Saturday, December 20, 2008

I lost it. So let's talk about daddies.

The controversial idea kind of petered out. It was more of a whine/bitch that wouldn't of gone anywhere. So it was, in fact, a big tease without any release.

Instead, I would like to talk about dads and dads to be.

With my first pregnancy, my husband wasn't the kind to be at my beck and call for 2am ice cream runs. Yet, I wasn't the kind of girl to even ask for that. I am very independent so I pretty much kept doing everything I've always done. I continued to work out. I continued to lift things over 5 lbs (seriously, 5 lbs? That's like a box of cotton balls!). When I'd read or hear pregnant girls all upset about not being able to oh, bring in the groceries, you could hear my eye roll a mile away. I am a superstar at the grocery store. I have a 3 and a 4 year old and usually 2 carts. I'm 8 months pregnant and do everything on my own. The grocery clerk asks if I need help and I kindly say no, only to be told "oh, no, you are getting help" as she calls someone over. I actually have to argue that I do not, in fact, want help! I'm still perfectly capable.

Well, that obviously shows why my husband isn't the type to handle me like a fragile pregnant flower. Although, when I need a little bit of extra tenderness, I can still ask for it and he still gives it to me, it's just not something he expects to have to do on any given day. I am proud to have not turned into this little helpless girl who needs everything done for her.

When the baby was born, I took full responsibility for her care. But I assumed, rather wrongly, that my husband would just ~do~ what he needed to do. He was a smart man. I've seen him with his nephews. I knew he didn't have much baby experience, but he didn't seem worried. He definitely had the "learn as you go" mentality which I was completely okay with.

As the days and weeks moved on, I noticed I was doing maybe 85% of the baby duties. Since I was breastfeeding, I expected to do all of the feedings, but yeah, diapers, baths, laundry - none of that was done by him. Now, if I ~asked~ him, he was on it. He would actually do any sort of baby duty if I asked him. And I noticed it helped if I didn't hover. Let the man find his groove without being watched (which is how I would feel if my mil or mom would watch me do these things) and he found his groove quickly.

I let things go on like this for a few months. And then, b.r.e.a.k.d.o.w.n. !!! I was overwhelmed and I went off on him telling him I need him to ~just do what needs to be done~, don't wait for me to ask. I felt like I was always fucking asking and felt like a mother type nagging her son to do something. I didn't want that. I wanted him to just see a dirty baby and don't ~ask~ me if the baby needs a bath. Just give the baby a bath!

We had a talk about it and I found he was waiting for me to ask. And then when he noticed something to be done, he didn't want to do it since he wasn't asked, that that's why he started asking me. Eureka! We've figured it out! He had to understand I trusted him. If he had a question, sure, I'd answer, but I needed him to trust him instinct and be a daddy. And guess what? It worked. It sure the hell worked.

It took 5 or 6 months that first time for the complete transformation to 50/50 autonomous parenting. And I had to give up the power I wanted to keep over his at the beginning. I had to let him take the baby places on his own. I had to leave the house alone and leave him in charge. And you know what? It worked. He's a fabulous dad. I trust him with two girls while I take a week long business trip. I don't have an ~ounce~ of worry either.

Today, we approach if very 50/50. Sometimes we can tell when one of us needs a break and the other takes over and vice versa. I will admit that lately, I'm awfully tired and he's let me sleep in 99% of the time over the last 8 months. Bless this man. Bless him.

Anywho, he's a good man. A good husband. A good daddy. I couldn't of chosen better.

So, my question to you - If you are about to have a baby, do you have a plan? If you just had a baby, how's it working out for you? If your baby is already older and maybe you have another one already, how's it going for you? What kind of steps did you have to make? Or do those steps still need to be figured out?

24 comments:

In Due Time said...

Hope you have a Merry Christmas.


From ICLW.

Rachel Inbar said...

I think the first step is to choose well :-) A guy who's lazy is never going to help much (e.g., my first marriage, being left alone with a 2-1/2 year old and twins). Aside from my taking the night shift and him taking the morning, we never really made any agreements, but usually he bathes the girls if he's home in the evening and I do if he isn't.

I'm totally spoiled, but it's still very tiring to have three little kids (3+9m, 2+9m, 9m)

Amanda said...

I have been completely floored by how wonderful Mr. W is as a father. He's already given me nights/days off (just brining the boys to me to feed). He gave one of the boys his first bath. I ask him advice on what could be going on with the baby (hungry? gassy?). He is amazing! I didn't even change a diaper until they came home...he wouldn't let me. He's very hands on and can't get enough of anything that has to do with these boys, dirty diapers and all! :-)

Seriously? - Erin said...

Oh gosh, no plan. I don't think my DH will be very helpful. He isn't very helpful now without being what I call nagged.

I have to say, I think that me being in the hospital has opened his eyes a bit, hopefully it did. Although, I think it is time to make a plan so we have everything set.

Geohde said...

I do 95% of my twins care. ANd I work part time.

I've given up on my husband, he doesn't have a clue and I'm too sick of nagging to bother.

Sad, but true.

Plus, when he helps, he effs it up or leaves a big, fat mess.

Sigh!

J

the mol said...

My husband was a stay-at-home dad for the first 10 months with our son. We had the same job and qualifications, but my commute was shorter and I actually liked my job, so he left his job to take care of The Boy. He is pretty good about most of the parenting things, although he usually asks me about the details.

jenn said...

We have no real plan in lace. I plan on breastfeeding, so there will definitely be that division of labor in regards to the nightly tasks. But as far as everything else, all we've really discussed is daycare logistics. We would want a place close to the house since I am often out of the office (which is 45 minutes away anyway) and he works super close to home. This means I would drop off & he would pick up- even if we both left at 5, I'd maybe be there by 6 because of traffic & he'd be there by 5:10. So he would have to spend my maternity leave getting comfortable with supplemental feedings, changing diapers & clothes & all the other basics he will inevitably need to do for an hour or so until I get home. Which I can't wait for. We'll have to compress the '50/50 parenting skills training sessions' into 3 months, lol!
He's not experienced at all with infants, but I do trust him & I know he'll be able to get there as quickly as we both need to be. Of course- nothing goes according to plan with us, so we are really basically just planning to figure it out as we go!

Sara said...

Good topic!

My hubby is not one to just do something around the house. I have to ask him to do pretty much anything - and then he will do it. He doesn't complain, he just doesn't do it on his own.

So, I am picturing that he will be this way with parenting as well. I am a control freak, so if he doesn't just "take over" then I will end up doing it all. And going crazy.

A plan is going to have to be devised.

ssbean said...

You have got me thinking, and it's probably for the best. No, we don't have a plan. Why, I've shrugged off the baby care classes. I figured we can figure things out, and if we need help with something the internet has the answer. While I can change a diaper...I'm not confident in anything else as I haven't been close to many newborns. My husband hasn't even held a baby younger than 3months old, and that was very recent when he did that. So, thinking that we will both just go with the flow and figure it out is definitely the wrong outlook. I will be registering for our class tomorrow, because we do need a plan, and that's a start. Thanks for getting me thinking.

areyoukiddingme said...

My husband works out of town, so he's gone for a minimum of 2 weeks at a time. He works those 2 weeks straight (10-12 hour days), and comes home to do nothing. He usually has to make up his Army Reserve time, and do some house projects, but nothing really pressing. I work full time, our daughter goes to daycare, and I do all of the piddly life maintenance crap (grocery shopping, bill paying, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc).

When my husband comes home, he helps with the cleaning and laundry, and I can run all the errands without a 2 year old in tow. But, she still goes to daycare, and I am still mostly responsible for keeping her fed, bathed, and entertained. I get a break, and that's great. But I never get a vacation, if you know what I mean.

The husband and I used to work together, so he knows that I only have to work as hard as I want to most days. But he also knows that the personalities there are extremely stressful on the best days. So, I get really irritated with him because he thinks my life is a cakewalk because I am at home with our daughter and have a nice cushy job.

I guess, when he's home, we split 50/50. But he is not home half the time, so I am carrying a heavier load. Yet, he thinks he has the heavier load because he's away from home. If I didn't know that he likes change of scenes and being free from responsibility, I might believe him.

These are tricky waters to navigate, and what makes it worse is that the only thing we're competing for is who has the worse life. The really sad part is that our life is pretty f'ing good compared to most people.

Elana Kahn said...

Thank G-d my hubby is a domestic type. He already does the laundry, cooking, dishes, grocery shopping, etc., so I don't even have to think about it. It's like having a clothing fairy...put the dirty stuff in the basket, it comes back clean. lol And he was doing all of this before I went on bed rest, so there was no big switch or anything. I expect that when the twins come, he will continue to do what he has been doing--but with more of MY help, because I will be home more. But I definitely hope he'll also do diaper duty, baths, and maybe a middle of the night feeding--and I'm pretty confident that he'll do just fine as Daddy.

Carrie said...

My husband has zero experience with babies but is very good with kids. I've been trying to get him to read "The Expectant Father" since we found out I was pregnant, yet I'm now almost 16 weeks and he has yet to crack the book open. (Although, he has been taking it with him to work in his lunch box to read on his break, so that's a step.)

I'm a little nervous about how things are going to be but we're usually pretty good about communicating. Honestly, once I get somewhat adjusted to the baby and breastfeeding, I plan on doing a schedule so that he knows what needs to be done.

My biggest fear is that he doesn't realize just how much time a newborn takes and will be shocked and upset about how little time he's going to have to work on projects he has around the house.

On a bright note though, we were in Target last night and I got him looking at strollers and stuff and he was fascinated with the choices and kept pushing a stroller around with this daydreamy look on his face. He said he was "just imagining..."

So ultimately, I think it'll be a huge adjustment at first, but he'll be fine (and great!)

Kate said...

First, I have to say that while I do NOT consider myself a "fragile pragenant flower", I have been on modified bed rest this entire pregnancy & have some pretty tight lifting restrictions. Yes, it is very frustrating not to be able to do things for myself, but after losing 2 babies prior to this, I have strictly followed doctor's orders & am thrilled to have healthy twins still happily baking away. So while I admire women who can be superwoman while pregnant, I refuse to believe that my inability to pull 2 grocery carts & work out automatically reduces me to wimp status. (No offense intended here, I just had to state an opinion-- not every women who refuses to pick up something heavier than 5lbs is doing so out of some misguided idea that pregnant women are fragile.)
That said, my hubby has been awesome about helping out by running & fetching for me, doing all heavy lifting & anything else that needs doing. Yes, i do usually have to ask him, but I'm ok with that-- I don't expect him to read my mind. Our twins aren't here yet, but their dad is definetly the "learn as you go" type. I'm a bit concerned he's not really prepared for 2 newborns, but really, who is? & I think that with twins, he'll be forced into an active roll, since there just isn't always enough mom to go around. We've talked about it & he's willing... fingers crossed it works out with minimal breakdowns!

Jenera said...

Before we had our first one, I knew that I'd be doing the majority of the work since my hubby is gone on the road all the time. So I was already prepared for that. Granted, when he was gone for 5 weeks straight and I was home with a newborn, a ton of tears were shed and they weren't all Aidan's.

The trick for us was for me to ask for help when he was home. The only thing I can't count on him for is diapers-he just doesn't do them. But I knew that from the get go.

With just having Sam, it was a bit more difficult to adjust even though it's the same routine with the hubby being gone. Because now I had two to take care. But when he is home, he is great and will do anything and everything (other than diapers again) to help me out.

Since I do the parenting thing 100% of the time while he's gone, it is hard for me to go back into splitting the duties. Even when he's home, I tend to do the middle of the night feedings even if he wakes up with me. The last time he was home (over a week ago) he had to practically wrestle a bottle from me so that he could feed Sam.

The great thing about our situation is that he knows I get overwhelmed and will do anything I ask. Which for me is usually for him to occupy the kids while I take a bath or read a book.

But our situation is very different but it is what works for us and we are happy with it.

Mo and Will said...

No baby yet so can't answer except hypothetically. My husband Will is awesome with his nephews (and there are 9 of them ages 6 mos to 10). He does bathtime, dinnertime, reading. Probably more skilled than me at this point. Am hoping hoping hoping that that will translate to our home when and if we are so lucky to have a child.

Your hubby sounds like he found his groove. Glad you have him!

Mo

Sully said...

We have no plan in place right now either. I plan on bf-ing, so the only thing I've tasked him with so far is bringing me the baby to feed and putting it back to bed. He does have a 2 week paternity leave though, so I'm hoping we'll find our way during that period. We make a good team, so I'm not too worried. Check back with me in a few weeks. ;)

Sarah R said...

While I was on FMLA for 10 weeks (I went part time for weeks 10 and 11, then back to full-time at 12), I did 100% of everything. Then suddenly, it was time to go back to work so I had to show Daddy how to change a diaper, and we struggled with the bottle thing (introduced at 6 weeks but Andrew kept refusing it no matter what). Luckily, my workplace gave me an accommodation to come home twice a day (one of those times being my lunch anyway) to feed him.

Daddy has been a stay-at-home father well, since I went back to work over a year ago. He's learned a lot in the last year and love to take Andrew out with him to the stores. He cooks great homemade meals for him and gives him baths when necessary. I am proud of him! I am still apprehensive on how it'll be with 2 little ones, but we have another 7+ months until that time comes.

Meredith said...

I am extremely spoiled when it comes to this. My dh gave the boys thier first baths at the hospital, so that trend continues at home - he gives the boys 90% of their baths and my oldest is 3. When they were newborns he would always take a night feeding so I could get as much sleep as possible - even once he went back to work. I work part time and he works full time (with an hour commute each way) and also a part time job. He still does the dishes every night and helps me clean around the house. We both discipline, although I do more as I am home with them more. When he gets home for the day he usually takes over with the boys giving me a break. Like I said I am very spoiled.

Hollie said...

Hmm.. I don't really have a plan for how it's going to go with the baby. We've talked about the fact that while I'm healing and recovering, he'll have to do more than his share of housework and help with the baby. He's going to be off of work for a week or two. Then I'll feel better and do more. Then... hopefully we'll fall into a groove, but your story is telling me that maybe we should discuss things and I shouldn't assume that he knows if I feel like I'm doing everything. How my husband is going to be as a dad is one of the big unknowns. He's a great guy and is excited about the baby, but he likes to do his own thing too... I guess we'll just see how it goes.

Steph said...

Heh.

My husband was AWESOME with our first son. AWESOME. I worked full time when we had him, and everything was 50/50, down to babycare, housework, everything.

Then I had our 2nd baby, a girl, and everything went downhill from there. No help. Zilch. Just because I became a SAHM and he thought it was my ~job~ to do everything. (Now can you hear MY eyeroll???)

Then I had our 3rd baby. Nada. Nothing. Barely held her unless I FORCED him to. Now, that doesn't mean he didn't love her to pieces, because OMG he did/does, but he was CLUELESS.

THEN I had our 4th baby, another boy. Had to have an emergency c-section. So he HAD to help. But he's also older and wiser and more patient now, so I think that has something to do with it. He ROCKS with the baby. It's just awesome. He ~tries~ to help with the housework but let's face it, we've got 3 kids 7.5, 5 (on Friday), 3, and 5.5 months. Not much housework GETS done, at least not like we wish it did. ;)

But yeah..my other 3 deliveries were vaginal and I had no complications, and was able to just jump right back into everything on my own. This 4th one, not so much, with the c-section and all..so I think that set the "tone" for the baby duties and such. He had to start OUT helping, immediately, so he just got accustomed to "this is what I'm supposed to do" etc etc.

But yeah, he's an awesome help, an awesome daddy, an awesome husband.

He didn't start out as awesome as he is now, but we had our first baby at 23 (both of us) and he just didn't "get it" like he does now.

But it's just great. Our marriage and our family have never been better.

It is truly a learning/growing experience IMO.


Steph

stephs_3_kidz

Wordgirl said...

G is a baby hog.

I mean, not that we have a baby -- but he is so much more interested in babies than I am really -- and some of it may be he's, well -- had one -- but he is such an involved dad -- so much so that when we first started dating it was sort of an issue -- dude, share the kid...and eventually he has -- but it's the sort of thing where he insists on picking W up at school at 3:00 -- the weeks we have him -- so the weeks we're without kids he works late late -- making up for it -- its all super kid centric -- now ask me what it will be like when we have a child...mn, not sure.

I, as you know, 'retired' - to write, but also to be here for W -- to have someone to work out the household stuff -- and in the end we have a wonderful arrangement -- and I actually enjoy the home part of things -- planning the grocery shopping, cooking, having control over things at home -- he does everything outside...oh so fifties, I know...again, ask me again when I'm sleep deprived with a new infant should such a thing ever happen ;)


Love,

Pam

Morgan said...

We don't exactly have a "plan", we are more of a take it day by day couple. I know he knows his role though, and since he is good at helping around the house I can only assume he will be good at taking on the daddy roll (please lord!) :)

I'm glad you have such a good husband to you and I'm also glad you realize it.

quilt_craft (aka DrMom95) said...

We're older for one, so maybe that makes a difference. And have been married 16 years, and are still extremely (at times sickeningly to others) in love. And this is our 5th child. DH is a SAHD and has been since #2 was a toddler. He runs our ranch in his "free" time (you know when I get home from work and on weekends). Other than that- he is the f.p. (favorite parent)...esp for the babies. When I have a day off, it is "go sit down somewhere, you're throwing off my groove" as he gets everyone up, dressed, fed, and the oldest ones off to school. He is also very protective of my not overdoing things, because of issues with my last pregnancy - there is cetainly nothing frail about me as before I met him I lived alone in the wilderness for 1.5 years...ok- not alone- I had a dog...Anyway, we have no issues, and no plan other than to keep doing what we always do- we both "parent" (how mad he gets at people who ask him if he is "watching the kids today" when they see him alone with them at the store...."no, they are my children, it's called PARENTING") He does 90% of the baths and diaper-changing, etc. although when I get home from work/weekends I take over for him while he goes outside to get all his chores done. So, basically we both feel like we do our part- He works all day taking care of our children, while I work at work, and then at night/weekends, we both do about half...

Anonymous said...

OK this is SO going to have to be an anon post so I don't put my husband totally on blast, because I really do love him. And it will probably be mega long.

I have to admit, I am a little nervous this time around. Baby will be here in less than two months, and I'm starting to get nervous about this whole sharing responsibility thing as it pertains to the baby. This is not our first. However, with our first, we lived with family, so there was extra help. Baby started sleeping through the night at 7 weeks, in addition to which, hubby was at work a lot, many times at night, so he didn’t have to deal with much of that anyway. Yeah, we had it good.

I will preface the rest of this post by saying that my husband is a wonderful man. Huge heart, great person. But he grew up very spoiled, to the point it almost would handicap him in terms of responsibility.

He lost both of his parents at a young age, and subsequently was raised by grandma. Of course, I'm not downplaying how terrible it is for a child to lose parents. But needless to say, grandma did everything for him and spoiled him in every way she possibly could. He laughs and tells me there were nights his dinner was an ice cream soda. Again, of course this does not compensate for losing both parents, but grandma just loved her baby so dearly, she just wanted him to be happy no matter what.

When grandma passed, he was entering his teen years, and another family member took him in. Grandma’s passing was obviously devastating to my husband, as she was all he had. So the over-nurturing continued with this next family member. OK, understandable to a point, but this went on until he was well into his mid 20s until we married. Although he was a grown man, she really never gave him ANY responsibilities around the house, in terms of household chores, paying bills - nothing. She did everything for him. She is a great woman, and God knows where/how he would have ended up if she didn't take him in, but again, her good intentions, which were to make him happy because she loved him so much, caused him setbacks in many ways later on.

Without going on even more, let's just say I had A LOT of 'training' to do with DH myself when we married and got our apartment. I had to 'train' him to help out. No one had ever taught him to do so, really. It’s not that he was selfish, but he was used to these mother figures doing everything for him and for themselves with no help. Now, I know that I myself am a strong woman, and I could manage a lot of these things by myself, but I don’t feel it is supposed to be that way in a marriage. I believe marriage is about partnership – helping each other out in every way; with the children, household responsibilites, bills, etc. Now of course, every situation is different. If I was a homemaker, and only hubby worked, responsibilites would be shifted accordingly. But in our situation, we both worked full time, so why would I be expected to be solely responsible for EVERYTHING that pertains to the house and children? I don’t feel that is right.

My mom was one of those who always wanted to 'be a hero' and do everything for everyone, and never let anyone help. Both of them worked full time. My dad would be home from work by 3, but my mom wouldn’t be back until 7. From 3 until 7, my dad did nothing to help out around the house, he’d just ‘relax’ and take care of his business, and occasionally help me with homework. My mom would burst through the door at 7, then rush right to the supermarket, then to the kitchen to cook, and later clean and do everything else, while my dad was watching TV by 830 and in bed by 9. On top of that, she was the sole caregiver for my aging grandparents, who lived down the block. So she had her hands full. Again, my dad's a great person, and has always been a wonderful father, but if you see them now, my mother has become totally high strung, and she's the one that unfortunately looks at least 10 years older than she is due to all the stress- much of which, I hate to say, she brought about on her by not soliciting help ever.

OK so this is getting way OT. Whew! Thanks for giving me the space to vent.

Point is: I need to put this issue back at the top of my list, so thanks for bring this up and putting it out there. I need to talk to honey NOW about how we will work things out when little one arrives. Like your husband, he's pretty good about stuff when you approach him the right way and explain things.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I think it will help a lot of first timers. Definitely a good thing to think ahead ladies!

Good luck!