A Point of View: The Power of Being Recognized: A Thank You Letter to Black Male Doctors
What’s up, fellas? I hope all has been well with you and your families since we last talked.The baby is doing well and Mom is recovering nicely, and we have had a very solid experience post-delivery up to this point. Not sure how often you receive letters from patients, but I wanted to say thank you and let you know how much I appreciate you and your role played during our journey.
As you know there is nothing less predictable than trying to pinpoint the exact emotions we men will feel when we find out we’re going to be fathers. Me personally, I have heard the words “I’m pregnant” on two separate occasions before the time that eventually caused our paths to cross. Each one has caused me to feel panic, anxiety, and a flat-out sense of fear.
I have spent the past five years guiding fathers in their efforts to realize their own potential, helping them cultivate confidence, bolster belief, and sustain success in their role as parents. I soon realized I needed someone to do that for me.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my wife and the fact that she was overwhelmingly intentional about expressing that she wanted to make me feel valued in the process. But when feelings of uneasiness continued to overtake my thoughts, the both of you were exactly what I needed. You blessed our pregnancy and delivery by simply being who you are: Black men, fathers, and professionals!
Both of you fathers blessed myself, my wife, and our unborn child by becoming health professionals—and deciding that the voice, support, and validation of this Black father was equally as important during this journey. What you did to improve the overall experience of pregnancy and delivery for us is immeasurable and is a testament to the need for true and authentic representation across all fields and endeavors of life.
To Dr. Love:
Thank you for affirming my position as an equal partner in parenting;
Thank you for ensuring that my concerns were acknowledged; furthermore, thank you for taking the time to hear, digest, and address those concerns in a way that felt honest; and
Thank you for your sense of humor and for allowing me the space to have fun with the seriousness of childbirth.
To Dr. Cobb:
Thank you for being an educated voice during delivery;
Thank you for ensuring that Mom and I were at our most comfortable during the process; and most importantly
Thank you for being willing to play Ludacris, Mary J. Blige, and Wu-Tang during delivery.
Gentlemen, even though there is a more concerted effort to include us men in the antenatal and prenatal care stages, the system still has a tendency to overlook the fact that many of us are interested and want to be involved in a genuine way. During the first two pregnancies, I can recall numerous times I felt like an unwanted understudy by the health professionals who couldn’t figure out how, or flat out didn’t care, to treat me as if I was expecting a baby as well.
You are truly appreciated for changing this narrative for me and my family.
An Affirmed Dad
Ryan Bell, Care Resource Coordinator