It shouldn’t be a topic of taboo, and even if it is I’ve got to tell everyone how amazed I am by the resilience of the female body. Today the milk man brought to our doorstep more than my beautiful wife could handle, making regular daddy duties seem infantile to the prospects of providing vital nutrients and vitamins to our child’s development.
If it wasn’t for this sweet nectar of life (is it sweet? I can’t remember) provided by our mothers, very few of us would have made it this far. Each new day brings challenges, but seeing my wife’s eyes light up with the coming of the milk gave us hope that all her efforts and hardships nursing will pay off, soar nipples and all.
What I learned about being a father:
Every time I take a relaxed, content baby from mama into my arms I swaddle him closely to try to form a bond in the likes of that between child and mother. Subsequently, child wraps himself into me, looks into my eyes and at the happy smile on my face, listens to my goo-goo’s and ga-ga’s for a moment, and then begins to wail like a banshee in the setting sun.
His reactions have made me nervous, thinking I’m holding him wrong or that he’s getting cold or that I’m not giving enough support where I should. Mama takes him away, quiets him down, and something amazing happens next; she reassures me that the reasons he starts crying are not just because of me.
Being daddy becomes a little bit harder as I realize that he is much more dependent on mama for all the things he needs. My natural instinct is to think and act like a provider, try to give my child everything he needs and keep my family safe from harm, but baby doesn’t know all that yet. What I learned about being daddy is that there are definitely hard times ahead in terms of developing a relationship with a child who doesn’t necessarily need me, his daddy, when mama is really the most important person in his development as a newborn.
After three days of wondering why he doesn’t take to me I have my lovely wife to thank for getting me out of my small rut of not feeling needed. I still try to keep him safe and calm and content, but when I can’t and she takes him from me she looks at me with reassuring eyes, tells me he loves me very much, gives me a kiss, and then directs me to get her something to drink and make her lunch. That, in itself, is my way of taking care of the baby.
What I think I know:
What I thought I knew about breasts has been thrown out the window. I was once a young man growing up goo-gooing and ga-gaing about breasts just as much as my son does now, but being daddy has shown me everything the amazing breasts can do and how truly important they are to the development of child. I’m enamored about the rituals and routines that my wife has perfected and how seriously she takes the importance of breast feeding. She is a rock, and because of her I’ve learned to respect the breast in a completely different way then I did before.
It may sound strange, but learning about Colostrum, the importance of a correct latch and all the benefits breast feeding provides for mama and child have truly made me feel more grown up. As I watch her nurse I am amazed about the changes that have taken place inside her body, but just as important I am concerned with how child is doing. What I know now is that helping child with a better latch, cleaning breast pump equipment, keeping mama and child awake during feeding (because yes, she has fallen asleep a time or two already), and knowing that her fabulous breasts are making baby more healthy and more alive every day are part of what being daddy is all about. And as her trusted assistant I am tasked with the most important duty of all, rubbing Lanoline cream over her soar areola and nipple areas.
Anything I can do to help… that’s what it takes being daddy.