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What About the Dads?

When my wife was pregnant with my first child, I already felt like I was at a disadvantage. My wife had a 5-year-old when we met, so she was already a seasoned parent having experienced pregnancy and childbirth before. She knew what to expect — didn’t need to read the first-time parent books, was familiar with how her body would change, and everything seemed very routine. But I found myself questioning everything.

Moms are often the focal subject during pregnancy—and for good reason, of course. When we’d go to prenatal visits I sat quietly, just taking in as much information as possible. The appointment never really felt like it was for me. Even during labor, I often feel sort of in the way; shuffling around the midwives and letting my wife labor independently—her preference. I was just there, waiting.

When we had a miscarriage (our second) a few years ago, I cried when she called me from Home Goods. She had just been running errands when she started to bleed in the middle of the aisle. We had wanted that baby so badly, and back-to-back miscarriages broke our hearts. We were only 10 weeks along, but that baby was so loved already. No one ever asked how I was holding up. It didn’t really bother me then — but I had to swallow my sadness.

After the babies are born, everyone wants to know how the new addition is doing, how the siblings are managing, how mom is sleeping, how she’s feeling, and so on. But no one ever asks about dad.

I never minded, and frankly, I never even thought about it. I wasn’t the one carrying the baby weight, feeling the painful kicks and body rolls. I wasn’t the one with heartburn and aching ligaments and swollen feet. I wasn’t the one in the ICU at 31 weeks praying for a full-term baby while healing from major surgery. When each baby arrived, I wasn’t the one struggling with cracked nipples, a lack of sleep, or healing after delivery.

But — I did struggle internally. After our fourth baby arrived, a friend was asking me about my wife and the baby, and I showed her some pictures. She then looked at me and asked, “And how are YOU doing?” I was taken aback. I wasn’t even sure how to answer that question because no one had ever asked me that.

I realized that dads’ struggles matter too. And it’s time to start sharing that with the parenting community.

So, from now on when you see a dad who recently had a baby…ask him, “And what about dad? How are you doing?”



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