Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What Can Daddy Do?

Fatherhood is changing.

I’ve said it a million times before and now I’m living it. Today’s dads, as a general rule, are more involved in their children’s lives than ever before.

This ‘involvement’ shows itself in a number of ways – shared parenting duties, daddy blogs, daddy playgroups, stay at home dads… the list goes on. That being said, I can see how and why our fathers took a back seat in parenting.

My initial parenting plan was to be able to do everything P.Pie does and share those responsibilities. That was a great plan. Really.

But the truth is, there are some things I Just. Can’t. Do. And they’re pretty important bonding things.

Like breastfeeding.

Don’t misunderstand; I can feed babies from a bottle – I have before and I will again.

But it’s just not the same.

And it’s not really a part time job – 15-30+ minutes every 2-4 hours. So, when you spend that much time bonding, you naturally wind up sort of taking over the lead parenting role.

You don’t really want to give up your parenting role, but the mom looks so happy with the baby that you can’t bear to take it away from her.

I noticed this bonding thing happening in my home, so I decided I was going to counter it with an equally bonding skill. But what’s a dad to do?

You need a skill that comes naturally; something that you’ve probably practiced for a very long time, something that you’ve done your entire life.

After some quick thinking, I had the answer. Belching. Or, if you’re trying to talk your wife into it, call it ‘burping’.

Baby taking a break between boobs? Give’em a burp. A little fussy after laying down for a while? A burp could be the answer.

In the last seven days, I have gotten the ‘burp’ down pat (so to speak).

You may say that anyone can burp a baby – lay them on your shoulder and pat, right? Au contraire, mon ami!

Just as you learned that gulping you soda caused long, wet, bass-filled belches and swallowing air gave dry, quick burp, there is also an art to burping a baby.

For my daughter, she burps better if she is facing a little past noon with leaning attitude of several degrees and several firm pats, starting just above the butt and working upwards, nearly to the nape of the neck.

Of course, that’s my baby girl. My boy, when he comes home from the NICU, will be different, just as your baby will be different.

It takes some practice, but it’s well worth it.

The first time your wife hands you the baby and says, “Burp her, I can’t do as good as you,” you’ll know the value of your elementary school playground education.

9 Comments:

Blogger creative-type dad said...

I think that's why they created the man-boob.
I predict the thing will be HUGE in Germany

2/28/2007 11:14 PM  
Blogger radioactive girl said...

My husband used to swaddle our kids in blankets better than the nurses could. That was his job, and he loved that he did it so much better than me. Good for you figuring out something you could do instead of trying to talk your wife out of breastfeeding like my friend's husband did when he felt left out.

3/01/2007 6:07 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I was very happy when we decided to formula feed. During that initial phase, we would both drag our butts in their every nighttime feeding and each feed one of the kids. It really helped keep me involved from day 1.

Also, about belching. Make sure you actually hit the stomach. I held the kids over my left shoulder and used my right hand. I hit the right side of their back before I read somewhere that reminded me that stomachs are on the left side. Things got better after that. Also, make sure the baby is up pretty high on your shoulder.

3/01/2007 6:31 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Way to go! My husband was the best swaddler too. And don't forget diaper changing. And food making. And laundry doing. And ...

What are you talking about. There's TONS of stuff to do.

3/01/2007 8:08 AM  
Blogger Rob Barron said...

I, too, am a King Swaddler. And quick with the diaper change.

But Laundry? Food making? Those are bonding things. Of course I do them too, but it's not bonding with the baby, per se.

3/01/2007 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Kaz said...

Dude - couple of things...

(1) you've got years to bond. Just wait - when they are older, dad will (sorry moms!) be "the fun one".

(2) sorry to rain on your parade, but when you wife tells you that she doesn't do something as well as you - she's lying and just trying to make you feel better :) (what they are really thinking is, "Here's something he can do without screwing it up, so why not..?")

3/01/2007 9:09 AM  
Blogger Sandie said...

Robert,

I just want to apologize. I've been so wrapped up in my own problems lately that I've actually forgotten to look at your blog and I didn't even know that the babies were born! Congratulations on welcoming them both to the world.

There is little a stranger can say to comfort you as you worry about your son, but maybe it will provide you with some small measure of comfort to know that my family and I are thinking of you and hoping for the very best!

I'm glad to see that you are adjusting to fatherhood and that you have found your own way to bond with your children. You sound like you are well on your way to being a great daddy!

Love and best wishes

Sandie Modersohn

P.S. I promise to pay more attention and keep up with Doss' progress.

3/01/2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger The Lockhart Family said...

Dear, King Swaddler of the Mountain Time zone! I love love love to swaddle - I even came up with my own patented method, check it out!

One thing that my wife has noticed is that I'm bonding in a much different way to the Deuce than she is. When she holds them now, they rut and want milk. But when I hold them, they want stimulation, conversation, stories, and songs.

The Deuce and I love our cruise time around the house in the baby bjorn as we do chores like laundry, food prep, etc. Those mundane tasks can and do become the best times to bond!

-Walker

3/01/2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Dee said...

Yep, my husband is the mack daddy of the swaddle in our house. My efforts pale in comparison--so much so that I'm always tempted to wake him up after the late night (2 a.m.'ish) feeding to get him to do it up again after my weak attempts have failed.

P.S. Thanks for your comments over my way. If you want to email me (and I couldn't find yours either--thanks blogger), you can find me at dawn_mesa at yahoo. From one stroke parent to another, how I hope these past few days have been good (or, at the least, better) for Doss :-) You had a great point about the neural pathways at this age...and the 'rest' Doss is getting in the NICU will allow him the time to heal. Time can work wonders.

3/01/2007 7:55 PM  

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