You’re Not Ready—And That’s Okay

January 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Joe Lewis

It’s been five weeks since my first child was born. At just over a month into fatherhood, I find that I finally have the chance to sit down and reflect about all the wonderful (and stressful) changes that having a baby has brought into my life. And make no mistake: They are many. First, however, I would say this to any expecting fathers out there.

You are not prepared.

That’s not a slam on your manhood. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability to handle pressure situations. It’s just a fact of life. You are not prepared for the deluge of changes that your life is about to undergo. But it’s okay. Nobody is prepared, really. If people had a real sense of the utter chaos and confusion that accompanies the birth of a child, they probably wouldn’t have children. That ignorance, the complete and utter inability (particularly of men) to contemplate all that being a parent entails is the very bliss that gives us the guts to bring those wonderful children into our lives.

For today, though, I’d like to talk about the birthing experience in particular. A reasonable man would expect that the whole ordeal to be difficult to watch. After all, your wife is pushing an object roughly the size of a watermelon out of an opening that’s about the size of a lemon. There’s bound to be some “collateral damage” involved, right?

You have no idea. You just don’t. It’s impossible to understand birth until you’ve actually been in the room. So don’t get all worked up about it now. You’ll just freak yourself out. Simply understand that the experience will be unlike anything you’ve seen before or will ever see again. It will be hard to watch, but it’s not about you. It’s about supporting your wife and making sure your child is born safely. So do it. Talk to her. Tell her that she’s doing a fantastic job. Hold her hand.

It’s okay to freak out a little bit. Admit to yourself in the moment that you don’t understand what’s happening. You might even get a little bit overwhelmed. This is normal. So try not to get all bent out of shape about the fact that things feel out of control. They aren’t. Just because you can’t control the situation doesn’t mean that the situation isn’t under control. Trust your doctors and nurses. Do what they tell you to do.

As traumatic as watching a live birth can be, there is a saving grace. Once your lay eyes on your child, you will immediately push all of it out of your mind. When you see that baby, you can’t think about anything else. It’s just not possible. So stick it out, Dad. The payoff at the end is exponentially more worthwhile than the uncomfortable feelings you’ll experience throughout the birth.

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