After birth, our little one spent three hours on my chest and then one and a half hours on my husband's bare chest while I showered. We were both instant fans of skin-to-skin.
During the five days in the postnatal ward, I was bare-chested the whole time. (In the sunny summer days the ward heated up to what must have been 26 degrees and I was trying to nurse constantly. Clothes were not functional.) My husband joined in: I was laughing when I’d see him come into our curtain-enclosed area after errand runs, ripping off his shirt and demanding his son so that he could proudly put the little one to his bare chest for skin-to-skin. And to my slight dismay I discovered that not having breastfeeding boobs also has its perks: on daddy, the little one was much calmer, more likely to sleep and more likely to be happy to be put in his crib for a snooze to give his parents’ biceps a rest. On mommy, he seemed to be constantly reminded of his hunger and the necessity to feed. Me trying to put him down to sleep must have felt to him like mommy trying to separate him from his food source. He was not having it!
Going forward, it was also daddy who managed with persistence - and out of necessity - to help the little one figure out how to drink from the bottle that was fitted with a special teat that wasn't supposed to interfere with breastfeeding. I myself only managed to bottle feed the little one with a basically free flowing teat which made me fear for the future of our breastfeeding plans. The instructions to the special breastfeeding supporting teat even mentioned that dad might be more successful in having baby accept and figure out how to drink from the teat. And after several months of having the little only sleep on either of our arm, it was daddy who managed to have the little sleep in the crib.
Stepping back and letting daddy do his thing isn't easy - since mommy knows best. What helped was that on several evenings per week, I had to hand over the little one to my husband so that I could coach or join other development calls. During those hours, I couldn't rush back to 'help' my husband even if I heard the little one crying because he was unhappy with the bottle teat or later because he wanted to be nursed to fall asleep.
Several times, I emerged from my coaching session expecting to find my husband at the end of his tether and ready to be told that I should never ever again leave him alone, only to see him beaming at me instead: look what I achieved today! And I would marvel at a well-fed child who had finished a bottle with a high-tech teat, or at a child sleeping peacefully on the couch next to my husband who had two free hands at his disposal to hug me!!!
Thanks to my husband’s experiments and his readiness to push boundaries with our son (and of course thanks to our son's growing maturity), I went from sleeping 4 times one hour per night to sleeping 4 plus 3 plus 2 hours per night.
My unable-to-breastfeed-and-thus-not-smelling-of-food husband is also the one who's sleeps on the side of the bed that has the bed-side crib attached to it. He is much better at holding the little one's hand while both of them drift towards slumber and he is also able to sleep through the quivers, jerks, and sounds that the little one makes in his sleep while I jump at the slightest sigh.
And I'm only able to write this particular blog post because daddy insisted on putting the little one back in his crib after the little angel woke up at 4:30am from a marathon sleep of seven and a half hours! I was ready to concede that after changing and feeding him our day would now start at 5am, but my husband put him back in his crib where the little one looked around wide-eyed and was cooing to himself while daddy was holding his hand. This is never going to work, I thought. But after 30 min I suddenly realized that I hadn't heard a ‘Gurrrrrr’ in a while because little angel was fast asleep. Again, my husband had presented me with a windfall gift of free time to have my thoughts roam, to be inspired, and to write.
Little one is still sleeping! And I must concede to the power of daddy. And I have to remember his achievements when I get annoyed that he is not following mommy's instructions!
What is an area in your life where you could relinquish control? And what would be possible if you did?