I’m talking about the birth of our son, whom we have affectionately nicknamed “Little PK” until we announce his name. Tonight, my wife will be induced and will begin the long process of labor, which will lead to the miracle of the birth of our first child.
We are excited. We are anxious. We are nervous. We are tired. We are everything you could imagine, and much more.
Personally, I find myself reflective today. This isn’t much of a surprise. I tend to be a very reflective person. My reflections are on lessons have learned over the course of this 9-month journey. These are lessons based on my experience as a father-to-be who is anxiously waiting to hold our son and teach him the “First Down Cheer.”
What follows are a few of the lessons I, and truly my wife, have learned.
Workplace equality is still an issue for pregnant women. The United States has made tremendous gains over the past century in providing equal opportunities for women in the workplace, however there is still much work to be done. Pregnant women still face the stigma of being “required” to be a “stay at home mother.” While that is a noble and honorable choice for many women, and hard work at that, not every woman wants or can stay at home. Work needs to be done to make sure that employers know and honor the rights of pregnant women. We also need to make sure that jobs are safe for a pregnant woman, regardless of her company’s size.
Fathers have few rights prior to a child’s birth. For a family that seeks to be egalitarian in our structure, it was shocking to learn how few rights I have as a father. The father is almost treated as an afterthought, legally, until the child is born. Luckily, we have a wonderful doctor who included both of us. That is not the case in every situation. We have a major issue with absentee fathers in this country, and laws that limit the rights of a father can add to this. While we must protect the right of mothers and expectant mothers, we must do the same for fathers.
Everyone has an opinion. We have received a lot of advice about how to be a parent. For everyone who has given us advice, we are tremendously thankful and blessed by your support. However, we also had to learn that you don’t have to listen to everyone’s advice. This came when we started to realize that the advice we were receiving was often contradictory. You have to listen to what others have said, but then make the best decision for you and your family.
It takes more than two people to raise a child. Abbi and I cannot raise our child on our own. We can’t. We need the support of others in raising our child. We need the prayers of our communities and families to strengthen us. We need the wisdom of doctors to tell us how to make sure our child stays healthy. We need the encouragement of other mothers and fathers, especially when we think we are not doing it right. We need the support of our friends. We need the entire community to help us to teach our child what it means to love God and to love others. I’m not sure how a parent can survive the demands of raising a child without the support of others. I am thankful for the community that has surrounded and supported us. We would not have made it to this day without them.