Monday, February 28, 2011

The Stay-At-Home Dad Journey Begins

Jen went back to work today. And I am staying home with Nolan, our 2 month, 3 week old boy. Right now he is sleeping, so I'm getting lots done...even writing a blog post!

Background Info
Many of our friends know that Jen and I have relatively conservative views on family management. Jen wants to stay at home with the children, and I want to be the sole breadwinner. These are the roles that we talked about before we got married and we knew that it would work very well for us since we didn't disagree. We plan on having lots of kids in the future. Probably around 4 biological kids and then who knows how many more foster kids after that. We have this idea of practicing on our own and then having some experience before taking on foster children. All in all, we love kids and we want our home to be very plentiful and [hopefully] fruitful.

Why Is This Happening?
When we found out we were pregnant with Nolan, I was just finishing up my masters degree in teaching without a job, and Jen just got hired at a great job. Fast forward to Nolan's birth, and Jen took maternity leave while I was in the middle of a long-term substitute position teaching middle school math and science. Fast forward to now, and my teaching position has ended and Jen's maternity leave has also ended. What to do? Jen can't quit her job because I don't have full-time work. I could try to do full-time subbing while Jen stays home, but that would be an unwise plan for deciding how to provide for my family. We ended up deciding that I would get a taste of what a stay-at-home parent goes through, and Jen would get a taste of what it is like to be away from one's child for the majority of the day.

What I Hope To Learn
I am hoping to realize that being a stay-at-home parent is harder than it seems. Especially when it comes to feeding my boy, because up until this point he has been used to breastfeeding, and now we are trying to get him to take a bottle (which has been only partially successful up to this point). Only once have I tried to get him to take a bottle when Jen was out running errands, and that was a screaming failure. We'll see how it goes for the second run when he wakes up!
I hope to discover techniques to be more efficient.
I hope to identify with the emotional drain being at home with a baby can have on a person.
I hope to gain a greater respect for stay-at-home parents and come to a better understanding that this is a full-time job.

What I Am Comfortable With
Because I have been helping Jen out so much with the basic day-to-day chores that come with taking care of a baby, I feel very comfortable with many duties: Holding him, singing to him, talking to him, dressing him, changing diapers (even blowouts), sucking out boogers, burping him, taking his temperature, and [most importantly] figuring out why he is crying. It has been extremely helpful to have a few weeks of paternity leave to learn the various responsibilities of caring for a baby.

Biggest Challenges
I believe that the hardest thing for me to deal with is the bloodcurdling screams that I am likely to get when he wants the breast rather than the bottle. I am prepared to be as patient as possible and will force myself to put him down and go to another room for a breather if I get frustrated. We'll see how I handle it. The only other thing I can think of is cooking. I told Jen that I would cook dinner at least twice a week (I hate cooking, by the way), so I need to find some motivation to do that with a cheerful heart.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I am very thankful to have this opportunity to learn more about my son and what it takes to be a stay-at-home father. Maybe I'll even learn something I never expected to. I'm trying to keep an open mind about it, since it is a new experience for me.

Please pray I don't drop him.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Diaper Love

My son just peed on me. And he didn't even think it was funny!

There is very little interaction between him and I. The majority of the interaction between us is when I change his diaper, when I burp him, when I put him to bed, and when I have him sleep on me.

And what does he do? He stares at the lamp.

There's not much I can do right now regarding being a father, other than being sacrificial. I have to sacrifice my time, my pleasures, and my life to serve him. He can't do it on his own, so that's how I show my love for him. When he gets older, I can show him love through more interesting stuff like teaching him, training him, having conversations with him, guiding him, and leading him to be the man that he ought to be.

So, for now, I'll keep changing his diapers, hoping that one day his conversations will be much more interactive and two-sided as he grows up to be a man that loves God. Lord willing. I pray.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Being a Birth Partner

Being a birth partner is more than what you just read in a book.

She started having contractions. This was labor. I drove Jen to the hospital on the morning of December 16th, 2010, not with a panicked craze, but with an excited nervousness. We made our way up to the maternity floor of the hospital ("it's on the 3rd floor because you leave with three people" was a common mnemonic device we heard). As we entered our delivery room in the very early morning, we noticed the complete darkness that loomed outside our window.

Then, as Jen and I waited in silence for each succeeding contraction, I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to finish reading my book about how to be a good birth partner for my pregnant wife. Was I prepared enough? Would I fail as her support? Would our memory of Nolan's birth be Daddy screwing up?

Instead of worrying about it, I decided to just take it one step at a time.

"Do you want anything to eat?" I asked her as we put down our bags.

"No thanks," she replied. "Not really hungry."

"Okay. How about some music?" I suggested.

"That sounds good. You know what I want to listen to."

I pulled out my laptop and turned on Christmas music as we started to settle into our room. From that point onward, I realized that preparing to be my wife's birth partner started long ago. It started when our relationship began. All it took was getting to know her, what her needs are, loving her, and being by her side throughout labor. And...trying my best not to annoy her...after all, she's in enough pain already.