O: Daddy, where you there when I was born?
O: Was it gross? Mommy said it was gross.
There has been a lot of noise on the internet about some sports ball player missing some sports ball games because his wife was birthing a person he helped make.
A father's role is important and it has been minimized and trivialized for generations. Taking paternity leave is stigmatized, not only when it comes to professional athletes, but in more traditional workplaces, as well. It is changing. It is getting better. More and more companies are offering generous paternity leaves for families, and more and more men are taking them, and all of the dirty diapers and sleepless nights that come with them.
I took two weeks with O and three weeks with P. With O, Kate kept insisting that she'd be up and running in a week, and while she probably could have been, I couldn't tear myself away from the tiny person we had just met. Sure there was work to do. The idea that paternity leave could ever be considered a vacation is ludicrous. There were diapers and night wakings and, somehow, we still had to eat.
But the real work of those first few weeks was so much more important than the practicalities surrounding bringing home a newborn. I had to get to know her, find out what drastic changes this new person was bringing to our family. I had to stop and breathe in the new life that had joined us and form the very beginnings of the relationship that will have to see us through kindergarten, broken bones, driver's licenses, and heartbreak. I wouldn't have given up those five weeks of paternity leave for anything in the world.
And Kate wanted me to include a special message to anyone out there in internet-land who suggested that this sports ball player's wife should have scheduled a C-section on a non-game day:
Only after you volunteer to get completely unnecessary and life-threatening surgery, that puts at risk not only your own well-being, but also the life of your child, only after that, could you ever presume to make such a suggestion. And please, go f**k yourself.
Sincerely, Kate Felton