When I first came to this work, it was all about the women. I’d like to say I gave the men equal measure, but in the beginning I know I didn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t think they were important, on the contrary I have always believed that the couple (when there is one) deserves to be encouraged and supported together. However, I also had in my mind that everything ultimately came down to the woman, the most important piece of the pie, the star of the show, etc. My original website and business materials reflected this inner thought as well, because they mostly talked about the woman, the mother, and rarely, if ever, mentioned anyone else.
With time and experience, I’ve come to see just how deeply fathers are impacted by birth and how important it is to honor his unique role. I’ve watched the biggest, burliest, most stoic men dissolve into a puddle of tears watching their babies being born and I have to tell you…there are few things that compare to witnessing this, one of which being the look on the woman’s face after she just gave birth!
Fathers get a tough road during the labor/birth process. They are often expected to be both the main support person, coach, and protector. It is a LOT to ask of any one person, let alone a person who is going through a major life change right beside the birth giver. At almost every single birth where a male partner is present, I see a moment where he is unsure what’s happening and if his beloved is okay. We prepare for this in our prenatal visits and classes, but it’s always lost at the actual event. In that instant, he is often working so hard to be strong for her, love her, support her, but he is worried. Is this normal? Does she need me to do something more? Is she going to make it through this? She’s hurting and I can’t take away her pain! Sometimes it is as quick as a flicker in his eyes as he looks over to me, and I smile, mouth “she is okay, you’re doing great”. Sometimes, it lasts longer, and there is a touch on the shoulder to signal that all is well, or he steps out to take a quick break.
Then there’s the moment the baby is born. It gets me in the feels EVERY. TIME. The emotion, the tears, the kisses to the forehead, the childish laughs, the shaking hands. I try to fade in the background so they see only their family in those moments. The whole room can feel those deep, raw emotions from the family. It’s intense and beautiful.
So today, on your special day, I want to apologize for taking so long to realize just how important and awesome you are. I see you now, as do all of us at Summer Birth Services, for who you are and what your role is. I honor the work you do to love your partner, support her while she gives birth and then mothers your baby, and be the best father you can be. I love watching you find your parenting wings and take flight!
Happy Father’s Day!