Wednesday, March 15, 2006

They Don't Come With Instructions

A little burned out on politics recently, folks, just FYI. I'm also trying to get into my "Dad" role and become the best darn Chief Engineer my ship has ever had. So, life, as always, creeps up on you.

I'm about to discuss a topic that for some reason unfathomable to me makes some people uncomfortable, so I just wanted to warn you in advance. I'll probably do this again in relation to the impending birth of my son, so consider this your heads up.

Last night I went to breastfeeding class. Oh, yeah, I know, breastfeeding class. The hospital schedules several classes at night for new parents to learn about how to care for their babies. You can muddle through it all right on your own, but it's nice to have discussions with experts. What it all comes down to is that it's the best food you could possibly give a baby, it builds immunities and helps with development. There's a lot of other benefits you can read about if you like.

I learned a couple interesting things. For example, not everyone nurses their baby. That's a completely foreign concept to me; my mom nursed all of us kids, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me for parents to spend tons of money on formula that's only a pale imitation of mother's milk. You're right there and fully equipped, just feed the kid!

The first thing was an offhand remark about breastfeeding laws. I said, "You would think the Rhode Island legislature would have more productive ways to use its time." It turns out the laws are to protect mothers, so they say. Rhode Island breastfeeding laws require employers to accomodate breast feeding mothers, and exclude breastfeeding mothers from disorderly conduct laws. You can get a list of national breastfeeding laws here. Is there something offensive about nursing that I am not aware of?

The UN, through UNICEF and WHO, has even gotten involved by starting the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. All this might seem like a little much to you if you're living in the United States, but it's a big deal in third-world countries to help prevent disease and foster growth and development. Mothers in poorer nations will also nurse longer due to... well, the ample supply of food for the child. Last night we learned that no matter how long you nurse, you should introduce a bottle every couple of days starting at four weeks, otherwise you might have a difficult time weaning later. I think these parents that nurse for two to six years are nuts, but it also helps with family spacing, since if you are nursing, you are not fertile. But if I can have a conversation with the kid, I think it's time for macaroni and cheese.

Even though it's a natural thing, not everyone knows how to do it right. The baby knows how to do it right, but he needs a little help from Mom at first, until his neck can support the weight of his head, anyway. We got a little demonstration last night... hey, get your mind out of the gutter! Sandi the Lactation Consultant (they have conventions and everything) demonstrated how to hold the baby and showed us a picture of proper "latching". Babies can't just chew on a nipple and get fed, they have to get it all the way in the back of their mouth.

I even got a nice little pamphlet with helpful hints on how I, "Dad", can support Mom with the breastfeeding. Some of it is touchy-feely hippie nonsense that I'd never admit to doing, but things like bringing the baby to Red when it time to feed and changing his diaper before of after, burping him, rousing him in the middle of the night, getting her something to drink, looking after him or doing the grocery shopping so Red can rest... that's all stuff I would do anyway. You know, if I wasn't leaving for deployment when he's a few weeks old. He'll be six months old by the time I get back. Talking about this stuff got Red and I both a bit choked up last night, knowing I wasn't going to be there to help. I had to leave the room once. But I didn't cry; I punched myself in the face, wrestled a bear and got right back in there and talked about breast pumps.

But I was also the only man in the room with five pregnant women. The others had said that their husbands had gone to other classes, but decided the breastfeeding class was something their wives could handle without them. I told them I didn't come to make their husbands look bad, and they said, "Oh, but you did make them look bad!" I just want to be involved as much as I can; I'm not happy about missing the first six months, even though all he's going to do is eat, sleep and poop.


Blogger James Manning bloody well said...

Robo, I'm a step-dad so I missed that part. But we're going to have another and I won't miss one thing. I can tell you this, My mini-mom isn't even mine but I've been there since the terrible two's (and it last until they're 4) and it is one of the best things in the world to have a child. The other night she said 'kill the heat, mommy'. That's me. Then one day she said she didn't like the Raiders anymore and wanted to watch the Bears with me (I almost teared up.)

I remember being in the Navy and how guys got upset leaving their kids - just have her send plenty of pictures and video.

But it's when you can see yourself in their actions and in the way they talk that it gets fun. By the way, I don't know if you are having a girl or a boy, but if it's a girl, be prepared. Once they start talking, they never stop.

15 March, 2006 15:45  
Blogger Robosquirrel bloody well said...

Well, we're having a boy, but I already have a 9-year-old daughter. I missed a lot of her infancy, so this is the first time I'm really going to be around. I know what you mean about seeing yourself in them; my daughter is a complete loon sometimes. Drives her mom nuts! :D

We bought a video camera which has the capability to transfer the video to a file for burning to a CD... now I all I have to do is teach Red how to use it.

15 March, 2006 16:02  

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