From Smashing Pumpkins to Winnie-the-Pooh

Mike Brenchley, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Editor’s Note: Throughout the years, New Beginnings has featured stories about the support – physical and emotional – partners provide to the breastfeeding parent. In the January-February 1998 issue of New Beginnings, Mike Brenchley wrote about how his life now differed from his friend’s daily routine after the birth of his son. He shared the joy that he had as he watched his wife and son together in the early days. Today we share it in an abbreviated version.

How does your partner support you? We’d love to feature your story in an upcoming blog post and share what that support looks like in your own unique family. Send your story to Amy at [email protected].

Parents holding their babyThe other day, a friend of mine made a face and said, “You’re not going to tell me about breastfeeding, are you?”

The truth of the matter is, I was. My friend had asked me what fatherhood was like and I was trying to tell him. I told him how it was an overwhelming mixture of wonderful, elation, anxiety, and fatigue. And yet, at the same time, how it caused everything to seem clearer and brighter; senses seemed heightened and sights, sounds, and smells seemed more intense. I told him how our priorities had changed and life took on new meaning. I was just starting to explain how the simplest things seemed so perfect, for instance when my wife is giving our little bundle a drink and…

I suppose I should have known better. My friend is a few years younger than I am. His “downtown” single lifestyle is light-years apart from my suburban, married one. Although our days at work are similar, his evenings are taken up with dates, parties, night life, and movies. Mine are now filled with diapers, bath time, and stories. He listens to Smashing Pumpkins. I listen to the theme from Winnie-the-Pooh. I should have guessed that he would have no comprehension of the astonishing feelings invoked by watching your child receiving nourishment from his mother.

I guess I can’t really blame him though. I honestly never expected these feelings to be so strong. There are subtle, yet strangely wonderful feelings which I have when I watch my wife feeding our son. During those warm afternoons when the sunlight slants through the bedroom window and the three of us lie sleepily on the bed together, there is an overwhelming sense that everything is good in the world. My wife and I lie facing each other with our son between us, asleep. When he awakes, he seems to know instinctively where to find what he is looking for. When he latches on, he seems to enter a state of ecstasy; he becomes completely relaxed, his eyes close part way, and his entire being is focused on the task of drinking.

Then the only sound in the room is his soft breathing, regularly interrupted by an almost inaudible “glug” when he swallows another mouthful of warm milk. During these peaceful times, all of the problems of the world fall away. Time stands still and I feel as though I could stay and watch forever. There is no better feeling than to know that right here in this room, my son is receiving everything he could possibly need in his new life.

My love for my newborn son sprang from my heart the moment he was born and seems to grow stronger every day. But my love and respect for my wife is growing stronger, too. Every day I seem to learn more about her; I see her strength of character, her patience, her instinctive and deep-rooted love for our son. And I see her natural ability to feed him, providing him, in this one simple act, nourishment, comfort, warmth, and love. I always imagined she would be a wonderful mother; now I know for sure.

Yes, my downtown friend is a long way away from looking at life the same way I do. Sometimes he asks me if I ever long to return to a lifestyle similar to his. I tell him that, having experienced all of the wonders and joys of a brand-new life and everything that surrounds it, I wouldn’t trade places with him for the world. And I’ll take Winnie-the-Pooh over Smashing Pumpkins any day.

Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].

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