Here is a fact many of you may not know. Dads get screwed in the whole birthing process. I don’t mean cheated out of something, no. I mean we are treated terribly.
Not as a rule, of course. But its more often than not. And before you get all up in arms about how “we don’t go through what the woman goes through”, I need to tell you something. You are absolutely right. We don’t go through what Mum goes through. But what we do go through can be terrible. And unlike Mom, it’s completely unnecessary.
From the moment we arrive with Mum to begin the process of bringing our child into the world, we are an anathema. We are ignored, shunted to the side, belittled, berated, and knowingly cut out of one of (if not the) most important events in our lives. And the justification used by nurses, doctors, and family members is “It’s not about you. It’s about her. And you don’t know what this poor woman is going through. AND YOU NEVER WILL!”
You’re right. We will never know what labour pains are like. We will never feel a contraction, or a baby kick us in the ribs from the inside or the feeling of a C-section incision. We Dads will never know any of these things.
But we do know other things. Like the fear of the unknown. The pain of watching our partners whom we have dedicated our lives to hurt for hours and hours on end. The absolute soul-shattering fear of the baby being hurt. The hours and hours of frustration. We know the fear of having to go through all of that alone, with no staff to assist us, being relegated to the corner, told to stay out of the way, and being completely helpless to do anything to help our family. And we know the terror of enduring minutes that pass like eons, not knowing if our partner and child are even going to survive.
We know the fear of losing our best friend. And we know the fear of losing our best friend we have yet to meet. We know what it is to look into a possible future of being alone. We know what it is to face the fact we may be losing a child we have never even had a chance to hold or trying to raise that child without their Mother.
So while we don’t know what a contraction feels like, don’t any of you tell any Dad out there that we don’t understand or can’t imagine the pain. Trust me, we can imagine it. And more. And we do. Constantly. Don’t patronize us and make jokes like “Your job was done 9 months ago.”, “Just pace and hand out the cigars, Dad.”, or (my absolute favourite) “You ordered it, but SHE has to deliver it.” Saying crap like that just goes to show that you refuse to see what this person is going through. And apparently, YOU NEVER WILL.
Or will you? You can, it’s not hard.
Health care providers: the next time you are walking down the hall of the Maternity wing and you see the soon to be Dad staring blankly at the coffee pot because he’s asleep on his feet with bags under his eyes, pat him on the shoulder. Reassure him. Tell him it’s going to be ok. He may not look like it, but he needs that encouragement.
Family: Mum is the priority, absolutely. But don’t forget Dad. Don’t leave him out on an island to fend for himself. Talk to him. Ask him if he needs anything. Be there for him, too.
We Dads don’t get the contractions. We don’t get the episiotomy. We don’t get the C-section.
We also don’t get the help some of us may desperately need. So please remember…