Fathers need to be thought about too

The traditional role of a man is to be the strong one in any situation. They don’t have a choice, but to toughen up. There’s a reason why it’s spoken about when a man cries.

When my husband told me that Ayden is born with a critical heart disease & we might not see him again, he cried. He cried with every nerve possible. He cried because his son was going to die; but he couldn’t cry enough because he had the role of the support-provider & making sure that his wife doesn’t slip into the sudden emotional trauma, that was just around the corner.

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Crying was just the tip of the iceberg. Crying was/is the least he could do. Someone said – you bore the baby, but looks like he’s had the labor pains. Well, you could be angry at that very random statement. Does it mean – he’s not supposed to be in pain? Because he’s a man? But that totally unintentional acknowledgement of his grief saved that person from the anger due on them.

The family’s focus on me around that time was natural. Understandable. Women are always considered the weaker lot. Children & child-care are almost always associated with mothers. My still fragile body needed the time, space, nutrients & rest to heal. Family ensured that all these were taken care of. One thing they kinda didn’t pay much attention to was the man of the house. The father. He needed a bandage too.

Why would anyone assume that it’s easier on men? Of course, the experience of having borne the baby physically & feeling every inch of their being in the belly sets the women apart from the male lot. But there do exist fathers who are there not just to pay school fees or buy candies, but also to unconditionally love & parent their tiny ones with every beat of their heart.

All the numerous texts & emails & phone calls to my husband that involved “take care of your wife,” “she needs you now more than any other time,” “it must be very tough for a mother” were all very valid – Sure, I needed him more then than ever – but wouldn’t he have shrunk at the thought that he wasn’t thought about as much as he deserved?

When I’m asked how I am holding up, I’d talk about “us.” I make it a point to include the man in every conversation around Ayden possible – mainly to remind them to remember him. Our grief might be different, but the only person whose grief is the closest to mine is him. He’s signed way too many consent forms along with me, knowing death is a possibility. He has signed a birth certificate & a death certificate in less than a month.

I won’t be able to measure his emotional investment & pain in the whole process. But what I can for sure tell is that his son’s birth & death has shaken his grounds in the most devastating way possible, and every detail is as fresh as day 1 as it is for me. He’s had his first & last Father’s Day in the hospital, wanting to hold his son, but unable to, for the fear of hurting his baby’s delicate body that was struggling to survive.

Every “you’re so strong” pat on my back is partly a result of the same man being there, making efforts to ensure I didn’t crumble even further.

Let’s a take a minute for fathers who value equal-parenting, whose pain might not be visible, who have held their dreams closer for nine months only to see them shatter in seconds… They deserve remembering. Let’s give them their due.

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I know you, momma!

To the momma who lost her child…

I know you. I understand you. I’ve been there. My son died – a year ago, today! When I should be waking up to his midnight cries, I was crying alone at midnight. When I should be by his cot and cradle, I was by his hospital bed. When I should be feeding him and playing with him, I was arranging for his funeral. I died a 1000 deaths everyday after. Please know that I know you. If I hugged you now, held your hands tight, you’d know that I know.

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It’s been a year; it’s been a lifetime!

You are breathing, and there’s your child in every breath. Your heart is beating, and every beat yearns for that one more kiss & drool. I know, you wake up with the same thought that you sleep with. And, that thought, will last till your last breath. I promise. And, that thought will give you the strength – the strength to mourn & grieve your child the way you want, and finally, breath with a different air. Because, that’s the only way out.

You smile, you laugh, you crack jokes, but I know. I know the scars behind the smile, the tears behind the laughter, the grief behind the jokes.

Friends and family meet you. They talk to you. About work, hobbies, weekends, their kids. But not about your kid, and that hurts. I know. You silently hope the next sentence to be about your kid. The kid that left your arms too soon. You hope to hear their name. You truly wished they asked you, but they don’t.

And, when you hear their name, you beam with pride. Yes, your kid. Their name. Their existence. Their short life. Their struggle. Your struggle. Hearing their name is an acknowledgement of all these. I know.

Move on doesn’t mean anything to you, because you don’t. Because it doesn’t heal that easily. Because it was a piece of you. You move on differently than others. You move on with your little one’s thoughts. All the time.

You look at their pictures. You wish you had more of them. You wish you kissed them more. You wish you held them longer. You touch the pictures – how you wish you could still touch them in real. I know.

You enjoyed your pregnancy. You were happy. You were nervous at times. There was excitement. There was anticipation. There was planning. You had tears when you first heard those tiny heart beats. You looked forward to the ultra sounds. You felt their kicks and jabs. You smiled. You had happy tears. You made your world with them. I know.

Know that others wouldn’t understand you completely. Your parents, siblings, friends, in-laws, colleagues, acquaintances, unless they share the same experience. Know that they want you to get over it. Know that they might be uncomfortable with your crying. Know that they’ll say a lot of at leasts. Know that what they say or do will make no sense to you. Know that they don’t know it, though.

Know that they ask you to plan for another kid. It hurts. That’s a different kid. Unborn. You had a kid, whose sex you knew. Whom you loved deeply. Whose existence mattered. You wish they spoke about them, and not about the unborn ones. They are no replacement to the one you just lost. No replacement. I know.

When you hear about pregnancy & birth announcements, you contemplate – between congratulating and looking for a cover to wrap under. You are not jealous. You are not unhappy for them. Pain is the word. Helplessness is another.

Your life has changed. Your priorities are different. You are not the person that you once were.

You don’t make your bed anymore. You don’t care about the unfolded laundry for days. Or maybe weeks. You also would ignore the stains on your curtain. You don’t remember when you last went to your favorite corner of the house with a mug of coffee just to sit & enjoy. You also don’t want others to know all these because being termed ‘depressed’ or ‘cry-baby’ like it was in your hands is never a fun thing to hear.

When you need to cry, do that. When you need to be alone, ask for it. When you feel like talking about them, talk. You don’t need to hide any of these. Be honest with your grief. I’ve faked it, and I regret not being honest.

You are brave. You live the loss of your child. There’s nothing braver than this. I know. I’m very sorry for your loss. You just didn’t lose your child. You lost the giggles and drools. You lost the midnight cries. You lost their crawls. You lost the picky eater. You lost the first day of school. You lost the teenage tantrums. Among many other things. I know.

Friend, I’ve walked in your shoes, and I struggled the walk. Bumpy. Bruised. Thorny. I hope those shoes are broken and no mother gets to wear them again. Ever. Because, I know…