Dads, Babywearing, and Silver Linings

Dads Can (& Should!) Wear Babies, Too | The Stir.

The basic premise of the above-linked post is pretty straightforward and uncontroversial.  Basically, it’s that dads should bond with their babies, and babywearing is a good way to do that.  Sadly, lots of dads seem to think that babywearing is “unmanly” or some other nonsense.

I feel lucky that my husband is an enthusiastic babywearer and he is all about daddy-baby bonding.  From the get-go, James has been just as hands-on as I have:  those first few weeks, when it felt like I was nursing constantly, James changed 95% of all the diapers (he had to teach on Mondays, but was home otherwise), in the middle of the night, he went and got Jesse and brought him to our bed to nurse, and then brought him back again, he made sure I had food to eat so I could concentrate on feeding the baby.  I turned to James for advice on all things baby, because he had way more experience going into this than I did, since his younger brother is ten years younger than he is, and he helped a lot when Daniel was little.

When I got pregnant, James was in the end-stages of a PhD program.  His dissertation defense was a month and a half before Jesse was born, and his thesis revisions were turned in the week before I went back to work after maternity leave.  The plan had originally been for him to finish up a couple of months earlier, but bed rest derailed those plans — instead of powering through his thesis revisions and pounding the pavement looking for jobs, he spent a lot of time keeping me company, keeping me hydrated (despite the ever-increasing amount of water I was supposed to imbibe — he definitely had his work cut out for him!) and taking care of all of the household chores.  It was a lot of work, and his job search got understandably delayed.

During the summer I was pregnant, we looked at bunch of different daycares, got on waiting lists, and hoped that we a) would need a spot (because that would need James would have a job) and b) one of our top two choices would have a spot for us.  We got incredibly lucky, and our top choice offered us a spot a month into my maternity leave, but there was no job on the horizon for James.  We had no choice but to decline the spot.

At the time, I was kind of annoyed that we’d gone to all the site visits, filled out applications, etc.  It felt like we wasted our time and the daycare’s time.  Fast forward nine months.  James still doesn’t have a job (so turning down the daycare spot was definitely the right move!) but James and Jesse have had nine months to spend together.  When James was out of town for a job interview a couple of weeks ago, it was obvious that Jesse really missed him, and the look of delight when he saw him come home was priceless.  They have their own silly games, James understands Jesse in a way nobody else could, and it’s just been a wonderful silver lining to his unemployment.  They’ve bonded in a way that I don’t think they would have been able to if James were working out of the house full-time.  Of course, it’s still possible for working dads to bond with their kids, but this week I’ve been thinking about how very special it has been for them to get to spend all this extra time together.

In the summer, we both decided that wearing the baby was just too warm, but now that the air has a chill in it, we’re both back to wearing Jesse more often, and James does that just as much as I do.  He may not have my need to “carrier-hop” and collect a bunch of different baby carriers, but he did get a woven wrap for his birthday, and I know that wrap will get a lot of use in the years to come as he holds our son close.

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