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I’ve gained some extra weight since my wife got pregnant, gave birth, and makes me do all the cooking.  I enjoy food, but never to the extent that made me believe I would gain 15 pounds during this pregnancy.  Luckily I came across a great blog (see Being Daddy Links) by averagechildhood about weight gain for mamas.  I commented about my weight gain and was informed that a study has been done that shows men go through weight gain during pregnancy much like women do.  Her responses, and other responses to my comment, made me feel a whole lot better about what I know call my “Daddy Fat.”

What I learned today about being a father:

Mama break was in full gear yesterday afternoon when I got home from work.  It was an atypically long day for me, and when I got home Jackie was sitting on the couch eating dinner from Noodles & Company, but she didn’t get me any.

“I didn’t get you any.”

I didn’t flinch at the realization, because she didn’t expect me home for dinner.  So I took the dog, Archie, on a fast-food adventure so she could stick her nose out the window and let her shaggy dog-mane flip-flop in the hurried wind. 

Archie, you see, was our first baby.  Jackie picked her up just over three years ago.  We nursed her through worms, pneumonia, and all sorts of other ailments that a small, less than 2 lb baby dog may not have gotten through without the loving care of a parent or parents. 

The way Jackie treated Archie was a sign of her parenting style, always in your face and over protective, teaching, guiding, loving, and playful.  She adored Archie, and just like with Griffin Archie and I really didn’t have a chance to get to know each other until mama was done making her mark on the dog.  I don’t want to compare us buying a dog to mama giving birth, but when I get home from missing my family all day I include little Archie in that phrase, and Jackie likes to say that she’s his big sister.

What I think I know:

I wasn’t fond of the idea of getting a dog, and to be completely honest Jackie went over my head and purchased Archie without my knowledge.  It was early on in our relationship, and though it took me some time to get over it (the added responsibility, the costs, the health concerns, etc.) each and every day I am glad to come home to Archie just as much as I am to Jackie and Griffin.  Archie and I have a strange bond, one I didn’t notice until the other day when I came home from work and no one was home.  I called mama who didn’t answer, and searched the small two-bed for Archie (sometimes she doesn’t rush the door right away, just to make sure you’re really home).  When she wasn’t around I sat down hard on the couch, alone, and missed my family even more than usual.

Yesterday’s ride was a great ride for Archie and I.  We get to go on walks and I still let her lay on my lap when we watch TV, but I’ve noticed lately how she treats Jackie differently, how Archie lays in her bed instead of on the couch when Jackie, Grif and I are all hanging out on the couch.  How in the morning Archie doesn’t come shooting out from underneath the covers when Jackie calls her, and how hesitant Archie has become to really come near mama and show her how much she loves her. 

Griffin’s birth has been hard on Archie, the once dominant figure in the household has now taken a back seat to Grif, who needs mama’s full attention.  Archie doesn’t eat as much, doesn’t wag her tail as much, and barks more often than is usual.  On our car ride, though, I realized that everyone, especially our closest pets, needs a little Babyface Time, too.

And after our ride to get a sandwich I let her run around the front yard, dig in the dirt box behind the apartment, and chase some squirrels.  We went upstairs exhausted, me from a long day at work and her from a few extra minutes of being outside.  We grabbed the little guy from mama, whom had a rough day, and told her to take the next three hours off.  Grif, Archie and me, well, we took a nap on my favorite chair, changed some diapers while dancing to Griffin’s noise maker, me singing a made-up song and Archie barking along, and hung out until it was time to go to bed.

Sometimes being daddy is knowing when to give that added attention to the ones who are not getting it, letting mama take some time off for herself, and letting the dog in all of us run around for just a few extra minutes longer.


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.


When Jackie hands Griffin over to me after he falls asleep and she goes off to take care of some of her mama duties like breast feed, feed herself, bathe, study, search the internet endlessly for information on what she might think is wrong with him, I secretly hope that he wakes up in my arms, opens his eyes, and sees me first.

What I learned today about being a father:

I could sit for hours with my little guy and watch his little chest move up and down as he breathes in his sleep.  I get goo-goo when he is dreaming, and then suddenly his little arms shoot up and over his head and then they slowly descend back down by his sides, his hands resting peacefully on his bulging belly.  He’s growing, I can tell and the doctor said so and when I see his now pudgy fingers I waive Jackie over quietly just to point them out.  “Here here here, you’ve got to see these things.(!)”  She runs over on tip-toes and looks at what I’m holding up, his fingers gripping my pinky, and shakes her head at me.

“Can you believe that little wonder was in my belly?”

She says it with inspiration, amazement, awe, and pats her tummy and goes back to doing whatever mamas do.  I grin daddy proud, and slowly one eye pops open, Griffin’s right eye, and his pupil moves around to see what’s going on.  He doesn’t open his left eye, not yet at least, but it’s at this point, when he first wakes up, that he is always smiling, and it’s daddy’s turn for babyface time.

What I think I know:

Children are a wonder, and it’s amazing what women have to go through to get them here.  I wanted to share that moment today because it was a first for me to experience what Jackie calls ‘Babyface Time.’  I have had the luxury of witnessing many handfuls of time when she has woken him from his sleep, but it was a first for it actually happening to me.  He doesn’t like me as much, I can tell by the scowls and way his eyes crease and his brow raises and lowers, but in that moment I feel like I get it, whatever it is.

I started writing a long time ago on accident, just pros and anecdotes about my life and my thoughts and I moved on to other things like fiction and screenplays (all for personal use of course) and in everything I do I write about the it in life that defines us.  I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I’ve been searching for it, researching it through the various religions and texts and stories and movies for a long, long time.  I’ve spent so much of my life breaking down and discussing with people the in’s and out’s of destiny and nature, the ideals of philosophers, theologians, naturalists and my dog Archie, that I failed at the time to realize one thing; I’ve never done anything as significant before as being daddy.

I could talk all I want to about life but never really know anything about it until I was a part in creating it.  Babyface time, looking into Griffin’s eyes and thinking about all the world that I have to offer him, made it  pretty clear, but I don’t know how to explain it other than with the moment when he opened his one eye, his right eye, and he looked right into me and smiled.

And like so many others before her I took an hour of Jackie’s time trying to explain to her the feelings and the emotions and the clarity involved in the simple look that Griffin exposed me to listened with as much might as she could before she readily put my insights and pontificating into simple terms that being daddy made me understand, “He probably just shat in his pants.”

As usual, she was correct.