You read a lot about mothers bonding with their babies but it’s still a bit of a taboo about dad’s and their post-natal feelings and how they bond with their baby.
I’m quite sure most people will agree that having a baby is the most life-changing experience you will ever go through. Life as you knew it before is never the same again, in many wonderful ways but also in terms of the challenges you face. You gain a new perspective on many things.
Prior to having a baby, it’s very easy to be judgemental about other parents and their parenting styles or decisions but once you become a dad- you learn that nothing is as black and white as it once seemed and you become a lot more open minded to most things relating to parenting.
Finding out that I was going to be a father for the second time didn’t fill me with so much worry because I’d already done it all before. Having learnt so much the first time around, I thought there wouldn’t be too many surprises. We’d experienced a 60 hour labour, surely this time around wouldn’t be anything compared to that… we’d had a baby who was totally “anti-sleep” for the first two years of his life, presumably the second baby had to enjoy snoozing more than the first? And I was right for both of those things, but nothing had prepared me for the dynamics of actually having two children under the age of two. Double the trouble, two nappies to change in the morning, two mouths to feed at the same time, the ratio of 1:1 per parent… before if you needed a break your other half could take the baby.
Now more than ever we needed to be efficient, it was all out warfare. We went from having to do everything with one hand, to having no hands! Our toddler still needed us for most things and the new baby totally needed us for everything. Within the first week, we knew we needed a baby carrier. We’d not used one much with our eldest but now it was a necessity. For a father, you of course love your baby but they are a total stranger at first. You’ve not felt them kicking you from within for the last few months or felt the first flutters, or experienced your stomach growing as they do… you have a lot to catch up on.
Using a baby carrier was not only a necessity to be able to get stuff done or to tend to our chaotic toddler, it was also a way for me to keep the baby close and let him get used to me and my smell. I could get out and about and give my wife a bit of a break, holding my baby close and letting him sleep against my chest- a win for everyone.
Having a baby with bad reflux, wearing our boy was a godsend. With reflux came many evenings of crying, constant crying. Often, the only way to get him to settle and to sleep was to put him in the carrier- he liked being upright so it worked a treat.
22 months on and I still use a carrier. Our needs have changed as our boy has grown from a new born to a toddler but our carrier is still an integral part of our busy lifestyle and I carry my boy with pride. We like getting outdoors and when we’re on terrain that’s not pushchair-friendly, a carrier is essential. Our toddler hasn’t slept in a pram since the first 6 months so getting him to take a nap in public is only possible in a carrier. He’s been walking for a couple of months now but he’s only little so he gets tired quickly and it also helps keep him safer if I’m out on my own with both boys.
There seems to be a bit of a stigma around men using baby carriers but I don’t see why mums would use a baby carrier and dads wouldn’t. It’s not feminine to carry your child, it’s part of being a parent. For the modern day man, using a carrier is no different to getting involved with every other aspect of raising your child.
Nowadays dads are present in the room when their babies are born, dads offer help with the night shift duties even though they have work the next day and shock, it’s very common for dads to also really struggle adjusting to life with a new baby.
Using a baby carrier suits our busy lifestyle perfectly. If anything, I would say it’s a statement piece! To say, “I am doing my bit and I’m proud”. And it also gives that added sense of involvement; people actually talk to me about our babies when we’re out just as much as my wife – and I’m not just the brawn in the background carrying the pram up the stairs when needed!
Steve – Proud Dad of 2!