A Dad Speaks: Redefining Trust

January 18, 2013  |  

To say I had trust issues by the time I’d met my wife, is putting years of failed relationships pretty mildly. Between infidelity, half-truths and one girl even lying about her ethnicity to – in her mind – seem more appealing to me, I became someone who couldn’t imagine trusting a woman for the rest of my life. On the flip side, I’d also encountered women with major trust issues who questioned my every move, so I was also paranoid about doing anything that appeared sketchy or like it could betray my wife’s trust.

Through time, my wife helped me gain comfort and trust by her transparency, reassuring and insistence that I not be worried she’d be upset by trivial interactions with other women in my life. Hell, even now, she’s more concerned about me looking nice when I go out with the guys than I am. We made a decision a long time ago that third-parties would not affect our relationship and we’ve never had a blow-up revolving around jealousy. For a year of marriage, I truly thought I’d understood what trust was.

Then she got pregnant and trust took on a whole new meaning.

Suddenly I had to trust her with things more important than the sanctity of our marriage. And that was the health of our newborn son. Every day she went to work I had to trust that she was sitting down enough, eating the right food and keeping her stress down. For eight hours every day, I was totally not in control of any aspect of my son’s health. This was incredibly nerve-wracking as I had to bite my tongue and stop myself from handcuffing my wife to the bed (not in that way, weirdos) so I could do everything for her when she got home. For ten months I had to discover new ways to trust the woman I’m spending the rest of my life with.

And by the time we’d worked ourselves into a functioning unit where I could relax a bit, my son was born. But, of course, things took an unexpected turn as he ended up in the hospital for an extra week. While he was there, doctors paraded in every few hours to tell us what could possibly be wrong with him. It was then that I learned just how much of a miracle it is for a child to be born. I learned about low-lying ears, SIDS (DON’T Google it as paralyzing fear will keep you up for the rest of your life), hypoglycemia and any bevy of possible afflictions any child could face when he’s born. It didn’t take long to realize just how much having a child is the biggest walk of faith anyone could ever embark on. Still, faith wasn’t enough. I wanted to control my son’s health and well-being, like I imagine any parent would.

That’s why my wife and I had a huge fight the day my son returned home from the hospital.

While he was being examined and watched over under doctor’s care they made us measure how much he was eating so we’d know he was getting enough nutrients and wouldn’t relapse into a low-sugar episode. I was feeling comfortable knowing exactly how much hew as eating every time. When we got home, my wife wanted to get back to breastfeeding. She spent the first 10 days of our son’s life unable to have that togetherness with him that comes with breastfeeding so she couldn’t wait to enjoy that time with him. It was supposed to be a special moment. My son back at home and healthy. My wife spending quality time with him. The family together and happy.

And I ruined it.

“Are you sure you want to breastfeed him?”

“Of course…”

“I don’t think you should. I mean, how do you know he’s getting enough? We were measuring at the hospital and you don’t now how much he’s getting.”

“I’ll be able to tell.”

“But how are you sure? What if he doesn’t get enough and has low sugar again?! What if we have to rush him back to the hospital?!”

And that’s where the night deteriorated. Yes, I was trying to make sure my son was getting enough food, but bottom line: I didn’t trust my wife enough to give him what he needed to survive and grow. I was in a position where his life was totally in her hands and I couldn’t relinquish that trust to let her do what she was made to do. The limits of my trust were tested and I failed.

Of course, she breastfed him (and continues to to this day) and he grew like a normal baby, even developing a double chin and a chubby tummy after a while. But honestly, I wasn’t ever totally comfortable with it until our first doctor’s visit where we found out he was growing and developing normally.

Back when my wife and I exchanged vows and declared we’d journey on an unending road of trust, I really thought I knew what I was getting into. And for the first chapter of my marriage, we had that trust thing down. But having a child together redefined the notion of trusting your spouse. (Let’s not get it twisted: my wife did her fair share of looking over my shoulder and discount double-checking every time I changed his diaper, too). We’re getting better at it every day. In fact, as I type this, I’m home alone with my son, taking care of him and working as my wife is away at her job. She’s trusting me to handle him ever day. And once we were able to reach that level of comfort, our marriage and family only became closer.

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