I don’t think I properly thanked you for all of the ways in which you were exceptional, as a husband and a father, after the birth of our first child, Levi. So, let me count the ways:
- When we first brought Levi home, and I was devastated because I had to return to work after 4.5 weeks, thanks for being there to comfort me. (You see, I wasn’t covered under FMLA mandatory unpaid leave laws. So, 4.5 weeks was the maximum I could take.) Thanks for letting me hold our son for hours, unmoved from the sofa without suggesting I “take a nap while he naps.” Thanks for taking on all of the household chores so I could soak up and enjoy this time. Thanks for limiting visitors who wanted to hold the baby so it didn’t take away my opportunity to do it myself.
- When I insisted on co-sleeping because the nighttime breastfeeding sessions had me up every hour, thanks for snuggling our baby when I desperately needed rest. I know you didn’t get much sleep, either.
- When I had to return to work after those short 4.5 weeks, thanks for turning down that one job you liked and accepting a job that allowed you to work from home and take care of our newborn baby. When I had to take that week long work trip to Florida in that first week back (when Levi was less than 5 weeks old), thank you for sending me detailed instructions and this helpful info on how to ship breastmilk home (with dry ice, of course!) and allowing me to call you and sob unintelligibly from my hotel room.
- When I worked day in and day out to pump breastmilk for our baby when I wasn’t home, thanks for being so supportive. When you knew I desperately wanted him to receive exclusively breastmilk, thanks for saving every extra ounce when you used it. Thanks for not getting frustrated with me when I gave you instructions about which bag to use first, how long to store them in the fridge, and when to use the smaller bags – over and over and over. Thanks for listening like it was the first time and always repeating, “Ok my love, I’ll take care of it.”
- When one day I called you from work in the 7th week of our son’s life and squeaked out the words, “I don’t think I can do this,” through a muffled sob after being asked to travel for work again, thank you for saying, “We’ll come with you.”
- For the next 15+ trips, thank you for coming with me and bringing the baby. Thank you for, without complaining or comment, bringing your laptop to do work from random hotels while managing the baby. Thank you for managing to get all of your work done in random McDonalds across the country, accessing their wifi AND tending to our baby because we were in between hotel rooms on a work trip and I was meeting with a client and had the car. Thank you for staying in uncomfortable hotel rooms, with a baby between us, losing sleep without ever saying a word about it. Thank you for driving on long car rides and pulling over every time I needed to sit in the backseat to breastfeed our child.
- Thank you for not judging me when our credit card balances slowly started to creep upwards because meals for spouses weren’t reimbursed by my company and I couldn’t face leaving the baby.
- Thank you for pretending you didn’t see any of Levi’s firsts without me there. Thanks for pretending I witnessed every first when I was home and he rolled over, crawled, and finally walked. Thanks for letting me have all that joy, and none of the sadness that I would have experienced knowing he did some of this while I was at work and you were home with him.
- Thank you for always taking care of everything: taking on the cooking, the cleaning, the yard work, and more, in addition to working full time from home and taking care of the baby. It was SO much but you handled it incredibly.
- When I requested that my company allow me to switch to a role that had no traveling, and they declined my request, thanks for saying, “Well, now it’ll be easy to leave when you get offered a different job. Don’t worry, we’ll find you one.”
- When I found that new job, thanks for celebrating it and saying I was going to rock it, even though I was scared. Thanks for waiting until I started the new job to tell me how relieved you were because things were starting to get challenging and you really needed me to stop traveling so much for work. That would have been hard to hear before I was able to do it.
- Thank you for waiting until I was settled in the new job to take on more responsibility at work – responsibility that meant you wouldn’t be working exclusively from home anymore. You made that transition so much easier by waiting until I could be more present.
- Thank you for weaning our son when he was 15 months, (after my unsuccessful attempts), by sleeping in the guest room with him for 10 days straight. Thanks for laughing with me after he bit your nipple in the middle of the night, and you couldn’t believe how much it hurt.
- Thanks for showing our children, from the very start, how a real man, a stellar father, and a great partner behaves.
With Love and Gratitude,