When NY Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, got word that his pregnant wife’s water broke on Sunday night, March 30th, he traveled from New York to their home in Florida, arriving in time for the birth of his first-born child, Noah, via C-section. Murphy then took the three days paternity leave permitted for Major League Baseball players to be with his wife before returning to the team. He missed two games including the Mets home opener.
Murphy has now come under fire on a few radio shows for choosing to be with his wife instead of immediately rejoining the team.
I immediately felt a fire within myself when I heard this criticism.
First let’s talk about NY radio host on WFAN, Mike Francesca, who devoted 20 minutes of his show to discuss how he thinks paternity leave of any kind beyond the actual birth of a child is a scam.
From Francesca’s point of view, he understands being there for the actual birth, but does not understand why you would need to be around for the days following, saying, “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 those first couple of days, you know that. You’re not doing much those first couple of days with a baby that’s just born.”
By that logic, why be around at all? Why even be there for the birth? It’s not like you’re the one delivering the baby; there’s a doctor for that. Maybe, if your schedule permits of course, just be there for conception and call it a day.
I just cannot fathom how Francesca can make claims on how Murphy should or should not be there for his family. MLB gives its players up to three days paternity leave and it is Murphy’s right to claim them. Since the MLB instituted this plan in 2011, over 100 ballplayers have taken the paternity leave without criticism. So, why the criticism now? Was it just a slow sports day?
Now, I am someone who had my husband home for 10 days and felt that still wasn’t enough. Francesca asks why the husband would need to be there, it’s not like he’s breastfeeding the kid. No, my husband couldn’t breastfeed our daughter, but he could make sure I was staying properly nourished so that I was able to breastfeed our child, and he would stay with the baby so that I could nap when I wasn’t breastfeeding our child. With Francesca’s argument, if I were bringing in Major League bank, I could have had the hired help accomplish all of these tasks.
But it was my husband who I specifically needed there when I felt completely overwhelmed and needed to cry–sometimes for no reason. It was my husband who wanted to jump in and swaddle our little girl and hold her close. And while it’s hard to have your child crying in your arms, he felt the reward of being the one to lull her to sleep in his arms.
Francesca seems to brag when he discusses that when one of his children was born at 9 a.m., he was back at work at 1 p.m. And he asks, “What was I going to do? Sit with my wife at the hospital? What am I going to do?”
I don’t know what I would have done without my husband in the hospital room with me. Being scared from all of this blood pouring out of me to hearing new cries from this new life that WE brought into this world. I didn’t immaculately conceive, people. Or just to have a moment to hold his hand, stare down at the life we created and be proud parents together.
When Francesca asks one of the show’s callers to explain the reason for a father to be there beyond the moment the child is born and says, “You don’t know what’s going on in that household,” he is cut off and chided for having a dissenting opinion.
If you think taking three days off to be with your new born child and wife who just went through the trauma of childbirth is too much, when the topic of taking the federally permissible 10 day paternity leave arises, he calls it a “gimmick.” No matter what job you have, he believes that unless there were some complications, you should be back at work and does not understand what you could possibly be doing at home for 10 days with a newborn.
No need to be there for any bonding time with the baby. While we’re at it, don’t bother trying to attend your kid’s little league games, or cello concerts, or spelling bees. There are driving instructors who can teach your kid how to drive, don’t spend time taking them behind the wheel yourself. And why try to have some family dinners before he’s off to college, you have a job to do!
Francesca wasn’t the only one who criticized Murphy’s choice to take his paternity leave. Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton took time on their CBS Sports show “Boomer and Carton” to get their voices heard.
Carton says that assuming that there are no complications, after 24 hours an MLB father needs to, “get your ass back to your team and you play baseball.”
Eiason adds, “Quite frankly, I would have said, C-section before the season starts, I need to be at opening day.”
Boomer would rather take on the risks (to both mother and child) of a voluntary C-section–major surgery–so that he could be there opening day with his team. For those of you who don’t follow baseball, we are talking about the first game of a 160+ game season. Games that, essentially, don’t mean a whole heck of a lot in the scheme of things.
Esiason goes on to defend his reasoning with, “This is what makes our money, this is how we’re gonna live our life. This is gonna give my child every opportunity to be a success in life.”
Yes, I understand that we can’t just all sit at home with our children at all times; money has to come from somewhere. But taking the permissible amount of time away from work to be with your family should not be something that is criticized. It should instead be applauded. And as far as being “a success in life,” isn’t having a father who loves and respects his wife and is as present as he is able for his family more of a determining factor in his child being a success in life than just throwing money at the kid?
Esiason has since apologized for his statements and says that the March of Dimes, an organization that strives to end premature birth, re-educated him on the risks of a scheduled C-section for the purposes of convenience.
After hearing about the criticism, Daniel Murphy responded to ESPN saying, “That’s the awesome part about being blessed, about being a parent, is you get that choice. My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day–that being Wednesday–due to the fact that she can’t travel for two weeks.
“It’s going to be tough for her to get up to New York for a month. I can only speak from my experience–a father seeing his wife–she was completely finished. I mean, she was done. She had surgery and she was wiped. Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load of. It felt, for us, like the right decision to make.”
Good for you, Murphy! It absolutely was a decision for you and your family to make together. Congratulations on the birth of your firstborn. You are setting a wonderful example for Noah on how a man should include his partner in decisions and how you should both be supports for one another. I know your jersey says 28, but to us, you’re No. 1!