Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Father

Book review; A Fathers Journey by Mary Kay

The first few weeks and months as a new dad can be a scary time, as I’ve written before I found it difficult bonding with Matilda during this period. I didn’t have much time off work and the lady of the manor was breastfeeding so finding regular opportunities for quality time wasn’t easy. Something we discussed recently was whether baby massage could have been/could be a useful tool for this, not only would it help Matilda relax etc it also would be something I could do. But this was as far as we went with the idea.

A Father's Journey.inddA new book called book called Baby Massage Experience with My Father; A Fathers Journey by Mary Kay is due to be released on 24th September and I’m fortunate to have a pre-release copy to read. The book is based on the experiences of the author and is about a couple becoming new parents. The father Mike has no experience of babies, lacks any confidence even in holding his daughter and ultimately struggles to bond with her. Both his mother and mother in law come to stay when the baby is born and their old school approach to being a parent whereby a father isn’t involved in the baby’s upbringing further fuels his feeling of being disconnected and unneeded. Add in a mother trying to cope with a lack of sleep and hormones flying round her body (starting to sound familiar) and you are quickly heading for a big problem unless support is provided.

This arrives in the form of their health visitor who suggests joining a baby massage class as a couple. To cut a long story short this finally provides Mike the opportunity to interact with his daughter in a supportive environment and gradually gives him the confidence to look after his daughter and a regular chance to bond with her.

The topics that this book covers are something that I’m passionate about, the common theme throughout is that dads are generally ignored when it comes to providing pre and post natal support. There are very few councils or NHS Trusts that provide any classes or support programs that even include dads let alone are focused on them. I’ve lost count of the number of activities the lady of the manor has taken part in, which not only provide her with skills and knowledge but also the opportunity to meet other mothers and build a support network. This just doesn’t exist today for most dads.

In a world where fathers are now expected (rightly so) to be part of their children’s upbringing and where both parents or just the mother even may work these support systems are essential. So reviewing this book I may be a little bias, but despite this if all new parents could read a copy then it would probably help both mum and dad realise they are not alone in how they feel and that baby massage could perhaps be a good medium for bringing about change.

I will be honest and say that I don’t think this book is going to win any literary awards, it seems to jump a little bit between being written in purely a factual style to being more like a piece of fiction. However the author captures well the emotions that both parents feel at each stage of the story. It isn’t a long book which I think is good, it has enough content to do justice to the story and communicate clearly the main points however it doesn’t delve into the precise medical detail behind issues. Both of these mean that it is more likely to be read (if you’re feeling stressed as a parent the last think you want to do is read 300 pages) while still capturing the essence of the situation.

So would I recommend it? I think I probably would, it addresses a very real issue for new parents today and would help new dads to realise that there are things they can do if they feel lost or helpless. It provides an insight into what baby massage involves and how it can benefit babies and parents alike.

If you are interested in ordering a copy you can find it on the M2BN publishing website here.

I cannot finish writing about this topic and support for dads without mentioning Dean from Daddy Natal. Dean is the only male qualified ante-natal educator in the UK and runs classes just for men and is constantly campaigning for local authorities to provide better (or any) support for dads.

This is a sponsored post, I was given a free copy of the book to review but have not been given any instructions on what to say. All the opinions here are my own.

Becoming dad

I’d been meaning to write this post for a while, but was finally motivated to do it when reading this post by Mothers always right. Firstly this post is not intended to in any way to belittle how tough it is being a mum and what an amazing role mums perform, the lady of the manor is proof of that. But often I think it is overlooked how hard it can be for a new dad and I speak here from my personal perspective over the past 9 weeks since Matilda was born.

It begins in the delivery suite, if you want a definition of a man feeling helpless it is this moment, you can be supportive and motivating all day but ultimately you have to sit back and watch in awe as your lady takes care of business so to speak.  You are stripped of any opportunity to ‘be a man’ or demonstrate any of the qualities that we have evolved to have. You almost feel a little surplus to requirements.

Then you get home and the adrenaline and excitement wears off leaving you with the sleep deprived reality of the situation. Matilda was being breast fed so my role was tea boy, nappy changer and baby pacifier whenever she was crying. Fun times, although it was alright because I had all that paternity leave to get to know her right? Well those 2 days passed pretty quickly and then it was back to work (yes I know you can take 2 weeks on statutory pay, but who can afford to do that?).

Back to work and back to leaving the house at 7am 5 days a week and getting home at 6.30pm. The lady of the manor has done such a good job getting her settled in a routine, unfortunately that does mean that she’s asleep when I get home. I get a cuddle at 11pm when I do a dream feed, but that’s not really an opportunity to bond is it? I’m slowly becoming precisely the dad that I said I never would. One who doesn’t know how to look after his children or know their routine and what they need. I want to be the dad that knows exactly how to cheer his little girl when she cries, who knows what her favourite food is and one that reads her a bedtime story every night.

On Thursday I worked from home and realised what I’m missing, Matilda sat laughing and gurgling while the lady of the manor chatted to her. My little girl is changing every day and I hate the fact that she wouldn’t smile for my like she did for the lady of the manor. So I need to change, I need to start spending time playing and interacting with her whenever I can. I need to forget the to-do list and jobs around the house and just relax, not something that I’m always very good at. A portion of the weekend needs to become dad time so we can have some quality time together. Today being father’s day I did exactly that (after a small lie in of course), a fabulous cuddle on the sofa with my wee girl and the Brackster (who never passes up the opportunity for a cuddle).

Some other changes may be needed in the future if I’m going to be the dad that I really want to be, but for now this will do. My little girl smiles at me as I enter the room, what more can a man ask for?