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How Do I Not Feel Useless?










QUESTION:

My son is 16 days old, and today I sort of lost it and yelled at him when he was crying for his mother. He's been eating a LOT, and for very short periods, so it seems like he's hungry only minutes after he just fell asleep at the breast. I do what I can for him and his mother, but it seems I'm sort of "on the bench" in this game at the moment. She's the only one who can feed him, and the only one that he seems to want comfort from.

How do I stop feeling utterly useless? He sleeps on me well enough at night, but literally the second he realizes it's me, and he's even the slightest bit hungry (at times it honestly feels like if his stomach is 5% empty, he's screaming bloody murder) he gets really antsy and starts yelling for mommy. I can see the frustration in her eyes, and hear it in her voice, and that just makes me feel worse. I feel like I'm doing all that I can to be whatever he needs, but it's not nearly enough.




ANSWER:

Sixteen days in is the low point for most new parents with a demanding baby. Very frustrating for dads to see a frustrated mom. You have probably already heard that things will get better; which doesn’t help much when you are tired and frustrated.

A few ideas:

  • To comfort him take him on a walk in a stroller around the neighborhood with headphones on. Gives you something to do and gives mom a break.
  • Look for a breastfeeding resource on web (i.e., BabyCenter.com) that can give you and mom ideas as to how to handle his feeding issues.
  • Talk to mom about pumping so you can get in on the feeding; typically at three weeks a baby is sufficiently hooked up breastfeeding wise so a bottle (easier for a baby to feed on) will not screw up the breastfeeding.

Hang in there and you will learn what works with your baby and he will learn that you are a source of comfort as well. BTW, him sleeping on you at night is the gold standard for new fathers; just like we used to do as cave dads. You are definitely doing something right. You also reached out to get some answers; rare for new fathers to do that. Hang in there and think about the cool stuff you can do with your son as he grows up. Let me know if this works for you.

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