Fathers are humans too

Published: November 9, 2012
SHARES
Email

After the baby was born, it only got more difficult for me. Now, not only did I have to make my wife happy, I had another innocent baby to keep happy as well. PHOTO: AFP

Fatherhood has been a very esteemed title in the world for a long time. Almost every civilisation had some sort of nobility associated with fatherhood. Fathers are seen as strong, diligent protectors. They are the supermen to their children.

But how much of this is based in reality?

Well, I would like to share my tale of becoming a father, just as an example.

It’s been a little over a year since I became a father. My baby boy is growing up fast and every minute spent with him seems like the best time of my life. Just like every child, he’s learning new things and new ways to impress and swoon us. Come to think of it, he is the proverbial “bundle of joy”.

However, the path to fatherhood was not an easy one for me. Obviously, you cannot compare the hardships of pregnancy and childbirth borne by the mother to what a father goes through, but the fathers, too, have their crosses to bear.

We had been married for just three years when we found out that my wife was pregnant. My wife initially thought it was a bit too early to have a child, but I kept consoling her by giving one rhetorical reasoning after the other.

My wife had high aspirations and wanted to have a career of her own first. Being pregnant changed that and changed the way she viewed everything. This started showing in her mood swings, the way she carried herself and her attitude towards me. I had to be the “man”, and by virtue of being a man, I had to be ‘strong’ and capable of bearing all this. In retrospect, I wasn’t ready to be a father myself, however, I was in denial.

I didn’t want to appear as the guy who runs away from the hard challenges of life. I kept idealising other fathers in the circle of my family and friends. Most of them, when they had their kids, were about my age, and some were even married for a far less period than I was. So why was it that they appeared to be content and excited while I was still unsure and nervous?

I did a little analysis and when I looked at our culture, I noticed that most men don’t have to worry about having kids. Usually, men only have to provide financial support to their wives and children; they’re not responsible for helping raise the kids since, according to our culture, it’s the mothers’ job. A father usually goes to work, comes back home, plays with his children for a few minutes and then goes to sleep. So, of course, those fathers I knew were content, and the ones who didn’t fit these criteria actually loved kids and genuinely wanted to have them.

My wife’s pregnancy was a difficult period for me. I was pretending to be happy in front of everyone. I had to look and feel elated in front of my wife because she was going through the actual pregnancy; my worries were nothing compared to her’s. I had to appear content in front of my family, because they were looking forward to seeing us becoming parents, as that’s the gauge of a successful marriage in our culture.

I had to appear happy in front of my friends as well, because if I told them my true feelings, I would get a lecture on Islamic teachings and how it was our religious duty to procreate and be thankful to God. So all this pretending put me in a very odd mental state.

I was with my wife physically but not mentally, I would meet my family but that, too, was just to assure them that we were all fine. All the while I kept thinking to myself whether there was a way out of this; could I catch a break for just a moment? But the truth was, there was no way out of it. I started getting into arguments with people whom I usually wouldn’t argue with, and slowly just became reclusive. The thought of an abortion went through our minds as well, but the religious upbringing quickly shunned it. Whether that was the right decision or not, is perhaps a topic for another day.

After the baby was born, it only got more difficult for me. Now, not only did I have to make my wife happy, I had an innocent baby to keep happy as well. I could’ve taken the traditional route with the ‘hands-off’ approach, but I never had that cultural male role in my mind for myself. I wanted to be a part of raising my child, I wanted to change his diapers, wake up in the middle of the night to console him, to play with him for hours. But with the entire emotional roller coaster during the pregnancy, I was too exhausted to take up that role.

I couldn’t give proper attention to my wife or my child. I did wake up in the nights to console by baby, I still changed his diapers and fed him and played with him. But I did it only because I had to, not because I wanted to. If it weren’t for my wife, I would probably spend the rest of my life in this state of mind, subconsciously ignoring the real responsibilities of my life and just chugging along. She was the one who saw the telltale signs in me and gave me direction and brought me back to being myself.

I’m glad my wife had the intellect and patience to better understand what I was going through, for bearing with me and also having the courage to make me realise what was actually going on with me. However, I’m sure there are a lot of men out there going through or have gone through the same without any support or anyone actually understanding them. To them I would like to say, you’re not alone; fatherhood is tough stuff, just hang in there. And to their wives I would like to say, fathers are humans too. Yes, what you go through during pregnancy cannot be compared to anything else, but just like you, father’s are also scared. They, too, need attention and support.

Read more by Danish here or follow him on Twitter  @Danisshhhh

Danish Shah

Danish Shah

The author is an IT professional by day and a quasi couch/facebook/twitter activist by night. He tweets @Danisshhhh (twitter.com/Danisshhhh)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nandita.

    Firstly, congrats on having a baby ! And it’s heartening to read that your bundle of joy is loved and cherished !

    I am very skeptical of writing what I am going to write next because I am wary of the comments that my words will attract. But I’m going to say it anyway.
    You mentioned you weren’t ready for fatherhood and your wife thought it was early days in the marriage to take on such a massive responsibility and you guys considered an abortion. Well, having a child scares the living daylights out of loads of folks out there – these feelings are absolutely normal and natural; raising a child is no mean task and a couple should opt for pregnancy only if they’re aware of the responsibility and change that comes along with it.

    But what amazes me no end are the people who are taken aback by pregnancy. I’ve heard people talk about an unplanned pregnancy and the upheaval it brings about in their lives. Newsflash : Pregnancy is the result of unprotected sex. If you’re not ready for a child, there are plenty of ways to avoid getting pregnant. I think it’s rather irresponsible to not use protection and then drone on about how you were not ready for it. You’re not ready for a baby? Use a condom. Bringing a child into the world is a huge ,huge deal. You have got to be ready for it – that’s the least one can do for a poor , innocent child. It’s very unfair to the child if he’s born to parents who weren’t ready for him. The poor kid ends up suffering in such cases – the kid is handed out a raw deal and that is unfair to say the least. I wonder what happens to kids whose parents never manage to come to terms with the unplanned pregnancy and think of the child as a mistake. Young married couples need to behave responsibly.

    Glad to see that things worked out for you and the family. It was really heartwarming to read that you love your boy and that he is a source of joy to you and the three of you are in a happy place now. My best wishes to you, your wife and the little one. Hope you stay blessed and may your lives be filled with joy.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ibrahim

    A great blog by the writer
    When one becomes a father he has to be more strong and ready to take new responsibilities.
    Proud son of my Proud Father!!!Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Lovely story… my husband used to stay up all night with my first born – he actually “wanted” to do that :) MY husband even bathes and changes the kids and plays with them …. people say tumne achi training di hia :SRecommend

  • Donnie Brasco

    @Nandita
    Newsflash: None of the contraceptives out there work 100% of the time! Do some research before going on a hissy fit! thanks!Recommend

  • Parvez

    What I got from this is that you have a very supportive and understanding wife, hopefully you know that. You did a good job of describing your feelings before and after, but many fathers go through the same or similar process. @Nandita has made some sensible suggestions, worth thinking about, on the subject.Recommend

  • Humanist

    @Nandita.: You have heard people talking about an unplanned pregnancy and the upheaval it brings about in their lives. And you also know that “Pregnancy is the result of unprotected sex.” But what you need to know at this minute is:
    None of the methods is quite 100 per cent effective, which means the only guaranteed way of preventing conception is to not have sex.
    You should also remember that some methods are quite complicated to use, and no method is as safe as the figures quoted here.
    Recommend

  • Your Wife

    My dear, you have opened a side of fatherhood unheard and blissfully ignored in our society.
    Just to let you know that I am with you!Recommend

  • Your Wife

    My dear, you have opened a side of fatherhood blissfully ignored and unheard in our society. Just to let you know that I am with you!Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author “fathers are humans too”

    I guess being human also includes unconditional loving and care of kids you bring into this worldRecommend

  • Humanist

    @Nandita.: You have heard people talking about an unplanned pregnancy and the upheaval it brings about in their lives. And you also know that “Pregnancy is the result of unprotected sex.” But what you need to know at this minute is: None of the methods is quite 100 per cent effective, which means the only guaranteed way of preventing conception is to not have sex. You should also remember that some methods are quite complicated to use, and no method is as safe as the figures quoted here. [1]: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/sexrelationships/facts/contraceptionwhich.htm][1].Recommend

  • Sane

    Father or Mother have unconditional relationship with their children. They bear everything and all agonies to raise them, educate them without wishing a return or reward. But, is this same for children to their Father and Mother?Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I’m aware none of the methods is 100% effective but more often than not, pregnancy is a result of poor/no planning rather than failed birth control.Recommend

  • Nandita.
  • Humanist

    @Nandita.:
    You need to understand that:
    When used correctly, a male condom is about 98 per cent effective. This means that only about 2 in every 100 women would get pregnant in the course of a year.
    So may be the author is voicing the feelings of those 2 in 100. Just let their voices be heard!!Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Humanist:

    I am very amused by your assumption. Also, majority of the time, unplanned pregnancies are a result of poor/no planning rather than failed birth control and my first comment was addressed to them. Recommend

  • Haseeb Talal Khan

    Glad to hear the feelings of a father from a father. In my opinion, whether you use contraceptives or not, you can’t plan a pregnancy….so nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, and being a father is a great feeling, and young couples had to go through real tough times, specially at the time of first baby….good to hear that your wife is intelligent enough to support you and your feelings, while most of the wives are not…Recommend

  • anwar suhail

    Thanks for the topic. Sensitive writing.Recommend

  • Logic

    Logically statistics about effectiveness should talk about frequency of encounters rather than a year.Recommend

  • Ali Sajid Imami

    A very interesting and thought provoking Article. Well done, Danish.Recommend

  • Rambino

    There are other methods of contraception, such as the hormonal implant that are much more effective than condoms in preventing pregnancy (99.9% over three years). There are many more forms of contraception available than the pill and condoms. There should not be nearly as many unintended pregnancies in this day and age as there actually are. Recommend

  • Ms. Ras

    Happy to read that there are men who acutally think that child raising is an equal responsibility for mother and father. Recommend

  • Ms. Ras

    And I agree that our kids are our bundles of Joys literally. There is no blessing greater than seeing your kids grow and being loved. Recommend

  • Human

    Wow Im glad that there are Men who feel & share this responsibility on being Parents , May God bless you & your family .
    you have a strong wife its good to know you respect her
    Well written Recommend

  • broken

    behtreen friend!! i wish my wife would have understood it tooRecommend