It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that once you become pregnant, everyone starts to judge you. Target cashiers have told me that using the Dallas Cowboys pacifier I was purchasing would all but turn my baby into a serial killer. (Was it the team or the pacifier itself? I was too afraid to ask.) I offended a friend when I joked that we’d only be buying products for our child endorsed by Einstein… Baby Einstein, that is. I upset a co-worker because I was eating a roast beef sandwich and drinking a Coke. Mama needs her beef! And I can’t even imagine all the uproar that will ensue when I tell people that my approach to vaccines is “SHOOT ‘EM UP!”
But I expected all of this. What I didn’t expect was the incredulity people expressed when I told them I wanted my husband to be involved with the feeding of our child, even if it meant we’d be supplementing with formula.
This decision has nothing to do with me shirking my duties as a parent. And it’s not a way to somehow coerce my husband into more late nights than are his due. I just really want him to share in the fun of feeding time. When It Comes To Parenting, Give Dad A Chance
I am the oldest of eight children, and my mom breastfed us all, except for my younger brother. He was born three months premature with Down’s syndrome and, as we would discover later, autism. Noah spent the first two months of his little life in the hospital and I wasn’t even allowed to hold him until he was a month old. Because the birth and delivery were so difficult for my mom, Noah was fed formula. And while this was not my mother’s first choice, it did mean that all his older siblings (all seven of us) got to share in feeding time. When he finally came home, my siblings and I literally fought over who got to give Noah his bottle.
I remember what that special feeding time meant to me as a sister, and I know it will mean that much more as a mother. Consequently, I want to share feeding time with my husband. Yes, even if it means supplementing our child’s diet with formula.
Now at the midpoint of my pregnancy, I’ve seen how caring my husband can be, and how excited he is for our new family. He’s taught our child, in utero, how to sing the Twins’ fight song and, right now, we’re working on the Vikings’ song. His face lights up when I tell him how difficult our child was at the last doctor’s appointment. (“Difficult, just like his mother.”) And when the ultrasound technician declared our child to be average, me to be average and this whole pregnancy to be measuring average, he glared and said, “My kid’s better than average. Maybe they need to adjust the curve.” And in that moment of ridiculous helicopter parenting, I decided I couldn’t love him more.
In sum: My husband is going to be a great father and I want to let him be a great father, even if that means sharing the feeding time and other big moments. And yes, even if that means formula. Equally Shared Parenting
Right now, fatherhood is a hot button issue. This summer, President Obama launched the Fatherhood Initiative to help end the epidemic of absent fathers in our country. And study after study shows that the more involved a father is in a child’s life, the better prepared they are for the future. One in three children do not have their biological father present in their life. And I am lucky enough to be with a man who not only wants to be involved in our child’s life, but who is so excited about it he spent 10 minutes in Target debating the relative developmental merits of the different play yards. In the end, we both agreed that if it’s good enough for Baby Einstein, it’s good enough for us.
And we also agree that what goes into the bottle pales in comparison to the fact that the person holding it is loving and actively involved in our child’s life.