I am the most useless dad. That is how it can feel around here with a newborn that is solely breast-feeding. I feel extremely useless. Max eats every 2-3 hours and every minute in between he is either sleeping or looking for the breast. Whenever he is confronted with a person that is not the breast (me) he erupts into screams of displeasure. My son cries and I cannot soothe him. I cannot provide him with what he wants. I can only occupy him…briefly. While my brain knows that Max is only 12 days old and is pretty much an eating, pooping, and sleeping machine that doesn’t understand anything going on around him…my heart sinks every time he cries in my arms. He kicks, punches the air, and screams bloody hell as if he were being shaken upside down. He doesn’t understand love and hate…yet I feel like he hates me.
I’ve read about this. I know this is extremely common. My father felt this way. I have spoken to tons of other men who felt the same way. I am a problem solver that cannot provide a solution for Max…at least I personally cannot provide the solution because the solution is Mom. It literally tears my heart out. It frustrates me to the point of wanting to say “I hate you too!” However, he doesn’t hate me. He’s only 12 days old. He’s frustrated by everything. I know this…but I still feel completely helpless.
I can’t even be loving with my wife because she is now property of Maxwell Vincent Gates. Move in for some mom and dad time and you can bet Max will be waking up and screaming. We are breast-feeding, diaper changing, zombies. The family has all gone home…its just us now…and it is hard work. I feel guilty every time Kate changes a diaper, wakes up to feed Max in the middle of the night, or makes a meal. I am utterly useless. Frustrated. Deflated. It is the single most frustrating thing in the world…I feel like a terrible dad.
Then Max will smile at me, sleep on my chest, and squeeze my finger. I love being a dad again. He’s loving to me 5% of the time I am with him and yet I love him unconditionally. The question is how long can a person endure only 5% before they feel completely rejected. I feel like I did in an old college relationship…unable to tell up from down and feeling used up. I am tired…not from lack of sleep…from a rollercoaster of emotions.
In a few weeks we will start bottles and soothers. I hope this will enable me to participate more with my son. On a plus note he is very healthy, in the 90th percentile for height, and sleeps for up to 4-5 hours at a time at night. Last night he slept in his crib for the first time for over 2 hours. Mom and Dad spooned and it was glorious. I am madly in love with him…I just get discouraged from time to time and have to excuse myself from the situation, adjust my train of thought, and rejoin the experience.
Max is going to be my ultimate lesson in patience, which has been my greatest nemesis in life.