Postpartum – A Father’s PerspectivePosted: February 28, 2011
Not long ago, the wonderful Roni blogged openly about the troubles of being a new mother. I’ve had some time to think about what she said in her post, and I thought it might be helpful to get the perspective on the stresses of becoming a new father. While I don’t shout Roni’s battle cry of “HABERMAS!” I do write this, much as she did, in the spirit of open and frank discussion about the difficulties and triumphs of becoming a first-time parent. Also, I am not an expert and never will be an expert on child rearing. I only know what I do from my personal experience, and the experiences of others may well be different.
Let’s get this out of the way, becoming a father is nothing like becoming a mother. I’ve heard it said that a woman becomes a mother the second she finds out she is going to have a child, and a man becomes a father when he first sees his child. I could not agree more with this statement.
I remember that Roni said she felt a little disconnected from the Bwun when he was born. She had known him for nine months as the little guy inside her. Then, he was always close and always quiet. She said it was hard to make the connection between the child inside that she had grown to love and this wriggling poop factory that we now had to deal with. For me, on the other hand, actually having the baby to hold and care for was completely different than being able to feel him kick every now and then. Seeing him born made him real; it made him a part of my world. I think perhaps nothing shows this difference better than our first reactions to seeing the Bwun: I knew that I loved him and would protect him with my life because he was the most beautiful child I had ever seen, Mika took one look and said “Bleh!”
For me, the hardest part of being a new father was not dealing with a new child, but dealing with a new mother. As Roni said in her post, she honestly felt like she was doing a horrible job at being a mother. The baby would cry (as babies are wont to do), laundry needed to get done (it is because of poop, people), and there was little to no sleep. No matter how often I told her that I thought she was doing a great job, and no matter how often I told her that part of the reason I married her was because I thought she would make an amazing mother, it did not seem to help. I still maintain that despite the apparent uselessness of these comments, these were important things to say.
Also, it was important for me to remember that nobody really knows what they are doing when they become a parent. No matter how many parenting books we had read, no matter how many episodes of “Super Nanny” we had watched, and no matter how many childbirth education classes we attended, nothing could ever really get us ready for such a huge change in our lives. Case in point, it took both of us 15-20 minutes to get the Bwun dressed the first time. It doesn’t take me that long to get him dressed now when he is literally kicking and screaming. We’ve been at this parenthood business for 2 years now and I still feel like we’re shooting from the hip. This is normal. This is part of being a parent. It is interesting to note that none of the fears that Roni and I had about becoming a parent came to light. I didn’t think our child was ugly and both of our children do love her.
My advice? Just keep doing the best you can. Let your baby know you love them. Let your baby mama know you love and support her. In the end, that is really all you can do. Also, remember that things get better; the crazy postpartum hormones wear off and the baby starts to be interesting. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely.
tl;dr: hardest part of being a new dad is dealing with a new mom.