Brad Kearns is a gym manager from Tuggerah, in New South Wales, Australia.
He has had three sons, but his first, Buddy, was stillborn.
Two weeks ago, he wrote a message about fatherhood and his first Fathers' Day on Facebook:
Do you remember the first time you touched your child's hands?
You rubbed your thumb across the top of their fingers as they hold onto yours. You grab their entire hand and hold it in your fist. You give it a little squeeze to let them know that you're there; and you sit in awe of their vulnerability. And at that moment you make your silent promise. A promise to protect them. To care for them. To give them your all. A promise to be the best parent you can be.
His message has been liked thousands of times and has been the subject of media attention due to his sensitive discussion of the meaning behind his tattoos:
I begin thinking of these handprints around my neck. These tiny little hands that are positioned like an eternal cuddle. These are the hands of our first son. His name was 'Buddy'. It wasn't always going to be his name, but it seemed right at the time. When we met him for the first time and he was peacefully sleeping. It just seemed so right. He was my little Buddy. The handprints serve as my daily reminder.
From that day forward I was a dad. The fact that we couldn't take him home with us didn't change a thing. The fact I would never teach him to kick a ball didn't matter. We held his hands and we called him our own. He was the first little boy I ever made that promise to.
I remember on the next Father's Day I didn't expect anything. I got a card. I received a few lovely text messages. I was still a dad. It meant the world to me. It made my promise real.
You can read the full post here:
His writing has picked up interest on social media and in outlets online, with many reacting positively to his story and his discussion of the topic of losing a child.
Brad, who also runs the DaDMuM blog on Facebook, told indy100:
Of all the things I have written to be shared around the world this is the most important to me.
I normally refuse to talk to most media outlets - however, if I can help link one single person to a support network it will all be worth it.
I think the positive reaction comes from relatability. It's actually a very common thing but for some reason it's taboo to talk about.
Awareness is important. Awareness creates permission for a topic to be discussed and social media creates the platform. Therefore if we can create awareness through social media we are giving people permission to discuss in a safe environment. I don't think there's a way for it to be discussed... Just discuss it.
I think it's definitely a subject men aren't comfortable discussing. I don't have an opinion on the modern role of fatherhood. All I really have is my own experience. And even that has really only taught me to just try to give my family the time they deserve and to be the best role model I can be. If that's different than the fatherhood role from 50 years ago then so be it, however what has always been done isn't going to change what I do.
For support regarding infant loss or neonatal death UK residents can contact Sands, a specialist charity, while people in Australia can contact Bears of Hope.