How to be Mr. Mom
How to Be a Mom and a Dad at the Same Time
Terror went through my mind as I awoke to the screams of my daughter, Isabella. She had received her 12 week injections the day before. These are the first routine shots that a baby receives after they leave the hospital. Up to that moment, my wife, Liz, and I had been enduring the regular cries that instinctively tell us that Isabella is either hungry, tired, or has a soiled diaper. However, I heard a different cry after three injections went into her upper thighs, simultaneously. This was a cry of pain, the same cry that had just awoken me.
I ran into the other room where Isabella was and found her asleep in her bassinet. I had just had a nightmare about the day before. Yet, I hovered over her for a while to admire her and to make sure her breathing was normal.
The first and most essential part of how to be a Mr. Mom is that the father must unconditionally love his child. He must accept that he is not the most important person in his life anymore, his child is. My wife had three months of maternity leave off from her busy sales manager job at a downtown Denver hotel, however the first two weeks after Isabella was born were a test for me. Liz was virtually bed-ridden and I did everything around the house except breast feed Isabella.
Isabella was born on the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2011. I did not sleep for 36 hours leading up to and after Isabella was born. Sleep didn’t come much easier in the following months as well. If a father is to become a Mr. Mom, he must realize that sleep is relative. He has to take what he can get and never expect to get what he wants. I made the mistake of expecting that I would get a certain amount of sleep during the night or during a nap and it didn’t happen. It is frustrating, therefore I gave up on it.
If a Mr. Mom has any fear of urine or feces, it is an absolute that he get over that fear immediately. All that babies do for at least the first few months are eat, poop, pee and sleep. During that time, a dozen or more diapers have to be changed per day and it is virtually guaranteed that he will get urine, feces, or both on him almost daily. I got a little smarter after the first time Isabella peed and pooped all over my outfit. One day I thought it was a good idea to carry her around without her having any clothes or a diaper on. There must be something very relaxing to a baby about being naked because she let it all out at once. Instead of being angry, I laughed and cleaned myself and Isabella up. Having a sense of humor and being humble helps tremendously while being a Mr. Mom as well. It makes something very hard seem easier.
My life as Mr. Mom didn’t officially start until the first week of December, 2011. Liz had to go back to work and I was finishing final projects and studying for final exams from home. I had to use the time that Isabella was sleeping to concentrate on finishing out the semester. I made it work, even though I had to take her to one final exam and around campus to turn in other final projects. I was sitting in the campus parking lot in my vehicle, feeding Isabella a bottle and then changing her diaper before I could take care of that exam. I ended up being a few minutes late for the exam, but I figured that Isabella wouldn’t cry as long as she had recently been fed and had a clean diaper. I figured right.
One of the most challenging tasks was to catalog and store all of the extra breast milk that Liz pumped before she went back to work as well as while she was at work. We decided that it would be the best for Isabella’s health to use breast milk for as long as we could. Liz would pump the milk into bottles and I would equally portion out the milk into custom made breast milk freezer bags. I dated each bag and lined them up accordingly in a shelf in the freezer.
Sometimes Liz would leave work to bring me breast milk or I would take a drive with Isabella and pick it up. We did this for as long as we could. Eventually, Liz’s breast milk production went down and Isabella was eating more than Liz was producing, therefore we had to supplement formula. This eventually started making Liz feel like she had failed at something important. I had to reassure her that she had made it as far as she could and that she was a great mother. Being supportive of the mother of your child is an important element while being Mr. Mom and vice versa.
It is very important for a Mr. Mom to monitor the health of his child. If anything seems irregular about your child, pay attention to it, but don’t freak out. One of the best books I found for information was from The American Academy of Pediatrics book titled “Your Baby’s First Year,” by Steven P. Shelov, M.D. This book is an excellent resource for any parent. It is a very thorough book that details normalities and abnormalities of a baby’s first year. Mr. Mom should reference this book before calling 911 or heading to the emergency room because of something as common as the texture and/or color of his baby’s bowel movement changing. The following excerpt helped me as a Mr. Mom:
“You’ll also learn during these months, if you haven’t before, that there is no formula for raising an ideal child. You and your baby are each unique, and the relationship between the two of you is unique, as well. So what works for one baby may not for another. You have to discover what succeeds for you through trial and error. While your neighbor’s infant may fall asleep easily and sleep through the night, your baby may need some extra holding and cuddling to settle him down at bedtime and again in the middle of the night. While your first baby might have needed a great deal of hugging and comforting, your second might prefer more time alone. These individual differences don’t necessarily indicate that your parenting is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; they just mean that each baby is unique. Over these first months and years, you will get to know your child’s individual traits and you’ll develop patterns of activity and interaction that are designed especially for him. If you remain flexible and open to his special traits, he’ll help steer your actions as a parent in the right direction,” said Shelov.
Don’t read the blogs on the internet (like Liz did.) They are not helpful. Liz thought that Isabella had a tapeworm after reading a blog one day. It turned out that Isabella did not have a tapeworm after all.
Mr. Mom should always remember how special his child is. The next thing he knows, his child will decide not to hold his hand when crossing the street to school because the child feels it is not necessary anymore. A blink of an eye later and your child could be Skyping you from somewhere in China. Mr. Mom should always remember that he did everything within his power to raise his child and he can only hope that his child will hold his hand some day if he needs help crossing the street.