I wasn’t going to write about this, really, but then my friend Tom caught me on gmail chat today and happened to ask:
Tom: “i have to ask you because you’re YOU and i’m ME… do you feel different at this point?”
Me: “physically, mentally, emotionally, or all of the above?”
Tom: “emotionally/mentally/Lion King/Circle Of Life, etc”
I answered him by saying that I had this realization last week while in the midst of doing something utterly mundane, like washing dishes, that at no other time in my life before now would it have been right to have a baby. That last week, suddenly, I realized I felt totally, 100% okay–no…. way, way more than okay–about having a baby, and that I hadn’t really told anyone that.
But, I continued, that didn’t mean that I don’t have occasional, full-fledged interior psychic meltdowns.
Francisco and I were listening to Leonard Lopate on the radio, something we should really stop doing for our own sanity. And Lopate was interviewing Michael Lewis, a father who recently published a book about his parenting experiences. Lewis, in turn, was telling Lopate what a horrible father he can be. And how his wife’s post-partum panic disorder terrified him. He described how they were lying in bed shortly after one of their kids was born, and she suddenly rolled over, dug her fingernails into the softest part of his arm, and said something to the effect of, “I think I’m going to go off the deep end and I can’t have you away from me for one single second or I will go to pieces.”
I’ll admit that deep inside myself I was simultaneously fascinated (intellectually) and horrified (personally) that post-partum panic disorder exists. I looked at Francisco whose eyes, for just one second, flashed a look of absolute terror.
He didn’t say anything. As Tom pointed out, “he’s the best husband besides my future husband.”
But in that moment, I think I really began to understand that hubbies have their own experiences of pregnancy– their own joys, their own physical changes, their own moments of “Holy shit” terror–and that their experiences are just as personal and, often, verbally inexpressible, as women’s.
“The thing is,” Tom said, “he’d deal. he’s just that guy. he’s built for the long haul. and he would either snap you out of it or wait. i can see that in his eyes.”
I hope he’d never have to, but I know Tom is right.
Ay, mi Francisco, como te amo.