baby and figure out how you two want to bring this baby into the world and how you can be part of this journey with her.
2- Go to some prenatal appointments
I get you may not be able to be there every 4 weeks but try to make a range. An early on appointment in the first trimester to hear that heartbeat and initially meet the OB/MW. If you have questions, ask them. Don’t sit back in the corner and try to make yourself invisible. Be there and present and an active part of the discussion with mom and doctor. Also, try to make a 2nd tri appointment and a end of pregnancy appointment. You’d be surprised how different each appointment is and how different stages of pregnancy can really bring up different topics in the doctors office. Also, putting yourself out there and being involved in this way shows the staff that you are that dad who wants to be involved and active with your wife and her birth.
3- Be in the birth plan
Make sure you and your role in the birth are a topic in your baby mama’s birth plan! It should state that YOU are her support person and who she wants with her and near her while going through whatever her birth may bring.
4- Consider getting a doula
I know men often get skeptical about the role of the doula and fear that she will be replacing him but that simply is not what she does. She will help make sure that you do not get shoved into the background. If your wife is going through a rough moment in her birth and you freeze up or are not sure what to do, she will suggest some ways that you can be there and help her through. Also, her presence will allow you to use the bathroom from time to time without leaving laboring mom alone.
5- Speak up!
Unless the baby has some immediate NICU needs, do not let the hospital staff bully you into feeling like your baby is not your baby. You do not need to prove anything to them. You do not need to wait until an official release. Your baby is yours, not the nursery staff’s baby. And trust me, they sometimes like to make parents feel like they have no rights over their own baby, but you do! Tell them, you want your baby. Tell them, you insist on staying with your baby at all times or that you will be holding and helping mom with baby during the night. You are that baby’sfather and fatherhood does not wait until you leave the hospital. You are the father IN the hospital too and if you aren’t being recognized as your baby’s dad, you need to speak up.
6. Believe in yourself
TV shows and general cultural perspective may have you believing that you are the second class parent or not as intelligent or don’t have the parental instincts you need to raise a kid. Those are lies. I know you probably weren’t given as many baby dolls to practice on as a child as your female counterpart but trust yourself. You can hold your baby and rock your baby and play with your baby and soothe your baby when they cry. Believe in yourself that you are a great father and practice great fatherhood through the entire pregnancy by being a caring and involved husband (or boyfriend/partner) to your baby mama. 🙂
You are dad!
Thank you to all the amazing Dads who allowed me to use their photos.
People love asking moms about their baby making plans.
“Are you done?”, “Are you planning on more?”, and my favorite phrasing – with all the negative overtones-, “You’re done, right?!”.
And in case it isn’t awkward enough when friends and family asks these questions- us moms also hear this from strangers, like our cashiers.
I cannot help but wonder why people feel like they should ask someone about their birth control plans? That is what it is, after all. They may as well ask if we are planning to have some unprotected sex again. And the truth of the matter is, whether I am or not, it feels too personal and like something that is no ones business but the people who’d be making (or preventing) the baby.
And the thing is, there is no right answer. I mean, one person may want to hear you say “YES! I’m so done!” and they will sigh in relief, laugh and make a comment on how full your arms are already but that same answer to someone else will make them look at you in surprise and question why you want to make a permanent decision right now and they will talk about all the wonders another child could add to your life. While if you tell someone you are not sure or maybe you are planning one more (as I found out when I had 2 girls and people would ask if I was planning a third) you can get comments like, “Oh, you got to try for that boy, huh?”. As if my whole plan in life is to be a baby making factory until a preferred gender one arrives. Would I love a boy? SURE! But would I make the decision about how many kids I want to have and how my family will look and feel and function for the rest of my life over the 50% chance of a certain gender? uh, no. If I have another child that will be based off a bit more than hoping for a gender.
In the end, though, it just isn’t anyones business. Unless, of course, you are the person I’d be making that baby with- then it’s completely your business. That’s the only exception.
So moms (or those of you who are not parents yet who have people questioning your child baring plans), don’t feel pressured to respond. If someone asks you your plans for your sex life, it’s ok to just not answer them. If that person is willing to put you in the awkward position of having to answer such a super personal question, it’s ok to just smile or even wink and not respond and let the awkward silence roll into another conversation. Or come up with a witty come back (which I’d be thrilled to give examples of here if I were at all witty and could think of things like that).
Cesarian Section. C-section. CS. Surgical birth.
There is so much weight, emotion, assumptions, expectations that comes with even the mention of a C-section. Every kind of response from “Yay! you had/are having your baby” (with no thought or reaction or emotion about a C-S) to devastation, hurt, trauma, happiness, relief, and joy.
Cesarean sections are so loaded. Yes, we are having a baby. The baby is the point of all of this after all. This baby we conceived, dreamed of, felt grow, felt kick and hiccup, awaited the due date of, imagined how they may look, how they will act, how they will feel to hug and kiss, what their hobbies may be, what college they’ll go to. We have thought about it all for them. This entire birth process is for them. So we so often get that numb, heartless response and thought, even in our own minds, “as long as the baby is healthy”. Whatever you birth is like, it does not matter, as long as that baby is healthy. Whether they induce you, use forceps on you, or even cut you open and remove your baby from your numb gut, you have a healthy baby now. What society so often forgets is that even if the point is to get this beautiful baby into our arms, it’s our experience too. It’s our bodies that are contracting, pushing, cut at, pulled at, sewn back together. It is our experience that we remember for the rest of our lives. So what is it like? When our births end in c-section?
When I asked other moms what their experiences were, I get a range of answers.
Interesting life experience
These are just some of the words used. Some of the feelings that women still feel when thinking back to their c-section experience. What this shows to me is that women are strong. We are amazing, even. We are willing to sacrifice anything for our babies. I regret my C-section. I do not regret doing what I thought was necessary, at the time, for my baby girl. I’d even do it again if I thought it was necessary again. For her. We are filled with an incredible self-sacrificing love when it comes to our babies. We are willing to be sliced, diced, terrified and scarred for life for these little people who grew within us.
You will hear women express regret, sadness, hurt, anger, fear, numbness, confusion and more when it comes to her cesarean experience. Even planned cesareans, which do not tend to have the same range of emotions evolved around them, come loaded with fear and complications. None of us regret our babies.
So, don’t tell a cesarean mom, ” All that matters is a healthy baby”. Nobody knows how much that baby matters more than the mom who has a cesarean for that baby. We matter too. The mom matters. Her birth experience matters, her body and her pain and her feelings matter.
Moms who have had unexpected cesareans need time to heal. Part of healing is being loved. Feeling sympathized with. Being comforted. Yes, being reminded of the little blessing in our arms, nursing at our breasts, but also being reminded that we are strong and we are incredible and we made a huge sacrifice and that we should be proud of the mothers we are. Not that “at least our babies are alive”. We don’t need to be reminded to be thankful for healthy babies. We understand the value in that. What we need, is for others to understand the value of us and our experience and our bodies when we go through trauma. Love on mama’s. Love on the mama’s who have had unexpected, traumatic births. Help them heal. Help them recognize their own awesome mom-ness.