Most men work hard for their families. At least the majority of men I have known and worked with. They are not living the life they desire or putting their wants and needs first. They are physically giving it their all, day after day without complaint, to provide a comfortable life for those under their roof.
New dads especially feel the weight of the responsibility on them while adapting to a new life. Yet, most are left to struggle without support or advice. My own experience mirrored this as a new dad to three babies. It’s why I began writing this blog. I thought that by sharing my experience, it could at least start the conversation with others in the same boat. And raise some awareness about the reality of what men go through. Because even if women are not that interested, our sacrifices and pressures are very real. And knowing we are not alone is important. Certainly, when we can feel so apart from the experience.
All eyes are on Mum from day one. Throughout the pregnancy and from the birth. They are supported firstly by the hospitals and sometimes womens groups, then by health visitors and usually other women, friends, and family. And rightly so. They experience massive trauma, physically and mentally, as they go through the wringer from bringing a child into this world.
Sadly, a lot of men lack the same support. For the most, we are left to figure it out for ourselves. From the day of the scan when three heartbeats were first discovered. It became apparent quickly that I was on my own to deal with the situation. At the following appointments, all questions were aimed at my wife. I wasn’t spoken to or asked any questions. As much as I wanted to be involved, I felt very much pushed to the sidelines and ignored. It was a lot to deal with mentally, but I did the best I could without complaining to remain calm and stable for my wife.
It wasn’t until the girls were born and I was sitting in the NICU one morning that a nurse came and sat next to me and asked me how I was doing. I immediately bagan to tell her about how Stacey was coping. The nurse cut me off mid sentence and asked again, “No,” she said, “How are you managing?”. It was the first and only time I was asked that question by a professional. And I poured my heart out to her. She listened intently and absolutely understood my concerns and pressures, from dealing with a high-risk pregnancy to becoming a biological father for the first time. And I remember the release I felt. No one needed that conversation more than me at that moment. That little bit of understanding meant a lot to me during such a turbulent time.
It’s tragic that men come to resent the situation of new fatherhood, but understandable in the context of how separated we can feel from our own families. We get little or no time off after the birth to bond with the newborns. We are for the most already mentally on edge after dealing with the pregnancy. Then again, after babies come home and we have to deal with the pressures of sleep deprivation and work.
If you are in this situation right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. And that you will pull through despite the weight you are under. You may not get any credit for the job you are doing, and don’t expect to get any. It’s just the way it is. But don’t let this discourage you. Keep your head up for your kids and support your partner with what she is going through. Put their needs first and take time for yourself when you can. Even if it’s just to take the dog for a walk to clear your head. Watch for resentment and self-pity. These are traps that will just amplify problems that you are already dealing with.
Online dads groups are a great place to open up and find support whatever your situation. I found strength, laughter, and friendship in some of those groups. As much as women stick together, we men must do the same. We take the brunt of the stresses at home and must stay strong. And keep in mind the bigger picture. We are fathers, and a part of that role is to bring stability during times when there is chaos. Carry your suffering with purpose and with patience and love, which as men, we all must do. Join an online fathers group where you can vent and be understood. There is a higher principle in this universe, and your works are not going unnoticed.
If you are stressed to the point that it is affecting your family and your mental health. I will leave the link to a free meditation exercise that will give you all you need to deal with the pressures you are facing. This simple observation practice got me through the first five years of dealing with life with triplets. Just 10 minutes twice a day is enough.