Newborns don’t sleep well. They’re designed that way. They need to eat often and they find their new environment outside the womb unsettling. My husband and I, who when childless started our Sundays by shuffling into champagne brunch at around 10:30 am, then came home to nap, could not have possibly been prepared for the heaping pile of exhaustion parenthood was about to serve us.
My husband is great for so many things. Aside from being the sweetest guy and the greatest dad, he exclusively picks up dog poop, makes amazing eggs, and has exceptional taste in greeting cards. While he is fantastic in so many ways, he (like many husbands) does not do well when exhausted.
We were in the thick of it. “It” being that special time of newborn life when we actually made a trip to Starbucks before it opened. When we had to look outside to see if it was day or night and each of us was guilty of falling asleep on the toilet at least once. We tried the Moby Wrap, the MamaRoo, the Rock and Play; our living room was almost identical to aisle 6 of Babies R Us (RIP). Despite all this, sleep was usually elusive to all 3 of us.
One night, my husband and I were asleep with the baby in the bassinet next to him. She started to fuss and I wasn’t ready to nurse so I patted his arm, “Babe, give the baby her paci, please.” Grunt, head turn, snort, back to sleep. I tap his chest, “BABE, the baby needs her paci…” Lifts his head, looks at me with a furrowed brow, flops back to sleep. Baby’s fussing escalates to full blown crying. “BABE. SERIOUSLY? GIVE HER THE PACI!” This is when he reaches over slapping his giant hand onto my forehead. He then proceeds to rub, tap, and fondle my facial features until he locates my mouth and inserts his index and middle finger to “soothe” me. Unable to back away due to the mattress beneath me, I start shaking my head, choking through his fingers “What the hell?!?” Then he whisper shouts “I’M JUST TRYING TO HELP YOU AND YOU’RE BEING RUDE.” In summary, he didn’t help the baby, he violated my mouth and he insulted me. He found all of this very amusing the next morning.
My story is not unique. The internet is riddled with examples such as these. Well meaning, exhausted dads doing really bizarre (and usually hilarious) things. I think it’s a combination of smartphones at our fingertips, and dads taking a more active role than in generations past. There was a viral Instagram video recirculated by The Daily Mail in September 2018 of a new dad in Hawaii rocking and snuggling an empty bath robe while the baby’s mother held the newborn safely in her arms.
Then there was the story Zach Galifianakis told on Jimmy Kimmel about staying up for an hour pushing his baby back and forth in the stroller downstairs only to be told by his wife that his baby was upstairs asleep in his crib.
Suffice to say, as much as we love them for trying, dads just don’t seem to function as effectively under the dire circumstances newborn-hood often brings. When I’m overtired, I’m not a pleasant person to be around. I can get downright hateful but I’m certain that I’ve never attempted to nurse inanimate objects or swaddle the cat. Ah, to each their own. Cheers, friends.