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The Father Factor:
Fatherhood Matters

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Don't Fumble the Baby...

Last week, I had an opportunity to speak at a briefing hosted by Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL). The purpose of the briefing was to present these findings of the Commission on Paternal Involvement in Pregnancy Outcomes, a project of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. A key aspect of the commission is to determine ways to reduce infant mortality, which is surprisingly high in the US.

As a member of the commission, I had an opportunity to share a pretty personal perspective on how, as a very new dad, I first learned just how important fathers are to the health and well-being of infants. A reporter wrote this story about my remarks. Are you ready for some football?

First Day of Day Care

This morning, my wife and I dropped off three-month-old Vinny for his first day in day care. It is also, of course, my wife's first day back at work since January. It was an emotional morning, especially for my wife. Really, this episode highlights one of the differences between moms and dads.

For the most part, I was excited to see the little guy in a new environment with all kinds of new things and people to learn about. I, of course, was a little sad to be leaving him with someone other than mom, who has been the greatest caretaker he will ever have.

But while I was "a little sad," my wife was very sad. There were tears. She is going to miss the baby very much. She has been caring for him every day and night for three months, and now someone else is going to be in charge of that. I imagine she is going through some very complex emotions right now. I did my best to comfort her, but I know it is going to take a few days, or even weeks, for her to get used to leaving her "prince" in someone else's hands.

Or maybe she will never get used to it. In fact, it is probably a healthy sign for a mother to always believe that she is her own baby's best nurturer. After all, I would not want to live in a society that is too comfortable with the idea of parents offhandedly leaving their children for other people to take care of in their place.

For now, we simply understand that this is an economic reality for our family that we both have to work. Fortunately, the baby is in very caring hands. But it still does not make it easy...

Does anyone remember the first day they left their little one in day care? Any stories?

Lifelong Commitment

Mike Yudt, NFI's Director of Donor Relations, and his wife, Kelly, just welcomed their second child, Joshua. Mike shares his thoughts on his growing family and meeting his little guy:

How quickly things can happen…

The Great "Milestone Marathon"

If there is one thing I have learned about babies in my first two months as a father is that they change --- fast! Since I am out of the house at work for about 10 hours every day, the changes in my now two-month-old son, Vinny, appear to be taking place at a supernatural rate. Even my wife, who spends all day every day with him, can't believe how fast he is changing.

Right now, the categories of change are in "physical size" and "level of interaction and alertness."

As for physical size, the little tyke came home from the hospital on January 17 weighing 5 lbs. 9 ounces. He has nearly doubled his weight in less than two months. Yep - he weighs about 11 pounds now. I will hold him for a few minutes in the morning before I leave for work, and then when I get home 10 hours later and lift him, I nearly dislocate my rotator cuff due to the "surprise" extra pound the kid put on during the day. What is my wife feeding him?


As for his level of interaction and alertness, he is making similar leaps and bounds. It seems overnight he went from staring blankly into space (or the nearest light bulb) to intense, sustained eye contact that would make a wolf blush. And when he is not sleeping or eating, he wants to be entertained. If you are not in his face (a la Earl Weaver arguing with an umpire) talking and singing and making weird noises, he will cry (or scream) to get your attention. He now smiles, and makes cooing sounds and other new faces that only a few days ago would have been the result of gas. Now they are "real." The pressure is on - I have to force myself to be entertaining whenever the little guy needs it!

Well, before I know it, I will be coming home to him playing cards in the basement with his buddies.

All that said, he still is a tiny baby who mostly eats, sleeps, and messes up diapers, but with each passing day, he makes noticeable strides towards college graduation. It is time to open up that 529 plan....

Becoming a Dad!

Here in my 8th year at National Fatherhood Initiative, I am on the verge of becoming a dad for the first time. My wife, Claudia, and I are expecting our first baby any day now. Perhaps any hour now! Just this morning, my wife was having contractions. They do not appear to be the "real thing," but a definite pre-cursor to the big moment.

I will do my best to chronicle my experiences of becoming a dad here on The Father Factor.

In this post, I wanted to point out something that I had heard about in the abstract for many years, but now know to be true -- it is difficult for expectant fathers to feel connected to their coming baby. In the least, it is much more difficult for fathers than it is for mothers.

Even now, when we are probably hours or a few days away from having the baby, it still feels very abstract to me. I have read books, designed and decorated the nursery, gone through exercises and videos, seen the baby on several ultrasounds, but I know that this is not really going to hit me until the moment the baby comes out and is handed to me and my wife.

That, from what I have heard from other dads, is when the light switch flips on and you really know you are a dad.

In the meantime, I think my favorite activity during the pregnancy (aside from seeing the ultrasounds) was decorating the nursery. I hung a chair rail and, with my dad's help, put up a mural of a Beatrix Potter-inspired scene. Here is a picture:


Stay tuned - it is likely my next post will be from the hospital right after the birth!

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