Having children – what’s it like for men? (and some tips from a woman)

 

“All men are naturally gentle,

and we ought to remember that the word

‘gentlemen’ has its roots in this fact.”

Serge Benhayon, Esoteric Teachings and Revelations p 551.

 

I have been wondering what it is like having children from a man’s point of view.

Our focus is largely on the woman and the baby during this time – rightly so – but are we truly honouring how deeply a man feels what is going on too? Whilst men do not physically have to bear and birth children, they most certainly have a part to play in the making of children (for we could not do it without them!).

So what is it like from a man’s point of view? I thought I would ask my husband!

Now, my husband is not the father of my children…he had three children with his former wife before we met and I had two children with their father before I met him…so we don’t have the same experience of childbirth, but we do have a lot of experience between us, when it comes to having children. We have five children, and three grandchildren between us, and it has been a great learning and (mostly) a great joy for us.

Paul never wanted to bring children into this world, because of the way the world was, for he saw the world as something that hurt people. But he fell in love with a woman and then, as it happens, they found themselves pregnant. At this point he felt that he had to change, to become more responsible in the world to support his child through life. He took all this very seriously. He knew there was a way to do this and he knew it was up to him to find it. This was more than just about protection, it was about finding a true way of life. He stopped taking drugs, started studying naturopathy, changed his diet, and started exploring the books of the Theosophical Society.

His wife, who had loved to party, became lovely. Pregnancy really suited her and she embraced it. She stopped drinking, started taking care of herself, and was radiant, and they were really looking forward to having the baby together.

The labour was horrific for Paul. He is a man who will just do what he has to do, and this quality was very much called on. They were booked into the birthing unit at hospital, but when the labour started, the midwife arrived and said the baby was still breech (bottom down, which is the opposite of the usual –  and much easier to deliver – head down position). This meant that if they went to the hospital, the baby would be born by Caesarian section, and the mother and midwife would have no control over this. But if she had it at home, she could have it naturally, and the midwife was very experienced at breech deliveries and happy to support with this.

The midwife had been up all night delivering another baby, so she had a sleep while the mother laboured, and then woke up when she was ready to deliver, as something in her heard a change in the nature of the sounds the mother was making. Paul held the mother while she pushed the baby out. The baby was not breathing, and Paul thought: What have I done? She started breathing in the end, and so did Paul. All through her first weeks of life, he would get up at night to check if she was still breathing.

It was lovely for Paul to watch the mother and daughter together. He was happy to step back and support them, not needing or wanting much at all. There was so much love that not much else was looked for or needed. This first baby was lovely for both of them and she was an easy baby; she slept through the night, and was not demanding at all.

Then the mother fell pregnant again when the first baby was 7 months old and this pregnancy was hard because she was tired. There were no problems with the pregnancy or the home delivery, but after the birth, the baby was jaundiced and had to have a blood transfusion because of a rare interaction with the mother’s immune system.

The lovely young woman doctor greeted him and asked his permission to give the baby a blood transfusion. He remembers handing her over with tears pouring down his face. The mother was too exhausted to hold the baby while she had the transfusion, so Paul held her, listening to her heart racing, while he was covered in blood, thinking he had done something wrong. The doctor said at the end: You are a beautiful parent, you have not done anything wrong, it was a very rare thing that happened, and she will be ok.

Soon after they took the baby home, they were playing in the park and the mother broke her ankle. That was hard. She had a cast on her leg, trying to look after two small children while Paul was at work. He had also been studying naturopathy at night, but had to drop this to take care of the family. Simple things like shopping became a nightmare. One time he came home to find her pushing a shopping trolley home with one child in it and the baby strapped to her.

All the previous nurturing went out the window, in the struggle for survival.

Eventually it became so hard that they decided to leave the city, and move to the country, near Byron Bay, with all their belongings in the back of an old Valiant station wagon, and some money in the bank. They bought an old farmhouse and built a life there.

Paul still thought he had to go to Sydney to make enough money to support his family, so he had a foot in both places. He worked for 2-3 weeks in Sydney, then would come home for a couple of weeks and work locally, then go back down to the city. The money was huge, but the costs far exceeded the money. Leaving his wife to look after the kids on her own for weeks at a time took a toll on their relationship.

They were both exhausted and stressed. And then to try and cope he started smoking dope again, driving a further wedge between them. There was no longer a sense of togetherness, but of alienation. Each was trying their very best, but with no true care for themselves or each other.

And then they fell pregnant again…

Paul says:

“It was lovely to hold my babies and to watch them grow up, and still is.

My inadequacies at it were really hard for me to cope with. I never lived up to what I thought my responsibilities were, as a provider, as a protector, as a safety net, to be happy around them, to care for them, to meet them always…It hurt to feel this and I shut down to some degree…and turned to work and dope.

The relationship was always tumultuous, and the changes during the first pregnancy were positive, but after that the tiredness and stress widened the cracks considerably. Once we became pregnant, the relationship revolved around the baby, and then the babies.

As a man, I was always not knowing what to do. I was always at a loss when labour came. Labour was huge and I did not understand what to do. It was horrific to watch my partner go through that.

I was always at a loss, trying to do the right thing by my family. I was always trying and I felt like all that trying was never enough. And it was never going to be enough.

Having three girls took me to a place in me that was very, very tender, and I loved to be around them. They were very precious to me.”

Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a challenging time for a woman, but also for a man. If they are both able to fully embrace the changes, and if there is time and space to rest and nurture when needed, it can be a truly lovely time. But most of us continue to try and work, or we have other children to raise, and the tiredness and nausea can be overwhelming at times. We don’t always want to do all the stuff we liked to do before, and often just feel like resting and nesting when we can.

If a man is used to being the centre of his wife’s attention, and having his needs met regularly, this can be a difficult adjustment to make. The woman’s body undergoes massive changes, and if we are not willing to embrace these, to celebrate and appreciate our womanly selves, these changes can lead to (or aggravate) feelings of lack of self-worth, low self-esteem, even self-loathing, which can make it very hard for us as women, and hard for our men too…for sometimes no matter how much they appreciate and love us, it never feels enough.

Labour

Labour is called labour for a reason…it is hard work! And it is hard for a man to have to stand by and watch his wife in pain, not knowing what to do to help her. To be with her without being able to do anything is the antithesis of what a man is hard-wired to do, and to have to surrender, trust, allow and just support in that situation can be incredibly difficult.

Seeing his wife’s beautiful opening stretched to the max as his baby’s head crowns, or watching her being cut open to deliver the baby via Caesarian section, are huge moments in a man’s life, just as much as they are in a woman’s.

No matter how much he loves her, and how much he wants the baby too, there is a knowing that the relationship they once had is changed forever, and there is no longer ‘just the two of us’.

So when the baby is born, he may feel a mixture of excitement, elation, relief that they are both alive and well; and a sense of trepidation, of ‘what’s next?’

What’s next?

This moment in a man’s life is crucial, and to be deeply honoured, as he is.

A man is asked to become a true man, and to let go of his boyish needs – to have his desires met, to be the centre of attention, to do as he pleases, when he pleases. It is an opportunity to go deeper, to expand, to open and embrace this new phase of life, to make life about himself and everyone else, equally so.

But he cannot be forced to do this, or he will get his back up and dig deeper into his old behaviours…into his shed, cave, pub, club, looking for solace with his mates, or even with another woman…

Some tips for how to be with each other

 So here are some tips from a woman who has made all the mistakes in the world when it comes to men, and is now happily married to the most beautiful man, with whom she is more in love with every day…

A man must be appreciated for who he truly is, not just for what he does, and honoured for the quality he brings to everything he does. He must be brought into the new relationship of the woman with her child, and embraced as an equal partner, not excluded from it or treated as somehow lesser.

No, he cannot breastfeed, but he is capable of doing everything else, and if he cannot yet, we can gently and lovingly show him how to, by doing it with him, together. There is no blueprint for having a child; none of us really have a clue and we all just learn as we go…mistakes are part of learning, and why not have some fun along the way?

One of the great beauties of having children is to see that naturally tender, gentle, playful side of a man come out. When he is with his child, he drops his guard, opens up and we see him in all his glory. This is something to be deeply cherished and nurtured, and allowing and supporting him to be his beautiful gentle, tender self is a huge healing for a man, that then helps him to let go of his own hurts from childhood and grow himself up.

Don’t expect life to be the same

Don’t expect life to be the same – it won’t be. Let go, for now, of the things you can no longer do when you have babies and small children, and embrace the beauty and joy that they are and that they bring to your life.

Develop a new rhythm of life that honours the fact that you now have small children.

Don’t try and go to pubs and clubs, or even busy cafes…enjoy entertaining at home, or going on picnics in the park or to the beach, or eating out when and where it is relatively quiet, for if babies and children get over-stimulated, no-one is going to find the outing relaxing or fun.

And whatever you do, don’t do what I did and feed them sugary treats and then expect them to behave! They will promise you whatever you ask, and then be rendered completely unable to deliver it, because of how the sugar affects their sensitive little bodies. They will be completely unable to sit still, keep quiet or behave. It is like giving an adult too much alcohol…kids are out of control once you feed them sugar.

This responsibility as a parent is enormous…we have to be completely honest with ourselves about what we do and how it affects us, for our behaviours are mirrored by our children… they are affected by how we are feeling and behaving, and they will do as we are doing, whatever we may say…“Do as I say, not as I do” does not work, and is a recipe for disaster. We all know how alcohol, caffeine and sugar affect us, and we have to honestly evaluate whether this will then affect our children, and make loving and responsible choices for the whole family, starting with us. The same goes for our reactions and emotions…if we are shut down, angry, frustrated, living self-indulgently, living in disregard of ourselves (and therefore of others), living in a driven way or a given up way…our children feel it all and take it on and will start to behave in those ways too.

This is actually the hardest thing about being a parent, feeling the fact that we are responsible for ourselves and others all of the time. If we stay up late and then are woken early by the kids, we feel the fact that we have made an unloving choice in terms of our bedtime. If we drink and are woken early by a child jumping on us when we are hungover, we feel this too. If we are angry and shout at our partner, our kids are affected and can start acting out angrily too. This is actually true for all of us, whether we have children or not, but we cannot help but feel it when we do! Having children can be a beautiful opportunity to step up and meet this responsibility to life, or one that we can try and shy away from, but we are responsible, nevertheless.

Reconnecting with the child in you

One of the great things about having kids is you get to feel the warm yummy feeling that you had when you were a child, that you may have left behind in the process of ‘growing up’ and trying to fit into and be a ‘success’ in the adult world. You can give yourself permission to have fun, be silly, playful, be openly tender and loving…and to parent in the way you would have loved to be parented.

My greatest tip of all? Go to bed early, when or soon after the kids do. Don’t try and stay up late having ‘adult time’…it doesn’t work. You are probably exhausted. Go to bed and rest. To stay up late, you will need to eat sugar, or salty carbs, or drink coffee or alcohol, or check out with TV or social media or other distractions, which will just take you further out of your rhythm and make it harder for you to sleep when you do finally go to bed.

Just go to bed when you are tired, sleep when you can, and stay in that lovely sleepy energy even if you are woken during the night, and you will wake refreshed in the morning. You may find you wake early enough to have some quiet time alone, or together. You may be able to take turns to go for a walk, or a swim, or to the gym, or whatever it is you love to do that you cannot do with the kids in tow.

Who knows? You may even have the time, space and energy to explore the behaviours that led you to have a baby in the first place, and enjoy each other as a couple again….

And about that, women…

If you want your man to be a man, be a woman first, and a mother second. You were a woman before you were a mother and you still are. Don’t lose your beautiful womanly self in the role of ‘mother’. Nurture and care for yourself as a woman and this will be the greatest gift you can give to your partner and children. We cannot expect our men to be men if we treat them like children…they will feel rejected and retreat into old childish behaviours or look outside of the relationship to be met, if we are not meeting them as equals ourselves. Our role is to embody and live the sacred woman that we are and to behold them in our love.

Some men want their wives to be their mothers, as well as mother their children, but if we play that game and oblige, not surprisingly, they may start looking around at other women, because who wants to have sex with their mother? It is up to us to hold ourselves as women first, mothers second, and to hold our men in our love, inspiring them to be men, not boys. 

Make it about love, first and always

Always remember, you chose to have these children, out of your love for each other. No matter what, always remember that you love each other. Start with that knowing, and if something gets in the way of feeling that love, get on and deal with it, together. For you are bound for life now, by these beautiful babies, and whether you like it or not, you will always have a relationship through them, so why not continue to develop a loving relationship with each other too?

If you cannot deal with your problems together, get support, from family, friends, professionals; anyone who is willing and able to be with you in a caring and loving way, and hopefully can help you see the funny side of things, with no judgement of either of you and without taking sides.

Having children can feel like hard work some days, but it is so worth it. We all deserve to be in loving, caring, joyful relationships, with ourselves, with each other, and with our children, and as parents, it is up to us to develop these relationships and model them for our children to learn from and grow in.

Children are amazing. They can be our greatest teachers. Having them and raising them brings up all our own unresolved hurts from childhood and the past, triggering and exposing them and offering us a chance to deal with these hurts in a different way, so we don’t just pass them on, but look at them, deal with them and heal them, once and for all.

And then we grow and expand ourselves, as our children do, so we all evolve together.

“All a child wants is to be truly met.

This means seeing them for who they are and not

what they need to be for you or for the ideals and

beliefs of this world.

Once this occurs, they know what to do next and

for the rest of their lives.”

Serge Benhayon, Esoteric Teachings & Revelations, p 419

 

Suggested reading: Childbirth: is it lovely?

 


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