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Just Being There
Photo: Choi Chee Seng
Dr. Jonathan Ives, of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Birmingham, claims being present at your child’s birth may make a father feel like a failure and can damage the bond with that child.

The good doctor states that some men suffer because they only play a passive role when they expect to be the proactive participant. All they can do is provide emotional support for their spouse. This damages their psyche and makes it hard for them to be good fathers later on. The risk of this happening is so great that he feels the best place for dad is in the waiting room.

There is so much wrong with this that I scarcely know where to start.

I was present with my wife when she gave birth to all three of my sons. Being there was the greatest experience I had as a father, and helped bond me closely with my three sons. When I was there in the delivery room with my wife, I knew who the proactive individuals were going to be—the obstetrician and my wife. My wife was the one carrying my child. She was the one going through labor. She was the one doing the heavy lifting. Understanding that is not rocket science – it is common sense.

There to Hold Her Hand

I also knew that she would be going through one of the most stressful periods of her life. That all I could do was to provide emotional support. But that was important. I was there to hold her hand, to give her someone to yell at, to wipe her brow, if necessary to growl at the doctor for her—to be there.

Did I wish I could do more? Sure. What man wants to see his wife in pain and not actively work to stop that pain? But I did what I could.

I was there for her—three times. She appreciated it. She appreciated it even when her pain made her angry with me. If she needed a tackling dummy—I could fill that roll. I’m tough, even if I was not as tough as her. When she needed someone to hold her fears, I could fill that roll to. When she wanted someone’s hand to hold—or crush—she had mine, not a stranger’s. That’s what being a man is about.

After her hard work and pain, after being there, came the reward. I had a new son, red, wet, squalling—and the most beautiful sight in the world. Each time the doctor gave the child to me to hand to my wife. Each time I told my new son what a wonderful life we would have. Each time I passed my wife our child, and watched her smile. For all my “just standing around being there”,  each time I felt a thrill I have rarely experienced at any other time.

Was it a challenge? Yes. Should I have traded that smile for the safety of the waiting room? Not me.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2010 by
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