Fathers

 

Look at my husband's face.  I love this picture.

Look at my husband’s face. First moment seeing our son. I love this picture.

One of the best things about becoming a mother has been watching my husband become a father.  During those very first days in the hospital and at home after Alex was born, I was amazed at how naturally my husband took to fatherhood. I had known he would be a great father, but seeing it in action was indescribable. Suddenly we were united by our common love for this tiny human, a love that only we could match as his parents.   He changed diapers and bathed and rocked Alex to sleep like a pro.  He truly became superdad for awhile there as he took care of me AND our new baby while I went through a difficult recovery time.  I would not have survived that time without his expert assistance.  I have never been more thankful for him.

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I couldn’t believe the emotion I saw in my husband after Alex was born.  No one can convince me that fathers who are intimately involved in the birth experience don’t have some kind of hormonal reaction similar to the one that mothers experience.  For days after our son was born, my husband couldn’t speak of either him or me without tears.  I hadn’t really seen him cry before, and was a little shocked at how emotional he got- but I loved it!  He was amazed at what I had done, amazed at the new little person we had made, and amazed by the birth process in general, I believe.  The birth was so rough for him because he went so so long without sleep and it was really tough for him to see me struggle in labor for so long.  He was amazing, though, and with me every single minute of it.  I have never loved him more.

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My husband returned to work when Alex was about 3 weeks old, and he told me how difficult it was to leave in the morning.  He’d see Alex sleeping and he’d be so cute with his little arms thrown above his head that he didn’t want to go.  Sometimes I feel badly for my husband that he doesn’t get to spend as much time with Alex as I do.  I see every little change and every new thing that Alex does.  I also can stay very in tune with his needs, especially that ones that change on a day-to-day basis (i.e. today, bouncing helps him get to sleep; yesterday, it was walking).  When Alex was four months old we took a long road trip to Texas to visit my family.  It was horrible.  Not the whole trip, just the driving part.  Alex hated the car and had such a difficult time sleeping in his car seat.  That was back when he still needed to take a nap after being awake for just 90 minutes, so it was kind of a nightmare.  On they way down, my husband perfected a method for holding and bouncing Alex while standing outside the car to soothe him to sleep.  The first time he did it, the first time he was able to calm our screaming baby to a peaceful sleep, I saw the most wonderful look of pride on his face.  He was so thrilled that he’d been able to help his son get to sleep, and I realized that that was something he hadn’t been able to consistently do for awhile.  While going to work every day and only seeing Alex for a little while each evening, he lost something that he was then able to gain back once he spent more consecutive time with his son. Previously he’d seemed easily frustrated when the things that might have worked to get Alex to sleep before didn’t work anymore, but as soon as they spent more time together, my husband was able to connect better with Alex and had a wonderful sense of how he could help him.  That entire week and a half that we were gone, my husband was the nap guru and I actually felt kind of worried that I wouldn’t be able to get Alex to sleep without his help!  It was beautiful to see my husband’s confidence return and to see the connection between the two of them grow.

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in Texas

Despite my husband’s love for our child, I know that fatherhood has been a big adjustment for him.  And he’s still adjusting.  But he’s figuring it out.  A few weeks ago he came home and told me he’d had a revelation: he’d been desperately trying to still make time for the things he loves to do, but what he actually needed to do was to realize that those days (of it just being us, and of having plenty of time for our hobbies) were gone and that now family activities are what he should focus on and enjoy.  He got all excited about the things he enjoys that we can also do with Alex, like hiking and biking (mountain biking is one of his greatest joys).  He bought a hiking carrier for Alex and was about to buy a bike trailer (but they recommend waiting until 1 year, so we’ll do that next summer, I guess).  We’ve started taking hikes with Alex a couple of times a week.  My husband loves both nature and getting exercise, so I know he feels better when we can do that stuff together.  He was really really happy after his “revelation”, and I realized that it made me feel happier as well, like him making peace with the way parenthood has changed our lives suddenly made me feel more at peace with it too.  I can tell that he still has ups and downs regarding the changes that come with being a father, much the same way that I sometimes feel very energetic, joyful and productive and other times feel tired, discouraged, and swamped.  I’m just thankful that I can recognize that it will take him time to sort everything out.

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Today was my husband’s first Father’s Day.  I found the most precious card from a baby to a father (they are surprisingly difficult to find).  It made me tear up in the store when it said “and as soon as I’m able, I’ll tell you how much I love you” (or something adorable like that).  I didn’t know what else to do for him to make the day special, but it actually turned out very nice, I think.  He woke Alex this morning because he was still sleeping at 10am (!) and then went for a little walk around the neighborhood, just the two of them. When I woke up, we went on another walk as a family.  The sun was warm and the breeze was cool and it was so nice.  After Alex’s nap (during which his daddy got to watch a little baseball and research some mountain biking trails 🙂 ), we visited my husband’s parents, went to a plant nursery, and stopped by Lowe’s.  Back at home, my husband did some stuff in the yard, I planted my seedlings, and my husband gave Alex a bath and hung out with him while I did some housecleaning.  I know it might not sound like a fabulous day to all men, but my husband felt like he accomplished a lot, which always makes him feel great!  I wanted him to get a chance to go biking, but the trails were too wet so hopefully he can go another day this week.

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I know that the job of a father isn’t easy.  They are under pressure to provide for and protect their families, plus support their wife in her new role as mother, plus try to stay connected with their children in the precious little time they get to spend with them each day.  Mothers have that special bond that’s forged by pregnancy and breastfeeding (and the extra time spent for those that are able to stay at home), and sometimes I feel it must be so easy for us to connect with our babies with those built-in bonding experiences, whereas fathers must create their own.  So, hats off to fathers on this Father’s Day, and especially to the father of my son!  You are a wonderful, loving, wise daddy, and Alex is so so blessed to have you!  I look forward to the years ahead where I can continue to watch you develop a special relationship with your son.  🙂

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. andi
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 21:37:33

    That is so beautiful especially the first picture. I can wait to see Merle as a father. He told me hes known he wanted to be a dad ever since he was four and first held his little sister.

    Reply

    • travelnole
      Jun 17, 2013 @ 22:21:48

      I once heard a doula say that she loved to see the husbands become fathers, and now I completely understand what she means. There is a beautiful transformation that happens. 🙂

      Reply

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