Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let's Hear It For The Dads

With Father's Day just a few days away, I wanted to devote a couple of posts to dads.

Did you know that the March of Dimes has create a site with information geared just for dads? Check it out: March of Dimes site just for dads. There is a lot of great stuff there. I love that they made a separate section. I think too much of the time all of the pregnancy/new baby information is only talking to the moms so dad's tend not to read it. They miss out on some good information.

Here are some things that I have noticed/learned/discovered as the parent of two preemies:

1) Ask him too - With both of our kids I've heard many people ask "how are you doing?" or say "this must be so hard on you." And while I greatly appreciate the concern, I realize that many people don't/didn't ask my husband how he was doing. It's his baby in the NICU too. So take a moment and ask the new dad how he's holding up.

2) Guys are different - Although there are thousands of articles and talk show segments devoted to the fact that guys react and think differently than women, in the stress of the moment we often forget. We maybe in the corner crying our eyes out and look over at our husband/partner and see him zoning out watching a ballgame. Your first instinct maybe to yell "What is wrong with you?" but before you do that - take a moment (or two). Guys often internalize a lot of stuff - just because he isn't sitting next to you crying doesn't mean he isn't just as upset. Now if he normally cries at stuff and suddenly he has the emotional depth of a doorknob than maybe you should talk about it. Make sure he isn't burying those feelings too deep. I still remember the day that the social worker came to see us after our son had been born. He was born very early Saturday morning and she didn't see us until late Monday afternoon. Now, if I can help it I try not to cry in front of random strangers. We had already talked and cried with so many people that I was able to hold it in. So, it bothered me SO much when after talking with us she said "I'm a little concerned that you guys aren't more upset. You know, crying more." Remember that outward appeareances often hide what's going on inside.

3) Dads need to take care of the baby too - I know how hard it is to watch your baby in the NICU and see the nurses doing all of the day to day care. You just want to jump in there and say "that's my baby. I want to do that." So I also know how exciting it is to change a diaper and take a temperature. Finally - mom gets to do something. And while that is very important and a huge bonding moment, don't forget about dad. Let him (even encourage him) to get in there too and change the diaper every once in awhile.

4) Dad may not want to be at the hospital for as long as you do - this goes back to the whole concept of guys are different. You may be content to see at your baby's bedside for hours at a time. Your husband may be good with a 10 minute visit. Or vice versa. One is not wrong or better. Try not to get upset with your husband. Talk about it and just accept that he is doing what he needs to do and you get to do the same.

More later this week...

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