Hello, Mort. Congratulations on the birth of your son. I’m glad to hear that he’s a healthy, early baby.
As so many dads talk about (which no one ever tells us going into parenthood), taking care of a needy little infant, isn’t that much fun or satisfying. As I’ve said in other posts, it’s not always easy to “enjoy” an infant (in fact, it may be more the exception than the rule). They’re demanding creatures and rarely obviously appreciative. That’s truism is even more true when the baby is premature.
As you’ve already learned, preemies are tough. In fact, preemies and other babies with special needs are one of the “risk factors” for paternal postnatal depression (one of the things that can lead to depression in new dads). If you haven’t already, Mort, I’d suggest that you also check out some web sites for parents of preemies – such as www.preemies.org
, and www.preemie.info
I’ve also mentioned in previous posts that bonding between fathers and their babies tends to develop more slowly than the bonding between mothers and babies (which typically develops very quickly). For new fathers it can take up to two months or so. BUT WITH PREEMIES, BONDING CAN TAKE MUCH LONGER – both for the mother and the father.
Now, I have to be clear about one thing: that nurse who talked to your wife is full of “bull” – and spreading misinformation. Plenty of new (human) fathers feed their babies. In fact, it’s one of the best ways – recommended by most educated health professionals – for new parents to tag team feedings so that the new mom can get a chunk of sleep (particularly when dad does one of the nighttime feedings). This can make things better for everyone. Remember, if a man’s partner ends up depressed, that doubles the chance that he’ll become depressed too.
That said, the fact is many dads CAN’T help with feedings – or with diaper changing or putting the baby to sleep – for one reason or another. (The same is true for some mothers.) And that’s just the reality.
If you’re not able to that right now, it’s great that you know it. It’s far better for you and your baby to stay away from these duties right now if you can. And there’s no reason to beat yourself up about it – that’s not going to help anyone, least of all yourself. Chances are, there’s going to be a time in the not-to-distant future when you can help out with some of these things. As RS, says, what you’re experiencing now is temporary.
RS, made some other great points too, including not trying to control things. And taking things one baby step at a time.
Best wishes to you and your family!