Okay, so I want you to picture this:
Your wife is 4 and a half months pregnant and you walk into your 20 week sonogram with her. The office is empty, aside from the girls at the desk who are looking at you like you walked in wielding a knife.
“Sir, you can’t be in here, only the mother is permitted.”
Just like that, you realize everything is a bit different. You do not want it to be, but it is. The whole world is about to change, not just yours, but everyone’s.
You see, I’ve wanted to be a Dad for as long as I can remember. I never just wanted to be a Dad, I wanted to be the Dad that my wife brags to her friends about, the Dad my daughter tells her friends about. I went to the appointment where we heard our daughters heartbeat and in that moment mine starting missing beats, I vowed to my wife I’d be there every step of the way.
As expecting fathers, we do not carry the weight (literally) of the pregnancy and it’s something that a part of me was always a bit jealous of. The immediate connection built between the mother and child from conception is something that you simply cannot replicate. I knew my path to the connection was being a support system for my wife, an extra set of ears at doctors visits, and just simply being there whenever I could. Now that presence was being ripped away from me.
Around this time the world was in disarray dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. An unprecedented virus that ravaged its way into the United States and directly into my home state, New York. Nobody knew how to navigate this virus and I truly want to believe everyone was handling it with their best intentions of subduing the spread. Hospitals were packed, not enough medical equipment stocked, and lives were being lost by the thousands.
Can I blame the doctors for limiting the amount of traffic in and out of their offices? No. Can I be selfish and be crushed that I can’t be there to see the sonograms, hear the heartbeats, and talk to our doctors one-on-one? Of course.
Around this time, rumors starting swirling that mothers were to be expected to deliver their babies alone at the hospital and without their life partners present. This literally cannot be possible. I’m okay with sitting in the car during sonograms but I couldn't bear the thought of not watching my wife bring our daughter into this world. I want to be the one to cut her umbilical cord, and I want to be there to truly savor the precious moments with my wife and newborn daughter, because I will never get those back. I sent out petitions to everyone I knew, I screamed about it on social media like I’ve never protested anything before. For my whole life I have been told by the men that I admire that the moment their children were born were the best minutes of their lives and I was simply not willing the give that up.
As time progressed, stipulations were put into place that delivering mothers could have at least one support partner present as long as certain parameters were met. Give me a million nasal swabs, four layers of masks & gloves and I wouldn't have complained for one second.
At 2:30am on July 31st, 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, I finally got those moments. When I tell you that I didn’t know what I was fighting for months prior, I truly mean it. To hold my wife’s hand, cheer her on, and to be the first person to look my daughter in her eyes, I can’t put into words what those moments meant to me. Those minutes should never be taken from a family, the memories are priceless.
I know Dads have the “easy” job when it comes to pregnancy, I will never discount the work that mothers put forth during those 40 weeks. For every Dad out there wanting to simply be there, to simply be an immediate presence in your childrens lives but are embattled each day navigating around Covid guidelines, my advice to you is:
- Be creative. Support may not look the same as you’d expected or planned but it is just as important, if not more.
- Be patient. The ends will justify the means.
- Be there. You read that right, just be there. Whether it’s in the car, on FaceTime, or whatever. These moments are the first brick in the foundation for the story that you are building and you’ll never get the chance to rewrite those chapters again.