Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alternadad and Mother Words

Hot-off-the-press, that is, the blogosphere, reviews from Neal Pollack, author of the book, Alternadad, and creator of the blog Offsprung, and Kate Hopper of Mother Words (who, in the midst of battling mastitis still found time to read and write an amazingly long and thoughtful blog about the Baby Bonding Book For Dads).

Some excerpts:
Today is Offsprung’s “virtual tour stop” for The Baby Bonding Book For Dads, which exists to help the clueless, emotionally-distant American male achieve a closer relationship with their loin-products. TBBBFD (for short) is a warm, gently funny volume full of tasteful photographs, which places it in sharp contrast with the screaming, fecal-stained nightmare that makes up most of our parenting experience. Still, dads must bond, on their own terms. I offer some suggestions after the bump.

Watch Your Favorite Movie Together. Yes, your favorite movie is Hellboy. Yes, your child will have a decade of nightmares about the “fish man who sounds like Niles from Frasier,” except that they’ll have no idea what Frasier is. Yes, Hellboy himself is a creature from Bosch-land. But at least they’ll know why daddy sits in his basement every night, drinking whiskey, moaning that he’ll “never write a graphic novel that good, ever.”
The list includes goes on to include things like cross peeing and candy bribes. Read it here.

On a more serious note, Kate writes about the different experiences her husband has had bonding with their two children:
I never worried about D bonding with Stella. He was with her in those moments after she was pulled from me, when the neonatologists were checking her vitals. He was with her after they placed her in an isolette and wheeled her up to the Special Care Nursery, where he sat and spoke to her softly through plastic.

Thirty-six hours later, after the call to my room saying that she was in respiratory distress, D was the one who walked next to her through the long tunnel connecting Abbott Northwestern and Children’s Hospitals. He was the one who read to her in the middle of the night and who changed her diaper when the nurses said it was time.

All the while, I was nauseous, spinning in and out of sleep.

Much later, when we finally brought Stella home, D was the one who could calm her. I was often at a loss. Nursing was frustrating on good days and left me in tears on bad days. Since the moment she received bottles in the hospital, she preferred them to breastfeeding. I ended up pumping and pumping, and D gave her bottles at 11 pm and 5 am each day. There was no question that D and Stella bonded—they bonded immediately.

With Zoe, everything has been different. I missed out on an hour with her as I was being sewn up after my C-section, but we have been together almost constantly since then. She would love nothing more than to spend the day nursing and snoozing in my arms. And since she refuses to take a bottle, D hasn’t been able to feed her, to connect with her the way he connected with Stella. Much of the time we are together as a family is divided—he is playing with Stella and I’m nursing Zoe. I imagine that this is the way it is for many families when the mother is breastfeeding: the other partner feels a little left out.

There are so many books out there for expectant mothers—dare I say too many? But there are few that celebrate fatherhood and the special connection a dad can have with his new baby. I think this book helps fill that gap, and it would be a perfect gift for the expectant dads you know. I even found in it some good reminders for me: don’t feel stuck at home with an infant, take the baby with you and get out of the house! I also had forgotten this: that when a baby “turns her face to the side, she’s probably telling you she’s had enough…” Zoe loves to be on the changing table, kicking her feet and smiling, but I forgot this cue and think I’ve been keeping her “playing” long after she’s grown tired. Oops.
Read the entire entry (it's as awesome and well written as the excerpt) here.

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