Tuesday, March 19, 2013

To the expectant Father of the exclusively breastfed infant

My favorite time of day is when I am making dinner while nursing a baby, entertaining a toddler, and helping with homework, then #3 walks in, he has stubbed his toe and needs a bandaid. 

 I glance over at my husband who is playing on the computer, and say,

 "Your father is right there, ask him"
Startled by the realization that his daddy can help him, he skips right over to him, climbs on his lap, and forgets about the bandaid.

This happens less and less often as I relinquish my control and allow my husband to help.  At first he would just stay out of my way.  Then he learned to ask what is more helpful, getting the kids out of the house, or helping to make dinner.  Now he is almost always spot on, and the only time I have to remind him or the kids of his ability to care for them is when he is still waking up from sleeping off a night shift.

When I was 17 my dad publicly humiliated me and I gave him the silent treatment till he noticed it, and then he told me the best advice I have ever heard about men.

"We are so stupid
that we need to be told when we are being stupid."
And so to help the new or expectant fathers of the world who have wives that don't know how to let them help, I will impart of my wisdom, lest you be accused of being too stupid.
1. Understand that your wife is totally exhausted and sore.  She is more tired than most of you will ever be.  I know this because I went 30+ hours without sleep while running a 200 mile relay.  I did 21 miles in 24 hours, I know what tired is, and giving birth is harder.
2. She is hormonal. 
She can't tell you how she feels because she doesn't understand how she feels.
Imagine your 13 year old self.  You are staying at your Grandma's for Thanksgiving.  It is a small house with only 1 bathroom.  Your older cousin whom you have always looked up to comes with his new wife, who is smokin' hot with a nice set of boobs.  Instead of taking you shooting at the gravel pit and letting you drive home he is snuggling with his wife. 
When you get up in the middle of the night to pee you have to wait for the bathroom, only to see her, and her nice set of boobs, walking out in her nightie, you think about her and don't sleep the rest of the night.
The next morning you are totally confused.  You love your cousin, but now you hate him, you are jealous of him not spending time with you, but wish he would just disappear so you can stare at his smokin' hot wife.
Get it?  that's how your wife feels.  Hormones + no sleep = a bit crazy
Be patient! Don't try to understand her, or ask her to explain, because she cant.

3.  You take care of her so she can take care of the baby.
  * Bring her a jug of water every time she sits to nurse.
  * Keep track of any medication she is taking, bring it to her when its time for another dose.
  * Make sure she is getting enough to eat, make it & serve it to her.
  *Change all diapers.
  * Bring baby from bed to her to feed.  Getting out of bed when you are sore can be hard.
  * Create opportunities for her to shower/bathe.
"The nurses said a hot bath would help with sore muscles.  I just scrubbed the tub, so its nice and clean if you'd like me to draw you a bath.  Also, would you like me to sit and visit with you or just keep baby quiet so you can relax for a bit?"
  *Let her nap. 
"Honey, baby is fed and changed, if you'd like to go take a nap I would love some skin to skin time with our new little bundle of joy" 
Then you sit and hold the baby the entire time she naps so that she can rest without worrying if baby is still breathing.
* Change the sheets, a clean set of sheets helps sleep, so change them more frequently than usual.
    * If she doesn't like your mom, don't invite her over.
    *Keep the laundry and dishes from piling up.
    *Keep the bathroom clean and freshly stocked with toilet paper and pads.
    *If she sends you to the store for more pads, get the right ones, and don't complain.
    *If your wife is pumping to  increase milk supply, make sure you know how to set up and clean
      the pump, make sure it is always ready for her to use.
4.  If you are on Paternity Leave, you should be stellar at all the above.  Paternity Leave is not an excuse to play X-Box or go fishing.  If you are not on Paternity Leave, do the best you can.
5.  Remember:  Doctors suggest that the 4th trimester** last 6 weeks.  The quicker your wife is allowed to recover the quicker she may return to a desire to end the 4th trimester.
....And on that note...  Because of raging hormones she may feel the desire to get frisky, initiate a great make out session, and then end it before you are ready.  It may be due to a baby crying, her boobs leaking, or just confusing hormones.  Take what you can get when you can get it and don't complain about it. 
6. Never touch her boobs unless invited.
7.  If you are worried that she is depressed (or discouraged or overwhelmed), call for help.  Often all that is needed is a friend, a fellow mother, that understands.  If your wife needs more, the friend will be able to give that feedback. 
**The 4th Trimester is the 6 weeks following birth (even C-sections) where nothing is allowed in the vagina, messing around is safe if its okay with her, just leave that bit alone.

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