I should be napping, and am, in fact feeling guilty about not doing so, but this post has been forming in my head and I just need to get it out.
We talk a lot, we people of society, about the difficulties of the post-partum period for women and we’re certainly right. The hormonal shifts make you alternately blissful and terrified, the physical recovery is painful and prevents you from being self-sufficient, and the overwhelming forever-ness of the little being you are responsible for can be, well, overwhelming.
Blurry pic because of the low light and my ineptness, but it’s the only one I have of the night I caught them watching a movie together. “A Guy Movie,” I was informed.
But we don’t talk about the dads, how they go from regular life to single-handedly keeping a family together in the blink of an eye. One day, his wife is pregnant. Grumpy, sure, but mostly still herself. The next, she’s in labor and he’s her primary source of support. He, who hasn’t been through this whole birthing-the-kid thing, either, is expected to keep it together AND be helpful. Before he knows it, they’re all home – a home still requiring of maintenance to stay livable – and depending on the moment, in various states of falling apart. If the baby’s crying, so is his wife; if the wife is crying, well, things aren’t good, eh?
My husband has been our rock since my son was born 11 days ago. He woke with us for every single feeding at the hospital, changing the baby’s diaper so I wouldn’t have to climb out of bed. This man, who had never been around children and thought they were a little scary, changed diapers faster than I could and became our resident soother, capable of settling my son down in a few moments (after I’d tried for much, much longer). He retains that title still.
Baby out of focus but the best picture I have of my husband about an hour after our son was born, just after ditching the surgical scrubs he wore when he joined me in the OR suite.
Any semblance of order that exists in this house is through his efforts; even those things I’ve done have been at his behest. Without him, I wouldn’t still be breastfeeding for lack of confidence (and a ride to the lactation consultant appointments). Without complaining, he’s stepped in and done anything – everything – to make sure I’m able to take the time to pump and talk my son into latching. Hell, most of the time, he’s right there too, cheering us on.
Learning how to give a bath, as he is also our resident Bath Giver, and fantastic at it. In fact, I have yet to give my kid a bath and am somewhat nervous, but he’s done it – by himself – multiple times. He acts like it’s no big deal.
And he does this while feeding the dogs, cleaning up behind us, and doing loads and loads and loads and LOADS of laundry – plus taking the time for an occasional pep talk for the mama – all without complaint. When I lost my temper and collapsed into a sobbing mess one morning, he took the baby from me and sent me to bed to nap, then followed to make sure I hadn’t brought my laptop or iPod with me. When I fell apart because breastfeeding wasn’t working, he was sitting right next to me (of course) with his arm around me. He gives out hugs and says nice things and has been the kind of guy you can rely on, all while seamlessly adjusting to being The Dad.
Every morning, I hand the baby off to him and sleep for a few hours knowing he has everything under control. Every day, I rely on him to get through, get past, get going. Every week, I’m more amazed by how solidly he supports us all, and not just behind the scenes, but in the thick of it all. My son is a very lucky kid. I am a very lucky wife.
Over and over (and over), he’s kept us all going. We don’t talk about the dads enough, they who take on everything so that we can do what we need to do. We should.
This post, while sappy, can’t be attributed to a blissful hormonal fog because I’ve been thinking about it even while in a miserable heap of emotions… and in a fit of anger… and in a hole of sadness… and in a haze of tiredness.
My son is 11 days old.