By Kurt W. Kroeck
It seems appropriate, somehow, to be writing this just 5 days before my son Thomas turns a year old. I know that there’s a lot of buzz on the internet about different parenting issues, concerns, and styles. I also know that when my partner Holly and I talked about how we were going to do things, I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the things she planned. When she would rant about “Mommy Wars” and other things, I’d just sort of draw a blank. I could gather this was a big deal, and it seemed like most of the people involved were, well, mothers. This made some sense to me. So, too, did the fact that she feels very strongly that no matter what decision a mother makes respective of her pregnancy and child-rearing, she should trust herself. As a father, I know that my input and, more importantly, my support was important to her. Ultimately, though, it boiled down to trusting her instinct and supporting her actions based on it.
Thomas’s birth was probably the first and biggest example. She had been fighting for a VBAC and everything was all clear for it. There were no issues whatsoever. I knew that with her previous birth, she’d been bullied into an emergency c-section and being able to deliver naturally was important to her beyond anything. So, when she suddenly booked a c-section, it was a bit out of character.
As it turns out, her instincts more than likely saved his life.
I say this not so much to brag about her or myself, but to illustrate a point about our role, the role of fathers, in the pregnancy and birthing aspect of life. It’s not to knock on parents who aren’t a mother and father pairing; it’s to point out the supportive role we as fathers should play in our partners’ journey.
From the moment she found out she was pregnant, almost every thought she had revolved around the baby she was carrying. Being honest, for me, the baby was almost an abstract factor. I wasn’t carrying him. I know not every father feels that way, but I also know many do. I didn’t get morning sickness, I didn’t feel the first movements. She did. I didn’t swell, deal with back pain, braxton hicks, or any of the other number of pregnancy related aches and pains she did. All I could do was be there for her through it and help ease what I could. When she was recovering, I accepted my supportive role and again, did what I could. There were times when all I could really do was be there, which was frustrating and somewhat baffling. Seeing her take on the lion’s share did and does still blow my mind. It’s hard to think that just being there is a big support, but she assured me and still assures me that it’s extremely important.
I went into this whole thing with no idea what an Attachment Parent was. No clue about Mommy Wars. I learned about everything from cervical mucus to shallow latch on the fly. I learned about the benefits of babywearing and co-sleeping. I learned how to make all those things safer. I learned how to properly change a cloth diaper, how to soothe a baby going through growth spurts and teething. I still don’t truly know what an Attachment Parent is, or how I became one.
What I do know is that being there is important. It’s important first and foremost to our son. It’s also important to her. It’s also important to me. My son Thomas, The Fish, turns one year old on November 30. He toddles around, learning to walk; he babbles a bit, learning to talk. As he grows, I’m finding that I can be much more involved. However, what I will never forget and what I hope that other fathers know about all of this is that trusting your child’s mother and being there is one of the most important things we can ever do.
About the Author: Kurt W. Kroeck is a freelance writer, WW2 re-enactor, and father who works in graphite, charcoal, electro pencil on granite, and digital mediums. He is also a tailor, creating accurate depictions of historical items and clothing. He currently lives with his girlfriend in Southeast Missouri and has one son, Thomas. He is actively involved in animal rescue, self-sustainability awareness and education via their blog Midwest Punk Rock Homesteaders. He is continually evolving to better foster more diverse understanding of history and art of various mediums.