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Welcome to The Uncensored Empath, a place for us to discuss highly sensitives’ energy, illness, healing, and transformation. My name is Sarah Small and I’m a life and success coach for empaths who want to create a thriving body, business, and life. Think of this podcast as your no-BS guide to navigating life, health, and entrepreneurship. You’ll get straight-to-the-point, totally holistic tips from me in real-time as I navigate this healing and growth journey right beside you. This is a Soulfire production.
Today’s guest is my husband, Andrew St. John. You all heard my birth story from the lens of mother last week and this week I have Andrew on the show with me. We have some listener questions, I have some questions for him, and we’re going to be talking about our birth story and the first eight weeks of parenthood/fatherhood from Andrew’s lens.
Sarah: How are you doing today, babe?
Andrew: Not bad. Good. Good night of sleep last night for her so…
Sarah: Yes, we just had our first full night of sleep. It was a miracle. I actually woke up around 4:30, 4:45 and checked to make sure…
Andrew: Like sheer panic. Is she breathing? Is she breathing? Is she breathing?
Sarah: Is she breathing? Because she’s been waking up between usually 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. every single night and it’s like clockwork until last night. And so, I freaked out a little and my nipples were leaking hardcore by that time because I hadn’t breastfed so… But it was a good night’s sleep. We’re well-rested, baby is sitting right behind us and we’re going to see how this goes today. So, honey, I want to start by asking, how would you describe our birthing experience in three words?
Andrew: From my perspective?
Sarah: From your perspective.
Andrew: The first was… Does it have to be single words or can it be a single phrase?
Sarah: You can answer however you want.
Andrew: First would be, totally out of control.
Andrew: For me.
Sarah: You felt out of control?
Andrew: Yes. It is rare, I guess, in my personal and also professional life where I am completely and totally 100% sidelined and cannot do anything. I mean I could support your head, I could encourage you, but outside of that, I was a total passenger and it was wild. Maybe that speaks more to my personality defects and traits and anything like that.
Sarah: You like to, well, I like to be in control as well. I think we both like a healthy dose of control in our life, but also you’re a fixer. And so, this was something that my body simply had to go through in order to birth our child into the world and there was nothing you could really do to help facilitate that.
Andrew: Take away your pain, anything like that.
Andrew: Yes. That was crazy.
Sarah: So what would be the other way that you would describe?
Andrew: I think second and also very much connected to that is it was terrifying.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. Now some people are going to hear terrifying and they’re going to be like, oh my God, is birth terrifying?
Andrew: No, it was beautiful, which would probably be my third. But it’s terrifying from my perspective, not the process itself. Because I never felt the combination of terror and lack of control like, oh God, everything’s going wrong, you know? But—
Sarah: Right. We had a really quite good birthing experience.
Andrew: Super smooth.
Sarah: But I know what you mean by terrifying. I think the context in which you’re saying it is just that it was so intense.
Andrew: Crazy intense; the most intense thing I’ve ever experienced. But terrifying from the perspective that, in that moment, it is a traumatic physical experience for you and for her. And there are so many things that could go wrong. So I am sitting there looking at you and then surprisingly, I shifted down to look at her when we were able to start to see her. But it was terrifying because I want you to be okay, I want her to be okay. I don’t know what’s happening. Is this all normal? Is this supposed to happen? Is her head supposed to look that way? Are these noises supposed to be coming from you? Is this process supposed to be this long, this slow? And it all plays into lack of control also, but terrifying because I just, the only things, two things I wanted were you and her to be okay. And it’s terrifying because I don’t know. And the medical team was magical and superheroes, but they seemed calm.
Sarah: Oh, they seemed very calm the whole time.
Andrew: I was trying to maintain my mellow.
Sarah: Yes. And I always felt safe and I trusted everything that was happening. And we were certainly both in a land of completely unknown, but even having never obviously experienced that before, I felt like I was just trusting the noises that were coming out of my body and the sens–—
Andrew: I never heard you made those noises before.
Sarah: No. I shared, when I reflected on birth from my perspective, how I just turned really primal. And then I remember leaving the hospital and being like, I didn’t hear any other women giving birth, but you said you did.
Andrew: Yes, when I was out, walking around.
Sarah: Out in the hallways.
Andrew: Yes, stretching my legs and stuff.
Sarah: So that just naturally came over me.
Andrew: Well, everything that our doula, the midwife, and the nurse, everything they said is like, that’s the noise we want. So they are super tuned in and know exactly like, yep, that’s the noise, that’s what we’re looking for. And they would even correct like that’s not the noise that we want. We want you to…
Sarah: Yes. I shared that in my version too, where your body wants to go into these high notes that are a little bit more panicked.
Sarah: Yes. Versus if your realist is saying down and out, down and out, and the more guttural, deeper moan. And I saw so much more progress in my body and in her starting to come out when I went into those deeper tones as well.
Andrew: Yes. I mean, it was animalistic.
Andrew: It’s like the lizard brain taking over, which is awesome. But all of that being said, that’s just territory that is so…
Sarah: Right. Well, it’s like the most natural thing that our bodies are made for, created for. And birth is such a thing in our society that’s kind of behind the veil, behind the curtain that… I mean, we even…I showed you some Instagram clips leading up to our birthing experience. And we took birth class to try to acquaint ourselves with this but you have to really look for those things if you want to watch a birthing video, or we watched a video of a mucus plug being released. And because birth is such behind that curtain, I think that played into what you’ve shared so far around feeling like, especially as a father, like you don’t have control in that moment. And then also that that word terrifying comes up for you and that you’ve never watched a birth before, other than on a video, right? And neither have I.
Andrew: Yes. And even going back to sex ed when, I don’t even know, eighth grade maybe, where we did watch a birth video. But even all of that’s so edited and bland and vanilla, you know? So…
Sarah: Oh yes. Or you see whatever’s in the movies. And the movies are like a whole…They make you terrified of what you see in the movies. You always see this giant gush of water breaking and then screaming and pushing and all of that. And I was certainly making really loud noises, but it wasn’t in panic. It was literally just working with my body to help baby girl out.
Andrew: Yes. And for me, again, from my perspective, I’m used to blood and other things.
Sarah: Gory things.
Andrew: Yes, unfortunately, and it doesn’t affect me. But when it’s my person pushing out my other person and that starts happening, that’s when it’s like whoa.
Sarah: Yes. Well, you mean, not that it’s like you…
Andrew: It’s not like blood and gore.
Andrew: It’s all natural, but there are fluids coming from your body that are not normally seen. And when I deal with that in my day job, every day, it’s like, okay, whatever. But when that type of thing is coming from my person, even though it’s not dangerous, it’s not unsafe, it’s normal, it still heightens that feeling of…I guess, that yes, that feeling of helplessness because that’s where the terror and the lack of control sort of meet. That’s sort of where the two rivers combine as helplessness. That’s how I would describe it. Because I cannot do anything to help whereas in my day job, if I encounter that, I know what I can do to help.
Sarah: So what’s the third way you would describe the birthing experience?
Andrew: Magical, beautiful, mind-blowing. I did not think that I would want to move down and watch her coming out of you. I just thought I’m going to be up there with you. I also, for some reason, had this total disconnect, like, oh, it’s going to be so far away. I don’t know why.
Sarah: That I grew five feet long.
Andrew: Yes, it’s not like your torso is six feet long. That’s just my own ridiculous brain thinking that. But the position you were in actually, you were so in this power curl ball, half side-leg foot up thingy that I could literally be there, I could hold your head, like I was, and then move down and look and watch. And it was crazy…crazy.
Sarah: So it’s interesting that the first two ways you describe it are more of that helplessness if we had to summarize it, but then there’s this duality and polarity that also exists that co-exist of it’s also magical and beautiful and all the other things you just said that really existed at once. And I think the fact that those things co-exist in that moment for us is what makes birth such an intense experience and…
Andrew: And unique.
Sarah: Extremely unique. Yes.
Andrew: I think there are other situations, especially like medical emergencies and stuff like that, can have some of those elements where a life is saved or something. But…
Sarah: Yes, it’s not that it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, but the intensity of those two things at once, I think really does bring some uniqueness to it.
Andrew: Yes. I’ve never…I think kind of the point is that I’ve never experienced that with everything that, again, beating it down, but with everything that I’ve been through with work and everything, is I have never come close to feeling anything like that. And that’s partially because you are my people, but also I think it’s just the nature of this new person emerging into the world. And I mean, let’s be real, birth is beautiful, but it’s not pretty.
Sarah: No. I mean, somebody might argue that it’s pretty, but I would say beautiful’s a better word.
Andrew: Yes. Beautiful has more of a deeper meaning and pretty much, much more the surface-level vanity side of it. It’s not a pretty sight to behold.
Sarah: No. I mean; you saw me poop all over the nurse so that wasn’t pretty.
Andrew: Yes. And some fluids flew onto me. I don’t know what that was. But it’s not pretty, but it is beautiful.
Sarah: Yes, I feel you with that. So if you had to rewind and go back on the timeline to that full day of when my water broke up until we got to meet Emersyn for the first time, I’ve already gone through the very detailed version of that, but I’d love to know what stands out to you during those however many hours, from your perspective?
Andrew: From 2:00 a.m. when your water broke?
Andrew: That moment stands out to me just because, I mean…
Sarah: It’s a funny moment.
Andrew: Yes. It’s comical now. In the moment, I was ready to fight someone breaking into our house because that’s what I thought was happening. But yes, that one reaching over and just slapping me. I don’t know if you hit me in the face or if you hit me in the chest or what.
Sarah: I think I hit you in the chest.
Andrew: But, babe something’s happening, and I go into full fight or flight fight mode.
Andrew: Like someone’s coming in the house. So that was pretty funny. And my adrenaline spiked hardcore, but then it crashed pretty quickly again.
Sarah: It was the middle of the night.
Andrew: It was the middle of the night. Yes. And then from there, it was almost a little surreal just because of what we’re trained to think the process is. We’re used to water breaks, you’re on a gurney being wheeled into the hospital screaming right away. But, you know?
Sarah: That was not the case at all.
Andrew: No, no. We were told, okay, go back to sleep. Okay. I woke up in the morning and I went and got us breakfast from one of our favorite breakfast joints, just because we knew it was going to be a long day so we might as well enjoy it, fuel our bodies. That was cool and unexpected and weird and kind of a nice little…
Sarah: As we know we’re going to have a baby today, but we’re not in the height of it yet. It’s that anticipation that’s really exciting and we’re right on the edge of things kicking up.
Andrew: And this is not so much in the experience between me and you. But I remember when I went to pick up breakfast, I said to the manager who now knows us and knows our order by first name, and I said to her, yes, my wife’s in labor and we’re going to have a baby today. At first, she had this kind of perplexed, like, why are you here? And then I realized, well, yes, she’s in labor, but not labor-labor labor.
Sarah: She’s not having regular contractions. Yes.
Andrew: Yes, water broke. Yes, so that also stuck out. I guess it’s weird stuff like that leading up. And then the other things that really stuck out are when it seemed like we were going to have Emersyn on the bathroom floor because you kind of went from zero to 100 super quick. And I was low-key freaking out, even though I’m used to managing crisis moments, again, passenger because I can’t do anything. I was low-key freaking out and actually getting super frustrated with…
Sarah: Our doula.
Andrew: Yes. But we made it. I remember—
Sarah: Just because she wasn’t here yet.
Andrew: She wasn’t here. And that’s me, you know? That frustration is more my frustration internally.
Sarah: Yes. No, I talked about her a lot in my recap and said how fucking phenomenal she was. But, in that moment, you were like, where is she?
Andrew: Like get here right now. And then I remember thinking, all right, well this is going to happen. And then she did some type of spell and managed to slow everything down for a couple hours. But then I distinctly remember talking about pressure on the rectum. And when the pressure was strong and constant, it was time to go to the hospital. And that actually happened pretty quick too. Because you were like, ah, neh, eh, so-so and then all of a sudden, yep. And then I drove, we drove…
Sarah: You drove.
Andrew: I drove. Yes, but—
Sarah: I was in the car, yes.
Andrew: Alyssa drove in front of us like crazy fast. I mean, it wasn’t recklessly fast, but with intention.
Sarah: No, I don’t remember us going too fast. And I just, like, my eyes were closed the entire, entire time.
Andrew: With intention. I was amazed that you somehow managed to hold off, at least verbalizing, contractions. I don’t know if you—
Sarah: No I didn’t have a contraction in the whole car ride.
Andrew: Right. That’s crazy, with how steady and strong they were…crazy.
Sarah: They were so frequent, yes, and so strong. And side note, but some people like to call them pressure waves versus contractions, but whatever your lingo is, my pressure waves/contractions were very consistent and I was able…yes, my body just…
Andrew: Somehow held it off.
Sarah: Until we got to the birthing center. Yes.
Andrew: And then when we got there and baby is coming. And the person at the front desk, sure, they take our temperature because COVID and everything, masks, but she says, okay, do you have your driver’s license? to me. And she made me check-in. Meanwhile, you’re standing there.
Sarah: Mm-hmm, I sort of remember that…in my robe.
Andrew: I was so…I was like, seriously. I even asked her, I was like, well, do you…? I was probably a little…
Andrew: Hurt, you might say. I even asked her, I was like, well, do you need hers? And she said no or the front desk person, I don’t even remember. But I was probably less than as kind as I should have been in that moment because I was like, we need to get up there. This baby’s about to fall out right here.
Sarah: I think you were in a protective mode and maybe took it out on her a little bit in just that one moment.
Andrew: Papa bear mode but… And then from there, getting into the room, all of that was kind of a blur. I remember distinctly, we were switching sides and I basically just cradled your head, talking to you, trying to encourage you, almost like just whispering to you. And then I remember the moment I first looked down and saw the top of Emersyn’s head. And I didn’t really know, okay, does this mean we’re almost done? Does this mean we are minutes away from meeting her? It was not minutes. It wasn’t crazy long, but… Well, I would say it was minutes because from that moment it was probably 40 minutes of real hardcore, you know?
Andrew: When they said she’s sunny side up, that also kicked off more of my helplessness and that terror feeling of when those streams meet into helplessness. Because I was like, okay, well what does that mean? Is that a complication and they were super chill about it? It just meant you had to work harder than you already were. And then when she really started to come out, crowning, her head looked like Sloth from “The Goonies“. Yes, I’m old. And that was crazy. And then she just kind of [popping sound].
Sarah: Yes, she came all out.
Andrew: Yes. There wasn’t a lot of head, shoulders, waist. It was like, ah, here comes mm. I remember it was like most of her face and then she just kind of, ‘woof’.
Andrew: You know, because they pulled gently to help her out. But it happened super quick and then she was out. And then within minutes, her head started to normalize and I got to clamp the cord.
Sarah: Did you?
Sarah: I don’t even know that.
Andrew: So they said, put it here, so I got to clamp the cord. And then cutting it was also scary because I think I’m hurting her, but…
Andrew: No. And then holding her for the first time. After a while, seeing her in the heater, in the incubator, in the little bubble when they went to wire her just because they put her under a heat lamp. You know, the—
Sarah: While they were doing her stats.
Andrew: That was the first time, because she was naked, that was the first time I really got to see her-see her. Because they popped her in a little blanket thing, they grabbed her and put her on your chest, and then warm her up.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. Yes, she had been on my chest under that blanket, probably several blankets actually, trying to keep her warm. And then…
Andrew: So I just hadn’t gotten to see her body. And I got to see how long and skinny she was and big, huge feet; huge feet, huge hands, and that was it.
Andrew: Yes. I mean there’s more. Holding her for the first time when the nurse says, okay, take your shirt off. And I was like, huh. I haven’t had another woman asked me that or tell me to do that in quite a long time. Yes, crazy. Changing her first diaper.
Sarah: All right. Next question is what was most surprising for you about our birthing experience and then also, she’s eight weeks old now, the day we’re recording this, well she’s a little over eight weeks, but what would you say is most surprising in these first eight weeks as well?
Andrew: I think the most surprising thing for me was how helpless and scared I was. Because here I am thinking, oh, I deal with crazy stuff all the time. And it’s just like, I don’t even get adrenaline spikes anymore from most of that stuff. So that was super surprising. Just how whoa!
Sarah: Helpless you felt.
Andrew: Yes, totally. The other surprising part about it was how crazy smooth it was.
Sarah: Well, you just… No one knows obviously, exactly how their birthing experience is going to go. And we went into it willing to be flexible. No hard set ‘it needs to be a certain way’. And I just feel—
Sarah: Yes, hopeful for sure, and knowing what our preferences were. And I just feel like…I feel so grateful for the birthing experience we did have. Because even though there were moments when you felt helpless and moments when I was obviously feeling intense waves of pain, it was still, like we talked about before, that coexistence and duality of beauty, and really, it went, I think, as smooth as it possibly could go.
Andrew: Yes. I mean, outside of her facing the other way, I don’t think it could have gone any smoother, which is also surprising to me. And I think part of that is because I have some close friends who have had hiccups. Some of them pretty severe and intense, others, kind of standard ‘jaundicy’ stuff so baby had to hang out in an incubator in the NICU for a day or two, you know? Which is not that big of a deal anymore. I think that’s controllable and treatable and…
Sarah: And I think you having heard those stories induced a little bit more panic and fear, whereas at least a lot of women I’ve found in my pregnancy, very consciously avoid anything that is fear-inducing, negative, traumatic so that they don’t go into it feeling all those extra nerves.
Andrew: Yes. I think that’s also a conditioning thing for me from my job is prepare for the worst.
Sarah: Like you want to know what some of the worst-case scenarios could be.
Andrew: Well, and I kind of have to, because that’s how I have to prepare.
Sarah: For your job.
Andrew: Yes. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Andrew: And unfortunately, that’s kind of how my brain works now through that conditioning. And then, the surprising thing eight weeks on is probably related to maybe some questions coming up. But I’ve always looked forward to being a dad, even at times when I was like, ah, I don’t want to have kids, deep down and so like how much I want to be dad and husband. But outside of those two things, nothing else matters to me.
Sarah: Do you remember we did a interview? I think we just did one while I was pregnant and one of the things that you shared during that conversation was nervousness around if you would immediately connect to baby girl when she arrived. And just that, I don’t know if it was fear or just not knowing if you would connect right away. So now after the fact, do you feel like you connected right away?
Andrew: Absolutely. I think ambivalence both maternal and paternal is a very real thing. I mean, I know it’s a real thing. I was worried about it because I also think I have been a little desensitized dealing with stuff. But I think actually what’s happened is the opposite for me, is that I have been so exposed, exposed, exposed that this is so positive and so great, I was mush. I haven’t cried. I mean I cry all the time, right? I’m kind of a weenie. Elephants, rhinos, they make me cry, but that’s not deep in the soul. And I remember when I held her; popped my shirt off and I sat down on a chair and I held her, I cried…like real cry and did almost once or twice a day for the first two weeks of her life.
Sarah: Yes. You just look at her, we just stare at her, and she’s just so beautiful.
Andrew: Yes. And so, I think that fear was legitimate, but totally…
Sarah: Wasn’t the case for you.
Andrew: No. It wasn’t the case in reality.
Sarah: So, favorite part of birth, favorite part of first week of fatherhood? Go.
Andrew: First week?
Sarah: Eight weeks.
Andrew: First eight weeks?
Sarah: First eight weeks.
Andrew: Favorite part of birth was you both getting through it totally okay and seeing and holding her for the first time. Favorite part of eight weeks is the constant change that we see in her. I mean, the first time she held her head up on her own was crazy. Unbelievable. When we got our first good news from the doc that she was gaining weight like a champ, you know? Those are my favorite parts. Just the changes that you see.
Sarah: What would you say you’ve learned over these first eight weeks of fatherhood?
Andrew: In general? Like…?
Sarah: I guess about life or about being—
Andrew: How to change diapers quicker or…?
Sarah: You have gotten quicker at the diapers. But just yes, life and fatherhood, any major learnings that have risen during this period.
Andrew: I think the things that I’ve learned the most are probably very internal. It’s like cutting cords. You know, you have these things you’ve based your personality on, these things you think you are or think you may be that are sort of held aloft within you by these cords. And when she was born and as she has continued to grow and change, some cords were cut, first thing. And then as she grows and changes, those cords continue to be cut. And who I thought I was before, while not completely gone, is very different. And I would imagine that you have probably seen some of that too.
Sarah: It’s like a reorganizing of parts within you to bring to the surface what’s really, truly important.
Andrew: Mm-hmm. Totally. Before I used to think about what do I think is rad? What do I think would be fun to do? What do I think would be great for life? And now it’s, what do I think will be good for her life? What do I think will be good for her as a person and a human and growing? What do I want the lessons for her to be that she can go and effect positive impact on her people, her community, herself, her world? And it makes me reorder, reset and reconfigure what I want and how I prioritize things.
Sarah: So how would you say that your identity has shifted in that reorganizing process? Obviously, priorities have shifted, but do you feel like anything other than the title of father, dad now? Anything else has shifted within you on a core level?
Andrew: Yes. I think that title of father/dad, I think that’s what does it, but that’s hard to describe really? I think that really just sort of puts a cap on all of these changes, you know? Because I don’t think of myself as Andrew, you know? I do my job, I come home, I’m hanging out with my wife. We try to do fun things and build a life. Now it’s much more, I want to start from the base level from the ground floor and build up.
Sarah: And we’ve been talking a lot about how we are craving even more simplicity. I mean, I went through it with my whole nesting, get rid of shit, reorganize drawers and stuff while I was pregnant. But now postpartum and these first eight weeks, it’s not even just getting rid of stuff for more organization and simplicity. It’s craving a simpler life as a whole as well.
Andrew: Yes. I think the analogy there can be, we carry bags on our back that we don’t even realize until you have this monumental shift. And we have experienced, unfortunately, and now fortunately, you know? Unfortunately, with your brothers, those are monumental shifts. And with each of those, there has been a lot of priority shifting and introspection. Now, fortunately, with her, the same thing is happening, but almost more so. And I feel like the direction is changing. Before, it was almost like a minor adjustment to the direction a little bit.
Sarah: Well, and we each changed in different ways due to loss of my brothers, but each of those big moments in our life has then affected who we are, how we be, and I think shifted the trajectory of our lives from that day forward.
Andrew: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Sarah: So, you know, grief has been that pivot point, and then now parenthood is another pivot point.
Andrew: Yes. And I guess the difference from my perspective within that is it feels like, with your brothers, there was some individual change that happened. But now with her, I feel like it’s almost a joint like you and me together are changing…
Sarah: As a unit.
Andrew: As a unit, as opposed to… I mean, even though we weren’t married when Jordan died and we were kind of in a weird spot in our relationship, it had monumental impact on you and it changed me too. Also because I knew Jordan.
Andrew: But we were married when Joe died. And again, I think it had individual impacts, but I do think it had some joint impact also because we were in a much deeper place in our relationship. But now this with Emersyn, I feel it’s almost like a full, the-pendulum-is-swinging-the-other-way-together type change.
Sarah: We’ve got a few exciting things churning in the background.
Andrew: Yes. Fingers crossed.
Sarah: That maybe we’ll tell everyone about on another episode.
Andrew: Yes. Once we… Well, and maybe…yes.
Sarah: It’s a secret for now.
Andrew: Yes, we can’t tell yet.
Andrew: Fingers crossed though.
Hello, podcast fan, just popping in for a second because in this postpartum period, now that my daughter Emersyn is officially one month old today, it has flown by and yet been such a blur. And breastfeeding is hard work. I have a whole newfound respect for how much you need to supplement and hydrate and give your body the nutrients that it needs in order to be breastfeeding. So, one thing that has been supporting me so much is having my container of electrolytes next to me, pretty much all day long. I, as you guys have heard me talk about before, I’m a huge fan of LMNT Electrolytes. They are salty and delicious, and there are some amazing flavors. My current favorite is their new flavor Watermelon, but I also love the Raspberry, the Citrus, the Orange; they’re all really good.
And electrolytes are charged minerals that conduct electricity to power our nervous system. And mine has felt a little bit fried lately because we are not sleeping through the night. We are getting max about three hours of sleep at any given time. So regulating my hydration as well as my husband’s and balancing fluids inside and outside of myself has been so supportive. Literally feels lifesaving. And as a Uncensored Empath podcast listener, you get to try these amazing electrolytes for free, you just pay $5 in shipping. You get a free sample pack. Simply go to drinklmnt.com/empath to try it out. Again, that’s drinklmnt.com/empath. And I’d love for you to let me know what your favorite flavor is and tag me over on Instagram.
Sarah: So we have a couple listener questions before we wrap up here. And the first one is, how does it feel to watch and not be able to help much and then also, watching your significant other, (that’s me), grow into motherhood?
Andrew: I think the first part of that question, we’ve kind of talked a lot about. It was hard. It was challenging.
Sarah: So I want to say that even though you, your body does not have the capacity [Emersyn coughs] (there she is in the background), the capacity to feed her the way I can and sometimes comfort her the way that I can, I do think that you’ve found ways in which you can still comfort her in a different way. And you can still be very helpful in changing her diapers and just fatherhood in general.
Andrew: I think the second part of that question, watching Sarah grow into mom, has been really cool and really wild. Because I think, at least from this outside perspective, it doesn’t feel like there’s been any maternal ambivalence whatsoever. It feels like ‘Em J.’ came and she just sort of melded into you and you becoming mom. I think you are a phenomenal mom and it has been a joy to watch as you have grown into that even more. Because it does get a little more complicated with each passing week. It goes from eat, poop, sleep, eat, poop, sleep to now we can engage with her, you know? And watching you do that is awesome and has made me cry. For the first part of, how does it feel to watch? It’s like being a passenger in many ways and then, you know, to watch Sarah grow into the great mom that she has become.
Sarah: All right, last question. What’s the hardest part of being a father and the most rewarding aspect?
Andrew: I struggled for the first…well, until we introduced a bottle that first time, because I am a fixer by nature. I want to help, I want to take away pain, I want to sooth, and when I can’t provide sustenance to her when she is very, very little…because ultimately when they’re that little, they rarely cry just because they’re uncomfortable. It’s usually because I’m hungry and I want to eat. And I can’t do anything about that. And it’s doubly hard for me because it puts extra pressure on you because I can’t do anything. And I view it as, well, I’m not pulling my weight and this is my own baggage, you know? I’m not doing enough. I’m not being a good husband; I’m not being a good dad. And that’s just that critical self-talk that comes about with it. So that was the hardest part for sure. The most rewarding part has been contributing to her now that she is growing and changing. And you know, I hate being away from you and from her while I work. I hate it. I don’t use that word that much, but I hate it. That’s super hard now that she’s older, but it’s also super rewarding to just be here with you and with her and watch her change and grow.
Sarah: Yes. We’re in the fun phase now where she’s sort of learning how to stick out her tongue and she’s starting to, well, she has been cooing and finding her voice and finding her hands and she can focus.
Andrew: She’s smiling in reaction to things now. Before it would just be kind of a random, whatever is happening in her brain, but now she’s responding with a smile. She hasn’t laughed yet, but…
Sarah: Not yet.
Andrew: It’s close.
Sarah: She’s close.
Andrew: I thought she was going to do it the other day, but…
Sarah: She’s definitely smiling and yes, just focusing more on our faces and tracking us when we walk by and just more engagement there. So then therefore you can engage with her more and I think, connect to her. I mean, every day I feel like we both just are building this relationship with her deeper and deeper and deeper and getting to know each other more and more and more.
Andrew: Mm-hmm. Because she’s becoming more of a person instead of this eat, poop, sleep, eat, poop, sleep, you know? She is definitely starting to develop into a person and it’s awesome. So…
Sarah: Yes. And we’re just going to be able to continue to witness that as she continues to grow. I can’t believe she stayed quiet this entire time.
Andrew: She looks like she might be getting…
Andrew: Borderline frown. Hard to tell from here.
Sarah: All right, honey. Well, thank you so much.
Andrew: Do you have final thoughts? Because we got to do final thoughts.
Sarah: Okay. Well, you share your final thoughts first.
Andrew: My final thoughts: Pregnancy was challenging. Pregnancy was challenging.
Sarah: For you or for me?
Andrew: Both. Because again, I want to take away pain. Like the first trimester, you felt like garbage. Second, was pretty chill. Third, you started to feel like garbage again. And again, that’s one of those things where I felt like a passenger. But beyond all that, I think it’s important to talk about moms and dads within this because let’s now be real, patriarchy is real. I am part of that. But I guess through a lot of this, I have realized the importance of relationship between mom and dad in order to have healthy relationship with baby and family. And yes, I don’t know, more episodes.
Sarah: Okay. My final thoughts are more of an observation mirroring back to you how I’ve been able to see you change and evolve and step into your role as a dad and fatherhood, which has been, I don’t know, just really special. It’s been really cool to watch you. I think I knew from the beginning that that was a role that you always wanted to play in your life and one that would come naturally to you. But now here we are and I’m actually witnessing and I just think it’s really powerful and really special. And I think that Emersyn, our little ‘Em J.’, is very lucky to have you as a father and I can’t wait to see what comes next for all of us.
Andrew: Now I’m trying not to cry. I’m excited too.
Sarah: All right. I love you. Thanks for coming on and chatting with me.
Andrew: Love you too. Thank you for having me.
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July 19, 2021