Freefall: Going Boob-less

Life would be so much easier if I had boobs.

There, I said it.

So much easier.

It seems to me slightly unfair that only women are equipped in this area. Dads like me would certainly feel a lot more useful if we were given breasts.

Cue the jokes about how I’ve got man-boobs already.

Thanks for that.

The thing is, I’m being serious.

New dads, when you talk to them, often recite the same issue: the feeling of being useless.

Well not ‘useless’ exactly. We’re good at making cups of tea for mum and moving heavy things about. But when it comes to the bread and butter of looking after a baby – we’re often completely surplus to requirements.

I want to stop here and make an acknowledgement. I’m very well aware that there are a whole host of mothers who do not or cannot breastfeed. I am in no way implying that by not breastfeeding these amazing parents are surplus to requirements. Far from it. As someone who spent a good period of time in a neonatal unit, as premature son wrestled with the task of breastfeeding I do know how hard and frustrating it can be. Being able to feed a child by one specific method is not a mark of whether one is a good parent or not. Mothers everywhere I salute you and the valiant work you do.

Which brings me back to my point. For better or for worse, my son is being breastfed. Which in so many ways puts a massive weight of responsibility on my partner. A weight, much as I’d like to, I can’t take from her.

I’ve tried. Lord, have I tried.

You see Sam, like most babies, doesn’t just feed when he’s hungry. He feeds when he’s upset or feeling unwell or surprised or tired or bored…

…you get the picture.

It’s a comfort thing. Essentially Sam turns to milk at all the intervals when I would have a pint or inhale a tube of Pringles. This means that my other half gets all the extremes of emotion. This is exhausting for her and it’s exhausting to watch.

It’s a difficult position for the father to find himself in. It takes me back to Sam’s birth, in an operating theatre, via C-section. Sam wasn’t doing well and was rushed into intensive care. Meanwhile my partner had a large hole in her. Suddenly I had two people to care for, look after and protect. The thing was they were physically heading in different directions. I couldn’t be with both. So I did what any parent would and went with Sam.

I feel a similar strain here. I want Sam to be happy and content, but I also see how tired this makes my partner and frankly I want to protect her from it.

Hence the boobs.

Men with boobs may not be the best idea. I mean, as a teenager, I’d have never left the house! I would, however, like to be able to help more.

We’re weaning Sam at the moment and so going through the Titanic – I don’t use that word lightly – struggle to get him to take the bottle from me. We have screaming, arching of the back, bulging blood vessels and dry retching – and that’s just me.

Seriously. It’s not easy. Apparently, babies can smell milk from their mother if she’s nearby and will thus refuse to feed from a bottle. I’d heard that sharks can smell a drop of blood in an ocean, Sam’s sense has got to be far more powerful than this! My other half has hidden in the kitchen, gone upstairs and even out for a walk, but the little man still seems able to sense her proximity. I’m sure that, even in full camouflage gear, he’d spot her in an instant.

It’s been quite a battle of wills. I want to help the boy, I also don’t want him upset. None of this would happen if he could feed directly from me when his mum is at work.  I’m reminded of the man-boob that Robert DeNiro sports in Meet the Fockers. I’d thought it ridiculous at the time. These days if Amazon sold them I’d be buying one right away – no second thoughts.

I can only hope that as Sam gets older, I’ll be able to pull my weight a little more. I’ll be happy to sit through all those dull conversations about Power Rangers while my partner puts her feet up. I promise. I might even pretend to be interested in football if it’ll make him happy and give her some time off.

In the meantime I’m relegated to providing tea and sympathy. Mothers, breastfeeding or not, are amazing and I take my hat off to them all!

That’s all for now.

Still sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

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