Real men don’t leave their wives right after birth

News broke recently that Daniel Murphy, second baseman for the New York Mets, recently took two days off for paternity leave, causing him to miss Major League Baseball’s opening day and the season’s second game to be with his wife and child.

Mike Francesa, a popular New York sports radio personality, devoted about 20 minutes of his Wednesday broadcast on WFAN to a rant against paternity leave. According to him, a Major League Baseball player should hire a nurse to take care of the newborn. He went on to say there is nothing for a dad to do at first but look at your wife. He minimized postpartum depression. He basically said having a baby and taking care of a baby is the wife’s (or a hired nurse’s) responsibility. In short, Francesa thinks dad needs to go and be the breadwinner—maybe he can give a bottle at night. His implication was that if you’re rich, you just need to employ someone else to take care of your kids. In order to keep up this arrangement, the man should go to work.

Nothing to do but look at your wife? Mike, how about spending some time bonding with your newest family member and supporting your wife who delivered your child? Childbirth isn’t a 30-minute event that ends after the umbilical cord is cut. Even the most uncomplicated delivery is not a bed of roses. Have you ever changed a diaper? Rocked a baby to sleep? Having a newborn is scary, especially for a first-time parent. Francesa said, “I mean, what would you possibly be doing? I guarantee you’re not sitting there holding your wife’s hand.” Mike, if you know what’s best, you better be holding your wife’s hand!

Boomer Esiason, former NFL quarterback, says that he would have asked his wife to have a Caesarean section before the season started to avoid a conflict. Ouch! Talk about a slap in the face to all women who have ever had a C-section. What a demeaning request. Esiason said baseball is what make Murphy’s money and provides for his family, so it should be prioritized. Boomer, it’s not about the money! Did you forget he makes a salary and stands to lose no money from taking paternity leave?

Each Major League Baseball team plays 162 games. By missing the first two games of the season, Daniel Murphy will miss 1.2 percent of the season to be with his wife and his firstborn baby boy named Noah. Note that Daniel Murphy played all but one game last season, logging 697 plate appearances to rank sixth in the league.

I love sports. I follow fantasy football news nearly every day from July to January. I am a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan. I watch their games as much as I can on television. I am a big University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball fan. But I love my wife and I love my baby more than I love sports. There is no way I would have missed being there for both of them in the first couple of days after delivery. I mean, we’re talking about opening day and one other game … there isn’t even a playoff race in sight for months.

Real men don’t leave their wives right after birth. They stick around, change diapers, hold a crying baby, support their partner, and find out what it’s really like to be a dad. If you get paternity leave (and you can afford it), you should use it. I took two weeks off and I don’t regret it for a second. Kudos to you, Daniel Murphy! I hope you have the best year of your career and your team makes the playoffs. I will cheer for you, just as long as you’re not playing the Cardinals.

Justin Morgan is a pediatrician who blogs at Bundoo, where this article originally appeared.

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  • Patient Kit

    Oh boy. Consider the sources. Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason are idiots — at least, on this subject. I agree with every word you said, both as a woman and as a passionate Yankees fan.

  • weakanddizzy

    “Real men don’t leave their wives right after birth”. Easy to say if you have paternity leave. I was there for my wife with our first child. By the time our second was on the way I was self employed. When my wife went into labor I cancelled my am appointments. She delivered at about 8:00 am. I stayed until noon. My mother, mother in law, father in law and her sister were there. I went back to work in the afternoon and saw patients because someone had to pay the hospital bill ( being self employed I have a very high deductible plan). I would have loved to spend the entire day but sometimes ” Real men just have to do what they need to do to take care of their families”.

    • Patient Kit

      Agreed that many men don’t have the option. But Dr Morgan, Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason were talking about a specific man who most certainly did have that option — and who, to his credit, used it, which hurt nobody.

      Are you saying that you are a doctor who can’t afford a good health insurance plan for your family? If so, my uphill battle to get one myself looks steeper and steeper. :-(

    • Suzi Q 38

      True. I commend you for being fiscally responsible.

      The bills have to get paid, but not necessarily on the first few days. Patients understand, especially if it is your own baby’s birth that you attended. I say take several days off.
      There are other ways to save for this special time…work extra time before the birth.

  • guest

    Snort. Neanderthals giving their opinions about childbirth and family? Sorry if I struggle to contain my laughter.

    • Patient Kit

      Don’t try to contain it. Laughter is good medicine. :-D

    • Suzi Q 38

      Fun. Neanderthals are lovable, too.
      Sometimes, I can’t believe they just said that.
      As if the man is not needed after the birth.
      I guess it is a matter of opinion.

      • guest

        Boomer’s had one too many concussions!!

  • guest

    At the risk of sounding a bit Neanderthalish myself, a two-day old baby doesn’t really do very much in those first 48 hours; there is certainly not critical bonding that will be missed. And certainly someone in Daniel Murphy’s position is going to have a baby nurse at home supporting his wife whether he is there or not (it’s what’s done in New York) so I can sort of understand people thinking it lame of him to miss one of the most important games of the season in a sport he is being extremely well paid to play.

    • guest

      Missing opening day and the second day? We’re not talking about games in the world series. Face it, dad is there for the mom and himself, not the baby. As you pointed out, the baby is not going to notice or care who is there as long as basic needs are met.
      So I give props to Daniel Murphy for acknowledging that this is a significant time in HIS life, significant enough for him to take some time off work.
      Oh, and hello doppleganger!

      • Patient Kit

        I’m not sure which guest you are, but I agree with you on this. The first two days of a long season are nowhere near the most important days of the season. I think Daniel Murphy had his priorities in good order when he chose to take the time to bond with his wife and newborn child during a life changing time. And in a world full of far too many absent fathers, he sets a good example about what is important to all the boys and men who look up to him because he’s a pro athlete.

        • guest

          I’m the anesthesiologist. Not sure what specialties the other “guests” are in.

          • Patient Kit

            Ah, thanks. Are you the same guest who has made a passionate case here against certain childhood vaccination?

          • guest

            No…I guess that was my twin. I got involved in the discussion about capital punishment but I haven’t discussed vaccines here in a while.

          • Patient Kit

            Thanks for sort of clarifying. I would not like sharing the same name with other posters who post strong opinions about controversial issues, even if I agreed with them about everything but especially if I don’t. I can’t help but associate “guest” as strongly anti-vaccine.

          • Suzi Q 38

            This is why I don’t care for the name “guest.”
            It could be anyone, and I get confused as to who it is.

    • ChrisKid

      One of the most important games of the season? By the time the All-Star break rolls around, nobody will remember or care what happened in the opening two games.
      On the other hand, the birth of a child is a milestone of epic proportions in a family, and to suggest that one or two games, in a season of 162 of them, is more important, is just too far off track to even bear thinking about.
      I’m guessing that if he’d been injured in a game, those same guys would expect his wife to drop everything and be there while he recovered.

    • Suzi Q 38

      He chose to be home with his family, and I think it was a good choice. Maybe his wife had a difficult delivery and did not want to leave her and their baby.

      My husband and I just stared at our daughter the few days after she was born. We thought she was gorgeous.
      We panicked when she cried, and didn’t get much sleep. I was nursing, but my husband got up every time she cried, changed her diaper, then brought her to me so that I could nurse.

      He enjoyed his time with her and we laugh about it now.
      He asked me: “How did you talk me into changing all of those diapers?” I told him he needed to do so because the baby needed to bond with him. Changing every diaper whenever he was home was not only helpful but a bonding experience, LOL. Who is she looking at while she is getting her diaper changed?

  • Eric Thompson

    People have to make choices; you truly can’t have it all. I personally believe family should come first. I will never be rich. Some people prefer money over family and I don’t fault them; neither their choice nor do I think we should take a greater portion of their money that they have due ot their choice and personaly sacrifices.

  • Markus

    I am eternally grateful to my wife for going into labor on a weekend when I was already on call. It was very convenient for me! I was getting dressed to go on rounds when she came out of the shower with the news that her water had broken and pains started. I did not even have to make an extra drive to the hospital. Double good luck, labor was fast and easy (Iowa German girl pelvis). I did all the right things but did enjoy good luck; I wish that all dads get such blessings structured into their work life.

  • buzzkillersmith

    Oh, I get it. You mean going back to work ASAP. At first I thought you meant leaving your wife and newborn for another woman or just plain bolting. Which has also been done quite a bit.

    That having been said, going back to work ASAP will increase the profits of the CorpMed outfit that has your privates in its hands, those same privates that were successfully employed some months back.

    Every cloud has a silver lining. Your cloud. CorpMed’s siliver lining.

    • Suzi Q 38

      Profits over bonding? How materialistic is that?

  • Suzi Q 38

    Francesa sounds like a pompus jerk.
    Fathers are just as important to children.
    Having a baby is a very special time…each child is unique, so nothing beats being there and spending time with the family.

  • Suzi Q 38

    I get it….. I understand now.

    For about 20 years, my husband owned a family business, too. There were times we did not get a paycheck.
    I was wondering why my GP was in his office whenever I called.