I began writing this blog, because I realized there is a severe shortage of blogs, books, etc. available from the husbands' perspective. There are nearly as many men struggling with these types of losses as there are women. Yet, you'll find that most men do not want to talk about their pain. Most of us men internalize our struggles. Furthermore, when confronted about this struggle to share emotions, almost all of us will deny that this is ever a problem! When Emily and I first got the news, I didn't know how to handle it (in many ways, I still don't). My initial thought was to bottle up my emotions and "be strong"..."you're a man...suck it up!!" But this is definitely not healthy. And not what it means to be "bold, courageous, brave, etc." One of the most difficult realizations for me is knowing that, even though I am writing this blog primarily for other fathers who are going through similar pain and tragedy, I know that I will receive the least amount of feedback and encouragement from men. Nonetheless, I keep writing so that someone, whomever it may be, may find solace and compassion from my journey through anencephaly.
What does it mean to be a man anyway? Slanted media, misplaced stereotypes, beer commercials, "man laws"...all of these false pretenses create barriers for men to actually be themselves. Questions that I often find myself asking include the following:
-"Why do I feel obligated to bottle up my emotions?"
-"Will I be less of a man if I share my true emotions instead?"
-"Is it ever manly to wear pink??"
-"Is it okay to cry?"
-"If I do cry, will I lose my "man card"?"
-"If I don't cry, does this make me insensitive or an uncaring husband?"
-"Why is it unmanly to drink frou-frou coffee?"
-"What? I can't even say frou-frou now?"
So...as I have mentioned in a few of my other blog posts, I am breaking all kinds of "man laws." I don't care what the stereotypes are anymore. I was recently told by 4 medical professionals that my daughter will die shortly after her arrival into this world. Right now, "man laws" mean nothing to me. And who cares if I like to order an extra-whipped cream, grande, double chocolate, mocha frappuccino? I have been known to wear pink...not often, but it happens. And crying...yes. After the last two weeks, I feel like I should own stock options in the Kleenex brand. But know this: I am still a man - no question about that. I am rock solid in my beliefs. I stand strong beside my wife. I am confident in my abilities at my work. I faithfully support my community and my church. This is what it means to be man.
And in case you're still wondering, you can take my man card...in fact, you can take everything I own...all I want is my little Caroline.