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.
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.