A few weeks ago, I wrote about a documentary TV programme (I refuse to think of it as reality TV; it’s too good) called One Born Every Minute. It shows women in labor and features interviews with them and their partners talking about what it’s like to become a parent.
What I love is how honest the people taking part have been – like the woman whose son was born with his bowel outside his tummy, who admitted she struggled to bond with him during the days he was in an incubator. None of that “You forget the pain right away and immediately lose your heart to this little creature” stuff.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how all the fathers were completely useless. It was painfully obvious they didn’t know what their role was, what was expected of them, or what their wives and girlfriends needed from them – even though most of them seemed to want to help.
I felt I needed to write an update, in all fairness, to the three fathers I’ve seen since then who have been incredible.
One was an Italian guy in his 40s who was becoming a dad for the first time. His wife kept taking out her agony on him, and he bore it well, even when she made fun of him for not knowing what a tiny item of infant clothing was called.
The second one was the father of twin girls who were born at 23 weeks. One of the girls didn’t survive, and the other was so tiny she didn’t look human. She didn’t even have ears, and had to be incubated for months while she finished developing. This dad was so optimistic and loving toward his little baby and his wife, it brought tears to my eyes. When the nurses asked if the mother wanted to hold little Izzy for the first time, he whipped out his camcorder and kept gushing about how cool it was. Unless it was edited out, no one asked if he wanted a turn. As tiny Izzy was put back in her incubator, he wrapped his arms around his wife and said, “Honey, was that just the coolest thing in the world?”
The third dad was really a surprise. He and his girlfriend were both 17. He held her hand and kept his face next to hers throughout the labor, encouraging her until he was hoarse. Near the end of labor, the nurse said to the girl, “Push into your bottom, Abbie.” My husband and I looked at each other, at a complete loss as to what this meant. The young father seemed to know, though, because he put his face next to Abbie’s sweaty red face and said, “Like you’re doing a poo, Abs. A really big poo.”
These are the kind of men I love to know, watch, and read about.