|From here: http://www.artofmanliness.com|
You could make the case that the benefits of all of that outweigh the negatives, and that the advantages gained are enough to make it so that the dad, who doesn't go through any of the above, gets a bit of a raw deal. I would imagine there are a decent number of men out there who would be willing to do all the things a mom has to do just to form that bond with their child.
It's a slippery slope, really. I can't imagine there are many women who would give up the relationship they have with their child just so they don't have to go through all the hard times. I would also imagine that it depends on when you ask these theoretical women.
All that said, there is one aspect of raising a baby that only the non-birth mothers will truly understand: taking care of your kid without breasts (or without breasts that produce milk, as the case may be).
Here's the thing: If Nicole wants to calm Appleseed down or even put him to sleep, she has a trump card. Granted, she can't play it all the time, but it's there if she needs it. When Appleseed is screaming bloody murder, she has a secret weapon (well, two).
I have no secret weapons. I have no trump card.
So I dance like the monkey I am, doing everything I can possibly think of to calm Appleseed down. I hold in him in every position imaginable. I bounce on the exercise ball. I walk around the house. I put him in the stroller and roll him around the house. I put him in the rock and play, the bouncer, the swing, you name it. It is freaking exhausting (particularly the exercise ball).
The other day I spent a good fifteen minutes on the exercise ball trying to calm him down before I had to stop, because full bladder + bouncing up and down meant I was going to piss myself soon. So I put him down in the rock and play and ran off to the bathroom (Nicole was at the doctor). As I peed like a race horse, I heard Appleseed unleash a cry that, up until this point, I didn't know existed. It was unbelievable. And there was nothing I could do to stop it, not right then and there. He was just going to have to let it out for a bit (while I did the same).
I ran back and picked him up. Just being picked up was enough to get him to quiet down, but that only brought me back to where I was before -- with a baby who was on the verge. I sat down on the couch and held him, happy enough, at this point, that he was no longer screaming bloody murder.
And then a funny thing happened: he started to calm down. His breathing slowed down. His eyes slowly began to close. Within five minutes, he was sound asleep.
I can only imagine that the minute or two in the rock and play had upset him so much that being in my arms suddenly felt like paradise. I had inadvertently made it so bad for him that just being held was the greatest comfort in the world.
When Nicole came home, he was still sleeping in my arms, not just because it was a wonderful experience for me, but because I was afraid to move.
I often feel guilty that I can't do more to take care of Appleseed, that there are certain things he will always rely on his mom for, certain things I just can't give him. I feel guilty because I feel like I'm not doing my fair share. I try to make up for it by taking care of Nicole.
And there are times when I'm thankful that I'm not in Nicole's position because it seems torturous, and then I feel guilty for feeling that way.
So I will continue making food, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, taking care of the cats, and going to work, because it's the least I can do for this amazing child and my wonderful wife. Hopefully, that will alleviate at least a little bit of the guilt.