I realized today how hard it is being mama. Jackie, nearly in tears, talked to me about how she doesn’t know if she can breast feed any longer. I listened as best I could, trying hard not to say anything that didn’t agree with her reasoning or say anything that agreed with her reasoning too much, so I didn’t say anything at all. She was anxious, nervous, and under enormous pressure to meet the goals she had set for herself with this endeavor. It was hard to see, hard to be there and try to console her when I couldn’t completely understand what she was going through. Baby cried, too, and I could tell in her eyes that she was having a mama breakdown which was breaking my heart.
What I learned today about being a father:
Jackie is a rock. She works hard at everything she does and is not one to accept any type of failure whether it falls on her or people she sets expectations for. This, however, has her baffled.
I’ve noticed the frustration with his feedings over the last two days, tried hard to be understanding and do whatever I can to help. I offer to make a bottle, give her mama breaks, get her favorite dinner and just about everything else under the sun that I think might make a difference but nothing does. And everything I do isn’t enough, or is wrong, or isn’t what she wanted from me. I’m trying to understand, still, but I’m not quite getting it.
During yesterday’s afternoon feeding she spoke out loud to Griffin about his feeding habits. They have changed, over the last few days, and he has become more fussy, picky, if you will, about when he feeds and what he is feeding on. It seems to change by the minute and has become insatiable. Then, during lunch and dinner I noticed something completely changed about my wife; she complained about both meals. Her feeding times were off, too. She wanted lunch at 1:30PM, dinner at 5; and everything that touched her mouth wasn’t good enough. It even carried over to breakfast this morning too, and it hit me; Baby and mama were now eating out of habit rather than necessity.
What I think I know:
My mind may be playing tricks on me, but what I think I know is that mama and baby are facing the same challenges when it comes to their temperaments and their eating habits. Neither eats a complete meal and both show distaste for whatever it is they are eating. When she is fussy, he is fussy, and vice verse. When I started to mention it to her to try to relax her assumptions she went off on a tyrant about all the things I didn’t know, what I didn’t understand, and how I would never get it.
Listening to her isn’t easy, and understanding both of them is extremely hard. Part of being daddy is getting to know what the faces and sounds our babies make mean, drawing from past experiences on what calms them down and what does not. Whether it’s a certain position or a particular Nuk, our babies need us to get them, and our partners need us to listen, be here, and never let their frustrations get the best of them.
Jackie took a shower to relax, and I took Griffin, crying baby and all, and put to work one of the realizations that I came about the other day. I plugged in the iPhone, opened up the windows, and danced while singing to Coldplay. I don’t know what it is but my voice, no matter how bad it sounds, grabs his attention, makes him hold still, and gives me amble Babyface Time with my son.
Jackie got her mama break too. And when she sees Griffin smiling and being calm she smiles and is calm. She hugs daddy, kisses her son, and gets ready for his afternoon feeding. Today, above all days, she fed him strictly from the breast. “All right Grif, I’m not letting you off that easy,” she said. And then it happened. Griffin took from the breast, mama ate her salad, and I realized that being daddy is not just about trying to understand the things I hear but understanding better the things I can’t.