With Father’s Day still fresh in our minds, we wanted to share a great new preemie parent focused organization: Papas of Preemies
The word we most often see associated with dads coping with prematurity is strong. Fathers in the NICU and beyond are described as the walls that hold up the world around mothers, babies, and whole families. What we seldom see acknowledged is that dads of preemies may feel just as terrified, overwhelmed, and confused as their partners, but they’re not encouraged to share these emotions.
Joel Brens, founder of Papas of Preemies and the father of preemie Jayden, was struck by the absence of fathers of premature babies and kids in support groups as he and his family navigated the world of prematurity.
“Society has drawn dads as stoic providers who can’t show emotion without looking weak, and I wholeheartedly disagree with this picture,” he said. “But because of it, I didn’t know how or where to express my feelings about parenting a preemie. My response was to create Papas of Preemies – a place where fathers could share stories and see that they’re not alone in what they’re feeling, whether positive or negative.”
“When fathers can talk about everything they’re experiencing in the NICU or after going home, it really is one of the best ways to cope,” he said. “I’ve been amazed at the response from dads who want to share, and that fuels my fire.”
To new fathers of preemies, Joel says don’t be afraid to ask for help and know that you’re not the only dad dealing with the ups and downs of prematurity. It’s okay and natural to feel afraid, and accepting that is important. Taking care of your family will always be on your list of priorities, but make taking care of yourself a part of that.
Remember, dads need support, too! This Father’s Day, we invite you to share Papas of Preemies with the preemie dad in your life or if you’re the father of a preemie, to share your story, concerns, or questions with Joel and the Papas of Preemies community. He can be reached at [email protected] or through the Facebook page.