I like to think that at 21 months, Ben and I share a great bond that will last us the rest of our lives. Now I’m sure there will be times that both of our patience with each other will be tested; however, I feel like in the end our bond will come out on top. With that said I often find myself thinking back to when Ben was born and wondering: How the hell did I pull that off?
Leading up to Ben’s birth, Kim, in my eyes, was the child expert between the two of us. She seemed like she had it all figured out (and really, she did), reading and researching into things that would make my son enjoy the quality of life he has today. Me? I spend most of my time gaming, watching TV, exercising (sometimes?) and listening to Kim explain all these wonderful ideas she wanted to do with/for Ben and getting my opinion (sometimes!). Sure, I would read things here and there but not very often. I really just planned on flying by the seat of my pants figuring Kim would be there to guide me every step of the way. She’d take the lead, I’d follow and eventually figure out what I was doing.
Anyone who knows about Kim’s child birth experience knows that it was less than ideal; leaving Kim out of commission for months after Ben was born. So there I was, not alone; but forced to play the leading role in the first few months of my son’s life while Kim recovered. In my opinion, this is the reason why my bond with Ben is so strong.
I remember being frightened to death when the nurse told me I would be cup feeding the baby for a while, until Kim and Ben got into their groove and the breastfeeding started going smoothly. Me? Feed the baby? With a cup? Did we not bring any bottles…why didn’t we bring any bottles? What if I give him too much? What if he chokes and dies? Geez, am I even ready for this?
It’s funny, life has a way of throwing you into situations you’re ready for even though your brain (and fear) have you trying to run away from things as fast as you can. As you can tell, Ben is still alive (hurray!). Did I put too much food in his mouth from the cup once or twice? Yup! Guess what, he survived. In fact, he’d probably laugh at the panicked look on my face when he spit out what he couldn’t handle and drank what he could.
I’d say the cup feeding was best thing that helped develop my confidence in being a father. Being tossed right in to the fray, being forced to overcome challenges I didn’t expect to deal with and providing for my son really got my father-engine going. I figured “Hey, if I can survive that, I can survive anything,” and really just put my best foot forward.
If anyone, as a father is looking to figure out how to develop that bond, I’d say feeding your child is a great place to start. I’m no expert in bonding with a newborn, it just worked for me. Other things I feel worked for me are: putting Ben to bed every night, bathing him every night and getting up with him in the morning. I feel like these things are especially important if your wife stays home with the baby all day. If your child associates fun things with you (like waking up and having breakfast or tub time) then your relationship can only stay positive.
I realize that I can’t do everything the same with my second child as I did with Ben because I can’t just ignore Ben. He has needs too. The only thing I can say about the second child is that I’m not going to spend time second guessing myself. I already know I can be a good father and, even though I’m not sure how I’ll do it, I’ll make sure this new child and I have a bond just as strong as Ben and I.
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