Friday, June 20, 2008


There is a very well known series of books called "What to expect..." Every month of Nicole's pregnancy I read the corresponding chapter of "What to Expect When You're Expecting." I also read the spoof, "What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding," a light-hearted read for soon-to-be Dads.

Now that Jackson has arrived, I conveniently filed "What to Expect The First Year" in the reference area of my library, located on the left side of my toilet bowl. Earlier today, while I was deep in, uh, thought I read away that the pages that seemed most appropriate to Jackson's current stage of life. On page 115, I came across a boxed section in the upper-right hand corner of the page labeled: FOR FATHERS ONLY: BECOMING ENGROSSED. It sounded important.

Apparently, research has given a name to the bonding that takes place between an infant and a father. Engrossment in a nutshell is the things a father does for his baby (holding, comforting, rocking, massaging), the different way a father does such things (different touches and sounds), and the things that a baby does for the father, such as bringing out the sensitive and nurturing side.

Naturally, I am engrossed. This absolutely goes without saying. From the second I saw Jackson, I couldn't take my eyes off of him. After our first hour together in the delivery room, they took him away from me for 4 hours, and there wasn't a second that I didn't pace, waiting for him to return. Over the last few days, I have on more than one occasion mentioned that I do not really like holding, playing with, or caring for other people's children, or OPC.

In fact, OPC usually disgust me. Don't get me wrong. I think they are cute, wonderful and amazing in their own way. However, I have no desire to entertain, help, or give to them anything more then minimal attention. Jackson on the other hand, well, completely has me squarely in his half-dollar sized palm. I could hold him for hours through miserable back pain, and I have. I immediately want to be there to make his crying go away, and I think he already knows this. I would spend the rest of my days wiping his little poopy ass, sacrificing everything else in my life that I love, and I think he kinda gets a kick out of it.

This morning, Jackson woke up at around 6:30 and he just wouldn't go back to sleep after a feeding. Nicole needed more rest, so I decided that it was going to be Daddy-Baby time. We slipped into a recliner in the living room, and kicked back with Jackson resting on my chest. His cries immediately disappeared as he fell asleep. We chilled out and watched a movie called Super High Me, a twist on the Morgan Spurlock documentary Super Size Me, in which the stand-up comedian Doug Benson, smokes Marijuana for 30 days straight to test the results on this body and mind. Basically, the movie is a protest against the prohibition against pot in the United States. Jackson, being in his own breast milk high just slept away, caring not for the political views of a bunch of hippies.

There was one really interesting point in the movie that I thought was particularly sad. An advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana said that the majority of adults who get involved in heavy drugs (not pot) didn't have their father involved in their lives during their childhood. What a shame, I thought. Then I started to think about engrossment. How can a father experience what I feel for Jackson, and then disappear? It just doesn't make sense. The only explanation that I can fathom is that those fathers don't stick around long enough to become engrossed, or they have some mental defect that prevents them from experiencing this magical feeling. I feel sad for the OPC, and the fathers that don't experience this bond, and I can promise my Jackson that as long as I am alive, he will never know a life without his father's presence and unconditional love.

1 comment:

Miss Kate said...

I think about this every so often in regard to my own family. Granted its a little different. But I know how engrossed I am with my little man and I can see my family is as well.

Terry had to leave Wyatt. Wyatt was less than a month old when Terry's leave was up and he had to go back to Afghanistan. Right before he left, you chould visably see him retract. He didn't hold or interact with Wy as much. It was like he had to seperate in order to handle it emotionally. They call it compartmentalizing.

Can you possibly imagine how difficult that must have been? I can't. Imagine seeing, holding, cherishing, loving this little person only to know you were going to miss out on so much. That you had to leave. Its crazy.

Terry will be home in September. Wyatt will be 7 months. I am waiting to see the engrossment start all over again.

Love your blog...keep posting!