Women Write



Mom's From Venus,
Dad's . . . in Orbit

You've heard that having a babychanges your life--but who knew it left couples withtwo different views of the universe? A his-and-hers guide to the first-year milestones.

By Susan Stewart  ("Parenting" magazine, June/July 1995)


THE BIRTH

Mom's View

The longest 12 hours of her life.  Alone in a dark jungle of pain, she barely notices the baby, much less the spouse.  She thinks he may have fainted.

Dad's View

The greatest experience of his life.  Demonstrating strength, sensitivity, and fabulous coaching skills, he practically delivers the baby himself.



THE MOMENT OF BONDING

Mom's View

Takes place immediately after birth, when baby is placed on her chest and gazes at her (nipple) longingly.

Dad's View

Takes place at three months, when baby first fits into miniature White Sox uniform and is found to bear a striking resemblance to Carlton Fisk.



THE HOSPITAL

Mom's View

Sleeps.

Dad's View

Phones 17 relatives, buys cigars, receives important instructions and compliments from attractive young candy stripers.



THE FIRST NIGHT HOME

Mom's View

Feeds baby at midnight, 1:15, 2:45, 4:00, and 6:00 a.m. In between, walks baby and weeps.

Dad's View

Sleeps.



THE MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER ARRIVES

Mom's View

Cries with relief and bonds more closely with her mother than ever before.

Dad's View

Plays 72 holes of golf.



THE PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER ARRIVES

Mom's View

Returns to full-time baby care and renewed postpartum depression.

Dad's View

Spends many quality hours with mother, comparing sleeping baby to infant pictures of self. Notes that spouse is strangely out of sorts.



THE DIAPERS

Mom's View

Ten, on a good day.

Dad's View

The what?




THE LACK OF SLEEP

Mom's View

Weeps.

Dad's View

Learns to prop sharp pencil under leg during long afternoon meetings so that when muscles relax into dozing state, a prick of pain wakes him up.



THE SCHEDULE

Mom's View

Has none.  Begins to wonder whether there really is such a thing as life after maternity leave.

Dad's View

Suddenly finds office tasks piling up in late afternoon, necessitating that he work overtime.  Does not relate this to baby's 6:00 p.m. "hell hour."



THE FIRST NIGHT OUT:  BEFORE

Mom's View

Pumps two bottles of milk before satisfying self that baby will not starve, interviews three teenagers before choosing a sitter, tries on six dresses before finding one that zips.

Dad's View

Comes home half an hour early.



THE FIRST NIGHT OUT: DURING

Mom's View

Unaccustomed to wine during dinner, falls asleep halfway through movie.

Dad's View

Thrilled to have his life back, barely notices wife's inertia.



THE FIRST NIGHT OUT: AFTER

Mom's View

Peeling self out of dress, leaking milk, and feeling slightly drunk, falls asleep before Dad has taken sitter home.

Dad's View

Weeps.



THE BABY SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT

Mom's View

After first uninterrupted night's sleep in months, wakes at 8:00 a.m. and literally does not know where she is or, in fact, who she is.

Dad's View

After sleeping through approximately 109 nighttime feedings, wakes at 2:00, 5:00, and 6:00 a.m. to check on baby.



THE FIRST BIRTHDAY

Mom's View

Papers dining room in "Sesame Street" paraphernalia, invites 14 close friends to watch baby smear chocolate cake on highchair.

Dad's View

Commits entire two-hour extravaganza to video.



THE DAY AFTER

Mom's View

Shows spouse results of recent home pregnancy test.

Dad's View

Weeps.

-- Author Unknown


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©Karen N. Kilson