A note to fathers.
"Wow! This is scary and exciting all at the same time!"
I can still remember screaming the above when I heard "the news" for the first time-and that was 24 years ago! After almost a quarter century, from what I have seen and heard, I sense it's still pretty much the same for fathers. No matter how familiar and normal having a baby can seem to be, there's still great emotions of every kind that can get stirred up in the best of us.
Over the years, I have learned a few things from other fathers that helped me connect well with expectant fathers. That's right, I said expectant fathers. If that sounds funny to you, it's because we are often left out of the "expecting" part-"that's for the moms". Which is a shame, because no matter what, we ought to have permission to be just as expectant as everyone else.
And that is the first thing I learned: we can be just as excited and energized and scared and nervous as mom-and it's ALL good! It's what we DO with the sea of emotions we are feeling that matters the most. The way we channel them will play a HUGE role in determining not only our birth experience, but the experience of the ones we love as well.
This is where our manhood can kick in big time. We can ask good questions, learn as much as we can, and stay involved all the way to and beyond the birth. We can voice our concerns in a positive, collaborative way that makes the pregnancy a time of "we" and "us" instead of "you".
I have seen time and again the strong correlation between involved, supportive fathers and positive pregnancy experiences for families. Not just for mom, but for other family members as well. Because when we step openly into such an unfamiliar place as the birth experience, it shows our true heart and true strength-which can give great hope and strength to others in our world.
SOOO...go for it! Take deep breaths, talk to yourself REAL loud, scream into a pillow, contort your face-and let all of your heart, mind and soul get involved in the most amazing, fascinating, miraculous journey you will ever have the honor to be a part of in your life.
Richard Oxenham, father of 3-including one home birth.