Three years ago when my wife and I were raising our first son, we were introduced to a method called “Cry-it-out” and thankfully it was a method both my wife and I were able to get on board with. I won’t go into the details of it, but basically it allowed baby to sooth himself to sleep. Its something dads have an easier time dealing with than mom’s for whatever reason. It allowed us to get on a proper sleep schedule, and kept the sanity and our marriage intact. For my son, it allowed him the space to grow without being held all the time, which is huge in his growth and development. It’s also a hot topic on-line as its not an accepted method of parenting across the board. With all that being said, this post isn’t about the sleep habits of newborns. It’s not about parenting, or marriages. This one is strictly about me, and a recent experience I had.
First I want to explain that my stresses as a dad are no different as yours. I’m not going to pretend my problems are more important than yours, or that you have it easy. The message of this post is “This worked for me” and it could work for you too.
It was November 5, 2012 (11 hours after my second son was born, to be exact). We were still in the hospital and my wife was scheduled to attend a breast feeding clinic, which I was not allowed to attend (Privacy concerns for all the other mothers). My wife suggested I go home for a nap since we lived a few blocks from the hospital and I had spent the night before trying to sleep on the delivery room floor. I jumped at the chance, ran to the car and headed home.When I was leaving the parking lot of the hospital something happened. I was sitting at the red light, and I was overcome with emotion.
Let me pause there and take you back a bit. In the summer of 2011, my wife was pregnant for the third time. She had previously experienced a miscarriage in 2008 before giving birth to my first son in 2009. This time around, it happened again and we experienced our second miscarriage. Devastated but determined to push through, we decided to start trying again almost immediately. Sadly nothing was happening and we spent several months trying to conceive. We went through all the hoops of blood tests, ultrasounds (Both of us. Side note, its very awkward having an ultrasound performed on your testicles by an attractive technician while holding down the rest of your business with a towel to avoid any accidental slips). When everything came back clear, it was time for the sperm count test. Terrifying was my first thought, until I found out you can make the sample at home and drive it to the clinic. Which is ultimately what I did, twice. Well the place I took that sample to, was right through the intersection that I was sitting at that morning after my sons birth.
Sitting at that light I found myself reflecting on how far we had come, and how much we went through to have this baby. Reminded of those days I gave samples and drove through that same intersection hoping it would result in some answers.This is why I started to get overwhelmed. As I continued driving home, I found myself straining to see the road though my watered eyes. As usual, I was holding it in, hoping to make it to my driveway and in the house before a neighbour rushed to congratulate me on our newborn. Luckily I made it to my destination, in the front door and straight to the couch in the living room (still in my shoes and jacket). That’s when it happened. It started with a couple tears, and my mind started to race. My emotions were getting the best of me. “This isn’t supposed to happen to dad, this should be a roller coaster reserved for mother’s and their hormones” is what I said to myself out loud. Ignoring everything I had been raised with, I let my self cry, The more I let it out, the more it came. Within minutes I was sobbing, literally sobbing. Ugly crying at its ugliest, but I couldn’t stop. What was happening to me? it went on for what felt like 10 minutes, although it was probably closer to five. Afterwards I felt relieved, lighter even, as if a weight had been lifted.
Looking back I started to realize what had happened to me. I had one of those moments that therapists recognize as a breakthrough. Either that, or a total breakdown. Looking back I know it was a break through. Turns out the years of stress were building on me. Not just the stresses we all face in everyday life, but the stress of my job. In a previous post I mentioned how I have already dealt with a lot of death on my job. In fact last week we had another one, pushing me past the 40+ mark for sure. After each and every one of those calls, we would all return to the hall, make a couple inappropriate jokes and move on. That’s how we deal with it, that’s just how it’s been done in the past and it appears will continue into the future. Maybe it is better to suppress it, as long as you know one day it’s going to resurface.
I believe this is what happened to me, what started out as joy from the birth of my son, suddenly turned into a cathartic cryfest over all the calls I had experienced until now. It was by far my least “manliest” moment (Testicle Ultrasound being a close second) but I’m okay with it. I felt better afterwards and still do to this day.
Since then I find myself getting a bit more emotional than I was used to prior to my “moment”. For example, the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary did a bit of a number on me, as I am sure it did to everyone (Especially us parents). Instead of suppressing that, I turned off all my gadgets and took a nap with my 5 week old. Ignored most of the media, and tried to avoid it. Every now and then though I catch a Facebook posting, or a news article that shows the victims faces and I end up having a moment to myself until I feel better.
I didn’t really choose this way of dealing with things, it just happened that way. I’m not afraid to admit it though, because that’s what this blog is about. It’s my therapy and maybe an answer some of you may have been looking for, whether you realised you were looking for it or not. I hope this post is received well and I hope it helps some of you to realize that real men cry. It’s okay, and I plan on teaching my boys that as well when it’s time.
Until next time,
Keep your head up and your nuts covered!