For my husband on Father’s Day
Without my husband by my side during our first three years of parenthood, I have no idea where I’d be. It’s time I said thank you. For so many things.
For understanding my body was going a little crazy in pregnancy.
For always being on hand to nip out for Gaviscon. For not minding being asked to pop out of the office to buy constipation remedies. For sleeping in the spare room or on the sofa during the last days of pregnancy because I couldn’t get comfortable. For comforting me when I cried about silly things because my hormones were going mad.
For asking the questions I hadn’t thought of during appointments with the midwife. For listening to accounts of my crazy pregnancy dreams and not laughing (much). For understanding my immediate need for a Slush Puppie.
For being a brilliant birthing partner.
You always understood my fear of labour, and you did everything you could to alleviate that. You had just the right level of humour and care to get me through childbirth. Thank you for not fainting at the sight of blood (even when it splattered across the midwife’s face). You were always as involved as you could be from the off. You whipped off your top and had skin to skin with our babies both times as quick as I did. You listened as intently as me when the midwives explained how to change a nappy. You helped and adjusted the baby on my breast as we tried to get the right latch. You stayed in the hospital with me as long as you possibly could, till the midwifes eventually kicked you out. And when you left we both cried.
For doing all you could to make breastfeeding better for me.
Breastfeeding didn’t work out for me. You knew this broke my heart. You researched. You did everything possible to try and make it better. But ultimately, you made me realise I could still be a brilliant mum and that it was OK. You recognised my guilt and pain and you made me realise that in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t important. I could see how cross you were that I’d gone through this and no one had prepared us for the possibility.
For reassuring me when we fell pregnant again so soon.
When we discovered we were going to have another baby – when our first was just three months old – you were as scared as I was, but your first words were: “It’s going to be OK Sal; it will be fine”. I knew I had your 100 per cent support and it made everything OK. We would cope and we would love those babies. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
Your ability to cope under severe sleep-deprivation still astounds me…
For your night-time brilliance with our babies.
Possibly the one thing I can’t thank you for enough for is your night-time deeds with our babies. You have jiggled, paced, cuddled, swung, held and comforted those babies at every hour of the night. For hours and hours and hours. Just imagine how many hours we’ve clocked up pacing the floor with babies? Oh my goodness. And yes, we complained. My god we complained to each other. But you NEVER suggested I should do more because I wasn’t technically “working” or because I’m their mum. Not once. You are the most patient man alive. When I felt I was going INSANE, pacing the carpet with those babies you were gentle and calm. I still have no idea how you did it. Our girls still call for us both in the night. For a long time you were the only one that could comfort our darling Ruby. That’s because you were always there for her. Your ability to cope under severe sleep-deprivation still astounds me. I will never be able to thank you enough!
For making me believe I can be whatever I want to be, and having the same attitude with our girls.
My husband the feminist. You are the one that pushed me when I said I wanted to start my own business. You are the one that encouraged me to go for it. And do you know what? Our girls see that. They already see that. And they know you feel the same about them. You encourage them to do everything they show an interest in. You will happily get your nails painted by them, and buy them toy trucks and lorries too. You are determined that their gender will not define them. I am so proud of your attitude and I am so happy that they have such a beautiful and kind, but quietly fierce and ambitious soul as their role model.
For being my rock during PND.
You knew I was falling apart at the seams even when I couldn’t see if myself. You knew that, and had to cope with that, whilst having to deal with work and two non-sleeping babies as well. You remained calm. You comforted me. When you saw me going to dangerous places, doing crazy things like screaming into pillows, you never once made me feel like I was mad. You gently persuaded me that we needed to seek help. Always “we”, never “you”. You comforted me and reassured me. You made me realise I was still a good mum. It scares me to think of what would have happened without you. I was close to becoming really poorly, and without you, I would have been. You helped cure me.
For loving the kids completely and entirely, and for loving me too.
You have loved me through everything. Through spinal blocks and the first poo after labour, and the breast pumps and the crying, the sitting on doughnut cushions, the ringing of 111 at 4am, the breaking down at the doctors, the tears and stress of blood tests and the “I’m a crap mum, I cannot do this”. The hysterical laughter at 2am when they’re both up AGAIN. The desperation of: “let’s drive her in the car and see if that makes her sleep”. The boiling hot summers of jiggling babies to sleep. The books on “how to get a baby to sleep”. The hand, foot and mouth. The slapped cheek. The chicken pox in pregnancy. The going to work on the train after literally 40 minutes’ sleep. The punching of the walls and the near loss of your wife’s sanity.
Through all of that (and so much more) you have loved me. And I’m so very very grateful. I didn’t think it was possible to love you more than I did when I married you. I was wrong. Happy Father’s Day, Paul Edward Bunkham.
Sally Bunkham is the founder of mumsback.com, a UK company that provides gifts for new mums “full of all the yummy things they’ve not been allowed whilst pregnant”. Sally also raises awareness of postnatal depression via her blogs, articles and talks. Mum’s Back supports PANDAS Foundation, who help families going through perinatal mental health issues. This article has been republished with permission. Follow Mum’s Back on Twitter and Facebook.