By Dianne Kemp BA, RN
I met many interesting couples while teaching childbirth and parenting education. There are some that have left an indelible mark on my heart. Calvin’s parents are one such couple. *Names have been altered for privacy.
I met Sue and Kevin in childbirth class. They were pregnant with their first child and very excited. Most parents are aware of their baby’s gender when they enter class and have often already named the baby. Sue and Kevin knew they were having a boy but could not agree on a name, so they called their unborn child Little Bean as a kind of joke.
One of the things I taught in class was that it is important for each parent to have a special activity to do with their baby. This is especially important if the mom is breastfeeding as the father often complains that he feels left out of this intimate relationship between mother and child. I would often suggest that the dad take bathes with their baby. I always gave very specific instructions on this activity as I really feel that it is a great bonding time.
Mom has to assist with this as dad may be intimidated by the process.
- Buy a bath pillow so dad can have something to lean on
- Fill tub with warm water
- Dad get in tub
- Mom undress baby and hand to dad
- Dad puts baby on his chest, baby on its tummy
- Keeping baby submerged in water, dad applies soap to his hands and massages baby
- Mom keeps adding warm water to keep temperature right,
- When bath is done, mom takes baby from dad
I received a lot of great feedback from parents about this suggestion but none meant more than Sue’s.
You see, Kevin and Sue had a beautiful son and named him Calvin (not Little Bean). Kevin started taking baths with Calvin the day they came home from the hospital. It was their thing to do – Sue never took this away from the two of them. As Calvin grew older, he would clap his hands and come crawling to the bathroom as soon as he heard the water running in the bathtub. The quiet bath of the newborn became a raucous splashing affair that both dad and son loved.
But, one awful day, Kevin was killed in a car accident. When I saw Sue at the funeral home, her first question to me was “what should I do about his baths”. Calvin was 8 months old and, of course, could not understand what had happened to his dad. He would still come crawling when the bath was run and the whole thing was devastating to Sue.
I knew Kevin had a brother and they had a very special relationship. I suggested to Sue that she ask her brother-in-law to take over the bath detail. We went over to Calvin’s uncle right then and asked his feelings about the idea. He was happy and I think, honored, to say yes.
I talked to Sue several times in the following weeks and she reported that Calvin and his uncle did the bath routine about 4 times a week. Calvin was hesitant at first but soon came to enjoy the bath again.
As time passed, and Calvin became older, the bath routine slowly stopped and other routines between Calvin and his uncle were formed.
What a gift Kevin and Calvin had for those 8 short months – bonding, attachment with dad and son. A dad who was not afraid to show his love, a mom who knew how to share and a baby who knew he was loved. And an uncle who carried on where dad left off…
Happy Father’s Day, June 17, 2018!
Dianne Kemp was born in Detroit and moved to Lexington at age 9. She received her Associate Degree in Nursing Science in 1972 from SC4, and a Bachelors in Healthcare Psychology from Graceland College (Iowa) in 1996.
Dianne’s career developed from her love of babies. She was a Maternal Child nurse for 45 years – developing and teaching childbirth and parenting education classes, working as an RN in Mother Baby Care and was the first lactation consultant in the county. She is now volunteering as a chaplain at River District Hospital since losing her vision in her left eye due to a retinal detachment in 2010.
Dianne is the proud mother of three children (one who was disabled and passed away in 2007) and two grandchildren.
Disclaimer: Blue Water Healthy Living is an online magazine located in Port Huron, Michigan. Our purpose is to promote healthy living by showcasing the Blue Water Area, its people, issues and surroundings. This online magazine is devoted to providing healthy living related stories, local happenings, and commentary. Often inspiring and uplifting, our stories come from our heart and soul to promote the enjoyment of a more fulfilling Blue Water Area lifestyle. The material on this web site is provided for informational and amusement purposes only and is not to be confused with any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of Blue Water Healthy Living.