Richer for His Love
By Beth Moscov
Santa Barbara CA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 14 No. 6, November-December 1997, pp. 173-174
"Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby's father. A father's unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child's development from early infancy."
As my young son has grown through the first year of his life, I have felt again and again the truth of this statement, one aspect of La Leche League's basic philosophy. Jonathan was present at the home water birth of our son, Samual Isaac. I had a very intense back labor that seemed to last forever. With every contraction, Jonathan was there, looking me in the eyes, staying present with me and holding me. When Sam was born, Jonathan cried thankfully.
In the weeks that followed, Jonathan made sure I ate when I forgot, got me innumerable glasses of water, sang to the baby (funny, only the Hebrew songs seemed to calm Sam down and I don't speak Hebrew), and any number of things to help me spend more time with our newborn. We soon figured out that for us, nighttime parenting was easiest if I cared for Sam in the main body of the night. Once Sam decided it was morning, Jonathan would get up with him to let me sleep a few uninterrupted hours.
Jonathan was always there for me. He pulled through with extra chores when I was so exhausted that I needed to sleep with Sam instead of fitting in just one more task. Early one morning, I tried to wash the dishes. Perhaps I used a little too much pressure, or maybe the glass had a crack, but it broke in my hand and cut me badly enough to leave a scar. I was so flustered that I called Jonathan at work. In tears, I told him what had happened. He decided to come home, bandaged my hand, put me to bed, and finished the dishes!
Jonathan helped me breastfeed directly. I suffered from a serious case of sore nipples. I have a tendency not to ask for help even when I need it, so I let it go for much longer than I should have. My nipples had reached the point of being cracked and bleeding. One night, as Sam latched on, I was in tears. I said I didn't know how I could go on. I had nursed my daughter without this problem and I couldn't seem to figure it out. I had heard my local Leader, Mindy, talk to other mothers and I tried to do what she recommended but I never spoke up myself. Jonathan told me to call Mindy. I said I couldn't and made an excuse. Finally, he dialed for me and handed me the phone. The suggestions I received from Mindy made a big and immediate difference. Sam had been sliding down off the nipple and just nursing at the tip after the first few minutes. It took a while to teach him to stay on and he still gets lazy on rare occasions, but I would not have recognized this problem if Jonathan hadn't made me call for help.
From the beginning, Jonathan has had a special relationship with his son. He sings to Sam, plays with him, and has been teaching Sam to play Middle Eastern percussion (just like Daddy!). They share a love of music, and it thrills me to see Sam crawl at high speed over to "his" drum whenever Daddy picks up the big drum. They have recently begun riding bikes together with Sam nestled between Jonathan's arms in his front bike seat. They talk as they ride, with Sam saying such words of wisdom as "Bah," "nya," and "guh." Jonathan builds Web pages for the Internet as part of his work. Sam has his own Web page now with a beautiful picture of the two of them and a lovely poem Jonathan wrote about the experience of becoming a father.
My job is joyful because of my husband. He does more than make it possible for me to be home with Sam. He loves his son and supports me in my parenting choices. He tries to teach our friends who are expecting children about the importance of breastfeeding and has been known to give my name to pregnant women he meets. He makes sure I have a little time to myself to think (such a luxury with a baby under a year). He holds me when I cry from frustration and tries not to take it personally when I yell at him at odd hours of the night simply because I don't know what else to do when Sam has been up too many times. Sam's life, and mine, are richer for his love.