New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy missed the season's first two games to be with his wife during the birth of their first child earlier this week. Everyone was really happy, right? Well...no. A couple of radio talk show hosts in New York criticized Murphy's decision. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason said, "Quite frankly I would've said 'C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day. I'm sorry, this is what makes our money, this is how we're going to live our life, this is going to give our child every opportunity to be a success in life. I'll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I'm a baseball player,'"
Full disclosure. My wife and I have five children. I have been present at the birth of each of our children. And also, I must reveal that my wife is a Neo-Natal Nurse Practitioner. So, maybe we know a bit more about the dangers that can occur during a routine delivery. In fact, there's no such thing as a "normal delivery." After our first two children were born and there were no complications, I began to reason, "How hard can this be? We've got this down pretty well." Then our third child, Evan, was born. It was a difficult labor. Phrases like "failure to progress" and "breech" were being thrown around. After I saw my wife's limp leg flop over the side of the delivery table I excused myself from the proceedings and quietly slipped out into the hall of the Baylor Hospital in downtown Dallas, Texas praying, "Please, Lord, help us have a healthy delivery." I was desperate. Everything was moving in slow motion. A couple of neo-natal doctors appeared in the room to assist.
After experiencing that event, I can't imagine encouraging a dad to be anywhere else except by his wife's side during the birth of their child. I don't care if the dad is a CEO, a Hollywood actor, or the best player on a Major League Baseball team. You will never get that moment in time back.
Another sports talk host spouted, ""To me, and this is just my sensibility, assuming the birth went well, assuming your wife is fine, assuming the baby is fine — 24 hours, you stay there, baby is good, you have a good support system for the mom and the baby, you get your ass back to your team and you play baseball," Craig Carton said. Can you hear all of the assumptions in that lame prediction? Assuming the birth goes well? Assuming the baby is fine? Assuming your wife is fine? Hey, buddy, moms can die during childbirth! Not all babies make it through the grueling delivery process! Dude, not all births go well!
Another radio sports blowhard, Mike Francesa bloated, "I don't know why you need three days off, I'm going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you're a Major League Baseball player. I'm sorry, but you do … Your wife doesn't need your help the first couple days, you know that," Francesa opined. What time does Francesa get off the air and go back to his cave?
Another disclosure. As I mentioned we have five kids...and I have also written five books. The one book that my wife helped me write, Congratulations, You're Gonna Be a Dad! is actually the book that has sold the most copies. (And yes, she lovingly reminds me of this fact from time to time.) In this book we encourage new dads to be fully present in the days leading up to and surrounding the birth of their first child. Family experts agree incredible bonding and emotional imprinting takes place in the first few hours and days after delivery. Experts tell us newborns can actually recognize subtle differences in factors such as touch, smells, and voice patterns. Again, these are moments that a new dad will never get back. Of course we realize there are some circumstances, such as military service, that cannot be avoided. But...golfing, a business trip, or a baseball game? Come on!
And so, in the midst of this current cultural firestorm over paternity leave, dads being present at the birth of their children, and sports talk radio hosts spouting misogynistic nonsense...Dynamic Dads honors NY Mets second-baseman Daniel Murphy for skipping three days of Major League Baseball work to be present at the birth of his first child. Way to go, Murph! (By the way...real men help change diapers too.)