Last week my second daughter was born two and a half weeks early. I’m not a fan of early birds. They don’t get the worm; early birds get angry neighbors yelling they’re trying to sleep. Here’s a fun aside. With my first daughter, she was born at the perfect time that allowed me to announce on April Fools that her name was Merple. People responded with comments about how cute she was and avoided any discussion of her name until a day later when I said her name was Gracie, and then they said thank goodness. This time I posted my new daughter’s name was Tudy Trudy Tomlinson, triple T because she’s a triple threat, and people seemed to believe me. At first I thought that was hilarious – gotcha – but then I realized, what does that say about me? Do people think I’m the kind of guy who would name their daughter Tudy Trudy Tomlinson, the triple threat? I must have done something wrong with my life – Seriously, Tudy, so she’d get called Tooty Tudy? Or is Tudy Trudy a good name and I’m that out of it I don’t realize it? Regardless, all this means is ultimately the joke’s on me – well done everyone who spun this back on me.
Gracie was born by an emergency c-section, which taught me that having an emergency c-section is very traumatic for a new mom, especially when she’d been pushing for a couple hours. It took my wife (and two friends in a similar position) four days to get past the initial trauma and then several more weeks to be where a normal woman who gave birth would be, which was largely affected by the physical pain of having your stomach sliced open and put back together. Oddly enough, Gracie was born like an alien and she looked like an alien bug. Fortunately, her conversion has gone really well and she couldn’t be any more adorable. This lesson on c-sections was important for me to learn in order to improve my understanding and empathy for others, which I’m now sharing to pass on the lesson – a bonus lesson for today.
Tudy Trudy’s real name is Lucy, a name, whether you like it or not, is way better than Tudy Trudy. My mother-in-law prefers Lacy, so I guess she wants her to be a stripper. When you’ve had one c-section, after two years you can try for a normal birth, so my wife wasn’t sure if she should until she was told by the surgeon she had a 30% chance of success with a higher risk of one or both of them dying. Not the toughest decision for us to make. The surgery was scheduled for April 30, a week before she was officially due. It was amazing having a scheduled time and my wife was supposed to walk in without any contractions and walk out a day or two later with a baby – easy. Unfortunately, my wife and I have a history of having things go wrong when they should be easy – our three floods in the basement last summer is a good example of that. Eight days before the scheduled surgery and fifteen days before the due date, my wife had contractions in the middle of the night. She got up in case they were real, but I brushed them off as false and went back to bed. Guess who was wrong? When I got up two hours later, it was confirmed they were real and we had to go to the hospital. I had what you’d expect in that moment – overwhelming joy… or should have had overwhelming joy. Instead, I was furious. I didn’t say anything to my wife because she was also angry and every couple minutes she was angry and in a lot of pain. On our way to the hospital we were both in the car just fuming. I was thinking, “This is not the plan! I had so many things I had scheduled to do this week. This is so unfair!” You know, like a good father should be thinking. Meanwhile my wife was fuming because “Ow, ow, this is terrible pain; please make it stop!” She had a much better reason to be angry. She was supposed to have a contraction free birth, but instead was told at the hospital that she was too far along for an epidural – the good drugs – and couldn’t have anything until the surgery, which was being held off until the current surgery being done was finished. Fortunately, after a couple hours, she was in and out of surgery, and the nurse of thirty years told us she had secretly been prepping for a natural birth because she didn’t think my wife was going to get into surgery in time. She was trying not to scare my wife, but she was about 10-20 minutes before the point of having to push to get the baby out (the 30% chance of success situation). Fortunately, we were spared that situation and possible life or death c-section situation, and it also explained why my wife had been in so much pain.
So here’s the important take away, both my wife and I had negative emotions for a situation that should’ve been exciting and that’s okay. We were both allowed to feel what we needed to feel. We needed to not “fix” each others’ emotions or feel bad for them. I was allowed to be angry, to feel it, to deal with it on my own and not hurt anyone, and then let it go. That’s the great thing about allowing ourselves to feel the emotion; after we feel it and accept it, it’s likely going to pass. It’s like breathing; we let the feeling in and then let it out. It’s when we deny our feelings or get told we’re wrong for them that feelings stick around longer than they should; it’s like we forget to breathe out – bad things happen when we do that. The same happens with people having a panic attack. We want to let them feel the fear; we tell them it makes sense they’re scared and affirm them so they don’t feel crazy, and ideally we get them doing something physical to get rid of some of the energy building up like push ups or jumping jacks. If you’re really lucky, having something for them to punch or to have safe things to break are the best for dealing with the fear and preventing a full on panic attack.
Letting people have their emotions is like letting my wife scream in pain before the birth. She needed to feel it and let out the emotion. If I was beside her telling her to hush, I’d be a serious jerk, just like someone telling another person not to have their emotion. People most likely guilty of this are husbands to wives and moms to daughters. We think we’re being helpful by saying things like calm down when really we’re making it worse. We need to let people have their emotion no matter how dumb or triggering it can be for us. If they’re embarrassing themselves in a public place, we should try to get them some privacy, but ultimately, they need to get out their emotions in a safe way.
This week may you consider what it means to let people including yourself have your emotions.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)