Tuesday, August 7, 2007

:: In Which I Sing My Husband's Praises ::

Reading Dr. Weissbluth’s sleep book again the other day (oh it’s a page turner), I realized how dramatically my parenting relationship with Brian has already been shaped by two things: me feeling like a giant pile of crap for four weeks after giving birth and having hubby home on paternity leave for almost all of the first six weeks of Evan’s life.

The section of the sleep bible I refer to is the section on fathers and, specifically, the part where the sleep master (Dr. Weissbluth) more or less begs fathers to become involved in (a) soothing, (b) feeding, and (c) helping babies sleep better. At one point he encourages fathers to get involved in nighttime feedings, reminding the mothers reading that they are not the only ones who can sooth baby back to sleep. He makes a point of the fact that many women won’t let their husbands help at night because they either want to let daddy sleep because he has to go to work in the morning or because they simply think daddy won’t do a good job.

This is the part of today’s post where I say how lucky I am that Brian helps out not only all evening but also during nighttime feedings. In fact, because I felt so awful early on, and because Brian was home from work for so long, he was initially the one who was much better at figuring out what Evan needed. He knew how to quiet Evan down sooner than I did, knew how to swaddle him. Just last night at the 3:20 a.m. feeding he stayed up until Evan had finished his bottle to show me how to use the new swaddling contraption (the Swaddle Me, great for babies who still need to be swaddled but who are strong enough to undo even the most eye-poppingly tight wrap, available at Babies R Us and probably at other places).

Now that I’m healed, not breastfeeding, and spending lots more time with Evan, Brian and I are quite even in our abilities (and lack of abilities!) with Evan. When Evan wails for forty minutes at a time in the evening, we take turns comforting him. When he seems sleepy but won’t go down, I’ll ask Bri, “What do you think? Should we try putting him down?” or he’ll ask me, “Do you think he seems hungry?”

I’m a little sad, then, to think that over time, I probably will be a bit better at a lot of things relating to Evan, since I’ll be the one home with him most days and Brian will be the one bringing home the big bucks. I’m sad, too, that I’ll probably be the one who gets to see most of the major milestones: the first smile, the first word. But maybe not. Brian will spend whatever time he can with Evan, and maybe he’ll get lucky.

And in at least one way, he already is. He knows his son well already and he also knows that he is competent as a father. He knows that I could leave for a weekend already and he would be able to take care of everything – the diapers, the feeding, the soothing, the play. In a way, him taking that paternity leave was the greatest gift he could ever have given me and Evan: he has given Evan a father who knows how to take care of him and how to love him and he has given me the knowledge that I’m not the only one who can do this. I’ve got backup. And that’s a great feeling.


Julie Pippert August 7, 2007 at 10:50 AM  

I'm so glad...that really is so great on so many levels, a dad's involvement. What I most hope for you is that it continues through all ages and stages. :)

Ravin' Picture Maven

Lisa August 7, 2007 at 11:12 AM  

My husband didn't even wake up to the sound of our son. I can count on one hand how many times he woke up with him. And when he DID wake up with our son, he'd wake me up shortly after to ask me "What do I do now?" Grrr.

Yes, a dad's involvement is a treasured thing!

Christina August 7, 2007 at 6:04 PM  

That's great that he's so involved! When Cordy was born, Aaron had to go back to work a week later, but he still got up at night for feedings, and he was the master of putting her to sleep in the sling. He had the right bounce-step and more physical stamina than me.

Now that Mira is here, he's usually on Cordy duty more often (since I'm breastfeeding), but he can still hold his own with Mira. And he's still good at bouncing her to sleep.

(And the Swaddle Me is great - we have it, too!)