Dylan’s father has always played a very important role in his life. From the day Dylan was born, Jake has been a very hands on dad. He helped me immensely during the first couple of months and let me focus on learning how to breastfeed. He cooked and cleaned and made sure that I was well taken care of. He gave Dylan baths and changed his diaper. He would let me get a few extra hours of sleep in the morning by taking Dylan downstairs after his first morning feed. He brought me many meals in bed when Dylan was having a fussy period and was cluster feeding. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through the first few months without Jake’s help. He did everything else so that I could concentrate on breastfeeding.
I can recognize now how helpful Jake was during the first few months, but at the time I didn’t really see it. I felt jealous that he got to the bathroom when he wanted, or shower when he wanted. I even felt jealous that he got to go to work and I had to stay home all day taking care of a fussy baby. I felt that my life had turned upside down and his had barely changed. I was mad that it would never be equal – that I was doing more of the parenting than he was. Over time I stopped expecting for things to be equal. I began to understand that a mother’s role is different than a father’s in the early years. Instead of resenting it, I began to see the positive aspects of it. I began to feel special and proud that I was the only one that could feed Dylan and that my presence and touch could soothe him so quickly.
As Dylan grows older, Jake is able to do more with him. When we started him on solids Jake was the one that fed him food. As Dylan has become more active, he truly loves playing with Jake. Jake loves teaching him songs and games and how to do new things, like throw a ball or even how to use his iphone! They have such a close and strong relationship and I know that it will continue to develop. When I started back at work, Jake and Dylan really grew close. I leave early in the morning and Jake and Dylan have an hour or two together before Dylan goes to daycare. Just having that time together alone in the morning without me there has really strengthened there relationship.
I often hear from new fathers that they want to bond with their breastfed babies by feeding them bottles. They think that this is the best way of developing a relationship. However, this often creates additional work for a breastfeeding mom as she has to pump and then wash everything, including the bottles. There are so many other things that a father can do to bond with his baby, even in the early months – such as bathing the baby, changing diapers, rocking the baby, wearing the baby in a carrier, singing to the baby and talking to the baby. By doing these things, and by allowing the mother to concentrate on feeding the baby, breastfeeding is enhanced and the couple and family unit is sustained.
What are some of the things your baby and partner enjoy doing together? How has their relationship changed as your child has grown older?