fFandJolai-236x300I am not the best of writers and I do not typically write anything personal. I think it’s time to make an exception, however, because this is a rare occasion when I actually have a few things to say.

When I went into labor with my second child, I was unprepared. The birth of my first child took 3 hours from start to finish. No complications and minimal pain. The second time around was different – Antithetically different.

The labor lasted about 13 hours and was agonizingly painful. Through this time my partner was very busy. He had many tasks at hand: rubbing my back, warming the birthing tub water, bringing me drinks, helping me in and out of the tub, etc. He had already had a full day and he’d been up for many, many hours. It was thankless and exhausting for him. There was always more for him to do and he was very intent on helping. I remember looking over at him several times for reassurance and appreciating the fact that he was always right there.

A little over 12 hours in, labor was not progressing well. My midwife said, “You have to get your baby out. I need you to push her out”. I knew that meant something was wrong….that my baby was in distress. We all worked as hard as we could, moving me and turning me. I tried pushing in several positions. My partner was there encouraging me, helping me move around, trying to make things okay.

Finally….finally, the baby’s head passed through the birth canal. However, there was no time for relief. Her face was blue and she was not coming out. Her shoulders were stuck. I remember that my partner was on his knees next to the midwife, waiting…afraid for his daughter. I could not see his face well, but I looked over and saw that my mother was crying. I’ve seen my mother cry once before this, so I knew things were bad. The midwife became really active. She quickly moved me into a position that allowed her to reach in and maneuver the baby free. It worked. As the baby was born, she slipped right through the midwife’s hands. But it was okay because my partner was there waiting, and he caught the baby.

Our baby became responsive and started crying—hard. I saw how happy my partner was that she was able to cry. He was allowing the midwife or me to attend to the baby when she needed us, but he was always right there waiting, supporting and attending.

We were all so relieved that the baby was crying. Some of the heaviness in the room dissipated. Yet, a long while later, the baby had not stopped crying and would not nurse. I was extremely tired and upset about the birth…just frazzled. I told my partner that the baby was hurt and handed her to him, so that he could fix it. I trusted him completely. I knew he could find a way to help her and I knew he would not stop until he did.

So he scooped her up, diagnosed her injury, and got her professional help quickly. Soon she was calm and nursing. I have never been so grateful to anyone in all of my life.

This story is important because it exemplifies the admirable qualities of true fatherhood. It is a man with no experience in his position, sacrificing his own comfort in the interest of his child’s well-being, supporting the mother of his child in every way he possibly could, becoming as responsive to the needs of his child as he is to his own (or more), overcoming personal limitations to be available for his family, patiently waiting, faithfully attending, catching his child when she is falling, and helping her heal when she is wounded.

Like the difference between “boy” and “man” so to is the difference between “father” and “Daddy.” I see a Daddy as being present, involved, responsive, responsible, nurturing and consistently loving. It is one of the most impactful jobs in the human race. All that a father or Daddy does directly influences the mental and physical health and safety of the child. Men, it is challenging, but it’s imperative to understand the importance of your role, and take it more seriously than anything else.

Although I don’t communicate my appreciation nearly often enough, my partner still makes a concerted effort to do these things EVERY DAY with his children…that is a Daddy.

To every Daddy out there,
Thank you.

 

[Originally for Are You The Movement]

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About The Author

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams is a second year doctoral student and recipient of the Master's and Dissertation Fellowship from the University of North Texas. Her research interests are broad and include interpersonal trauma, attachment, LGBT issues with emphasis on bisexuality and sexual orientation victimization, as well as the application of Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism to counseling practice.