The Mythical Paternal Instinct

I have a bone to pick with society.

We are a society filled with women screaming for gender equality. Women want to be seen as equals to men in all aspects. We want to be seen as more than baby making factories and taken seriously. I understand this. I agree with this. Women want to be able to be a mom, a physician, an attorney or whatever they want to be. I have no problem with this. But it seems like through all of this a double standard has been created when it comes to birth/parenting.

It seems like women have decided that pregnancy/childbirth/infant parenting is for the mother alone. It’s like a right of passage reserved for only women. Yes, only a woman can give birth, but we shut the door in the faces of men who want to be involved. (No, this is not about my husband being banned from the baby shower. I agree he’d be bored out of his skull once he got there.)  This is about the one too many freakish statements I’ve been told over the last 7 or so months regarding my husband.  I’ve been unsettled too many times during my pregnancy by friends who make statements like,

“I mean it’s nice, but I find it unnerving when a husband is so involved in a pregnancy. It makes me wonder if he has some weird motive…”

“There’s something wrong with a man who is that excited about being a dad.”

Or blanket statements reflecting their own marriages like,

“Be prepared to do everything yourself.”

“Sure your husband says he wants to help now, but just wait until it’s 3am and the baby needs a diaper change. You’ll be the one doing it.”

These kind of statements have been usually followed up with a backtracking statement like,
“But no offense to Justin. I’m not talking about him.”

Really?  Then why did you say it? That’s like when you insult someone and follow it up with “No offense.” If you didn’t mean it as it was said, don’t freakin say it.  Let’s keep our insecurities to ourselves shall we?

When I hear these things, I tend to cock my head to one side in confusion. Why wouldn’t my husband be excited to be a dad? Why wouldn’t he be just as over the moon about this as I am? We both wanted this baby right? We both were devastated by every negative pregnancy test while we were trying right? This wasn’t a one sided thing. If it had been, I would have remained on birth control.

Why is it strange that he’s been to every single scheduled appointment, that he gushes over every tiny article of clothing we’ve been given, or that he touches my belly every day without fail to say hello to his unborn daughter?

Yes, I acknowledge that there are plenty of men out there who don’t take an active role in pregnancy/child rearing but there is nothing wrong with a man who does. It doesn’t make them less masculine. It doesn’t make them strange or unnatural. I don’t know if it’s a hormonal or genetic thing, but that is something to be celebrated not condemned.

Let’s look at from this aspect.  When a woman abandons her child (the way my husbands mother did), she’s a monster.  When a mother hurts her child intentionally or neglects her baby, she’s terrible.  I don’t disagree with this.  But when a father barely involves himself in bonding with his child, or leaves the family for the mother to raise the kid, we all tend to shake our heads but shrug as if it were to be expected.  That phenomenon is strange to me.  Those people have problems.

Whatever happened to paternal instinct?  It’s a real thing.  It’s supposed to happen.  Science says it’s normal.  So why do we brow beat men who are trying to let nature take its course into thinking that they’re less masculine, or weird for doing so?

When it comes to pregnancy everyone immediately flocks to the woman. Yes, that’s where the baby is located, and the mother is going through all of the physical/emotional symptoms, but don’t count out the dad! How nerve wracking it must be for the dad during a pregnancy. He’s completely helpless. He has literally no control over the entire situation. He has to rely on the mother to take care of herself, and wait patiently for close to a year hoping that everything will turn out fine. He doesn’t get to feel the baby moving until much later into the pregnancy, and he has to stand by watching during the birth, hoping that the mother’s body does it’s job getting the baby out alive. At least the mother has some form of control. We make the decisions on what to eat, what vitamins to take, and making sure we tell our doctor if something seems amiss.

I really liked hypedad’s blog post about being an expectant father. Why does society always count out the dad?  Why is it weird for a dad to be so involved.

I don’t even want to ask my friend what she meant about fathers having a “weird motive” when they’re excited about being a dad.  I’m glad she didn’t clarify.  What on Earth could she have meant?  I’ll just go out and say it.  If you think a dad who wants to be involved in his daughter’s life has intentions of a sexual nature, then there is something wrong with YOU, not him.  Has society really twisted our minds that much?  How disgusting.  What other possible weird motive could that statement insinuate?  Sure she backed it up with a “Of course I don’t mean that about Justin.” but still.  Just making that statement alone is insulting in itself.

Or to the other statements.  To automatically assume that he’s going to leave me to do all the work in the middle of the night.  Or that I’ll be the only one feeding her, changing her or snuggling her.  Just because you had an absent husband doesn’t mean that I will.  Maybe there’s something wrong with your man.  Not mine.  I know plenty of friends who have very involved husbands.  Their marriages are healthy and happy.  These men are football loving, beer drinking, video game playing, all American dudes.  So where is the problem?

Justin is excited to hold our baby girl.  He’s excited to have tea parties with her and he’s not afraid to admit it.  He wants her to be smart and love legos the way he did growing up so they can build castles or space ships together.  He wants to send her to science camp, watch her paint with mommy, and see her grow right before our eyes.

If you think there’s something wrong with that, then maybe you have problems.

End rant.

Controlled

Oral contraceptives, or better known as Birth Control Pills, are a topic I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while.

First off, I am NOT a doctor, nor am I a nurse.  I’ve never been to medical school, and  I am not advising you in any way to do anything regarding your health without consulting your physician first.  This post is purely based on observations made by me from my use of oral contraceptives.

Let us start with some honesty.  I’ll start off with how I really feel.

I HATE THEM.  Something I did not realize until a few months ago.

I didn’t used to hate them, and they were necessary for a long time.  I started taking birth control back in 2006.  I had super irregular cycles for the longest time.  Sometimes I’d get one, and then not get one for another three months.  Sometimes two in one month.  Sometimes a six month break.  You get the picture.  Needless to say I was always pretty concerned about having an “oops baby”.  Not that it would have ruined my life, and I find it pretty ironic now given the circumstances.

So fast forward a while to the part where I started having lots of low sided pain.  They misdiagnosed it as a small cysts, and from there I began my birth control journey.

If there’s a kind of oral contraceptive, I’ve probably tried it.  Just to rattle off a few:

Ortho Tri Cyclen
Loestrin 24 FE
Camrese
Yaz
Yasmin
Seasonique

I took so many, and some for only a month at a time.  I’ve forgotten all of their names.  Anyway, back to before birth control.

Any guy that has ever known me can tell you that I’m a relentless flirt.  RELENTLESS.  Anyway, so when I got together with my husband (back then was my boyfriend), he used to complain about my flirtatious ways.  Then one day I suddenly didn’t have that desire anymore.  My flirtatiousness was cut down by more than half.  I was so proud of myself.  I thought, “Wow!  You’ve really matured!  Look at you being a good girlfriend.”

I’d been with Justin for a long while by that time and we can go ahead and cue in the birth control at some point.  I became so docile, and what went from nightly romp sessions, whittled down to maybe one to three times a month.  Libido went down the tubes.  I just decided that it’s something every couple goes through right?  You spend enough time with one person and you just get relaxed right?  It becomes less exciting?….right?

Another strange thing that happened around this time was my anxiety.  I went from having minor anxiety to full blown, can’t leave the house, can’t drive, antisocial, paranoia anxiety.  I also became pretty severely depressed too.  I don’t think I would have made it had it not been for the awesome therapists my college provided.

I can remember asking Justin several times over the years we’ve been together.

“When did I get like this?  I wasn’t like this when you met me.  What happened to me?” I’d ask him, and he’d just shrug.  But nothing significant had happened to me.  I wasn’t raped.  I wasn’t beaten or abused.  No muggings or stalkers.  No car accidents.  Nothing that would make me all freaked out the way I was.

I should have seen the huge red flag the day the gynecologist wanted to put me on this one birth control that required that I take supplement hormone pills to prepare my body for them.  For weeks I cried about EVERYTHING.

I shit you not, I bawled like someone had kicked my puppy at a SUBWAY COMMERCIAL.  Everything I watched, ever song I heard.  I was like a freakin faucet.  But hey, you trust your doctor right?  Eventually my hormones seemed to taper out and the waterworks stopped.

At some point I stopped taking it but when I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2008, I was instructed by my physician to take it full time, back to back.  Literally no periods ever.  Okay great, sure that sounds awesome but think about this.

I took oral contraceptives full time for 5 years.  So from 2008 to 2013 I consumed about 1,825 pills that had the potential to cause blood clots, migraines, heart attack, stroke, and now coincidentally there are multiple articles showing that women who take birth control for longer than 3 years (like me!) are at twice the risk of developing glaucoma.  Good thing I’m going to get my eyes checked soon.

What frightens me most of all, is some of the drastic hormonal side effects I experienced from the drugs.  I was put on Beyaz at some point and spiraled into the darkest depression of my entire life.  I thought at the time that it was because of Justin’s grandmother (whom I love so dearly).  She was amidst a losing battle with dementia and all I could think about was the things we would never get to do together.  I thought she was going to die.  I thought it was devastating me.

It wasn’t until one morning when I had no reason to be sad.  Justin’s grandmother was doing better but I was still sobbing hysterically on my couch at 6:00 am.  I decided that everyone hated me.  That everyone would be better off if I was dead.  That’s when I was smart enough to call my gyno.  I made a pretty frantic call, recognizing the suicidal thoughts and realized that they were not normal.  I’d never been this depressed.  My doctor ordered me off it that instant, and a few days later I was fine.  That to me is truly frightening.  What if I hadn’t been smart enough to call them?  What if I’d lived alone or didn’t have the friends and family to point out to me just how out of character I was acting?  It’s a sobering thought.

Anyway this stuff went on for 5 years.  Recently I had surgery for my Endo and I decided to stop taking the birth control.  For several reasons of course, the first being the only obvious reason for not taking birth control.  🙂

But I also wanted to be hormone free for a while.  Just because.  And within two months I began to feel a drastic change.  I literally felt like I was shedding a skin, and leaving a shell I’d been living in for years.

I was laughing more.  Crying less.  Anxious feelings gone.  And I actually wanted to be romantic with my husband again.  Not to mention I was suddenly attracted to guys in general.  Before, a hot dude would pass me and I would think “eh..”.

What the hell happened?  I may not be a doctor but there are too many coincidences here.  And I’ve heard this story from SO MANY friends recently.  Guy friends telling me that their sex lives are dead.  Suddenly killed off without any explanation, and they’re feeling pretty dejected.  And it’s not that their girls are not attracted to them.  They just don’t ever “feel like it”.  Sound familiar?  And the one thing in common amongst all of them is can you guess?  Recent prolonged use of birth control.

I literally can’t express enough how strongly I feel that birth control is just not right for some women.  I urge you that if this sounds like you, to at least go see your physician about it.  It’s not normal.

I can’t tell you how different I feel except that as cliche as it sounds, that the picture above fits it to a tee.  I was trapped in myself and didn’t know it.  My personality was being suffocated.  It makes me wonder really.  The amount of medications we just take without thinking about it.  The medications you hear for silly things like “dry mouth” or “back pain” or “belly fat”.  Things that are normal, but some drug company has swindled a buck out of you to use their phoney medication chronically.

I wonder what the world will be like when I’m old.  And that wonder is often tainted by worry.

Just some food for thought.  While I hope that no one has had as bad of an experience as mine, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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