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How Real Men Spend Time With Their Newborns

Updated on December 23, 2010
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My son Klaus and I out on a hike.  Ben Zoltak retains all image rights 2010.
My son Klaus and I out on a hike.  Ben Zoltak retains all image rights 2010.
My son Klaus and I out on a hike. Ben Zoltak retains all image rights 2010.

Hangin' With My Newborn Son

So as my wife says, our son is 10 weeks old now. Men don't generally say how many weeks, or months even, we usually say something like, "this is my newborn son." It's been quite the transition for me. I raised one newborn...thirteen years ago! Turns out, I'm more rusty at this than I thought I might be. However, I am proud to say, I've been able to get up for many of the A.M. feedings, even though my wife gets credit for the bulk of those.

There are lots of little things that I forgot about that I will get to in a moment but first, I wanted to bubble over a bit (as my Father-in-law Russ likes to say) about hangin' with my son. In these past few weeks I've watched his awareness increase a little more each day. I take him on hikes with me, where I live I am privileged to be in range of several nature preserves and some farms. Klaus is quite the charmer. He's named after a Polish-German actor-Kinski, a Lemony Snicket character and also, subconsciously apparently, named after a dream-interpretation book author-Vollmar. His middle name is a homage to two of my Father In Laws. When he finds my eyes, and he's in the right mood, his eyes curl into two huge smiles of their own. His gummy smile is hilarious and all at once: pure, raw, joy. On these hikes, I watch him look at the leaves waving frantically in the breeze. Sometimes he curls up close to me, other times he bobs his head out, reaching to look as far as he can with his fledgling neck muscles. He is not so in tune, that he tracks things like a hawk. He is more like some sort of tiny Buddha, taking it all in, every leaf, breeze, lake and field. The sun shines on us and the tiny and few hairs on top of his head wave back and fourth with the slightest breath of air. He looks at the woods, then at me, then out over a field.

Laughing with my son K-billy.

Here is Klaus after we ate too many blueberries. Sometimes Daddy's do the strangest things.
Here is Klaus after we ate too many blueberries. Sometimes Daddy's do the strangest things.

Diapers, bottles, burps and bjorns

Like I said, there are some little things I forgot about. The biggest, and this is the one everybody warns you about but you just have no idea until it happens: dedicated time. I can get somethings done with the baby around, but not everything. It crossed my mind to saw some wood for a few paintings the other day, while I was watching Klaus alone. It took all of about three seconds to reconsider that idea! Anything even remotely dangerous is out the window when it's just him and I. I can still paint, but mostly I write and prepare to work on art, so that when my wife or daughter are around, I can paint with less interruption. But this isn't the end of the world, as I'm sure many a Father might feel at some point watching his social life get drained by his own squirming progeny. With this newborn son of mine, he has helped turn things upside down, and this is a good direction for an artist to be in if you ask me, at least some of the time. It changes the locus of your priorities. Somethings I no longer do, other tasks I do with even more stamina and vigor.


Me and the newborn kid in action...

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Recent smile upgrade includes giggle feature.Hangin' with the newborn where the sidewalk ends...Punkin' it alongside the railroad tracks, me, Klaus and some tags.Skin to skinMy Wife Allison, Father-in-law Bill and Klaus.Old school feeding sideburns flam-beau.K-billy asleep on our hike in Lake Farm Park, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Recent smile upgrade includes giggle feature.
Recent smile upgrade includes giggle feature.
Hangin' with the newborn where the sidewalk ends...
Hangin' with the newborn where the sidewalk ends...
Punkin' it alongside the railroad tracks, me, Klaus and some tags.
Punkin' it alongside the railroad tracks, me, Klaus and some tags.
Skin to skin
Skin to skin
My Wife Allison, Father-in-law Bill and Klaus.
My Wife Allison, Father-in-law Bill and Klaus.
Old school feeding sideburns flam-beau.
Old school feeding sideburns flam-beau.
K-billy asleep on our hike in Lake Farm Park, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
K-billy asleep on our hike in Lake Farm Park, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

One of our hiking grounds...Lake Farm County Park

Solve for Puke

Let's get something straight here and now, changing diapers ain't no big thing. I have a good friend who changed his disabled fully-grown brothers' adult diapers for a few decades, he reminded me, "Ben, these baby diapers are nothing, are you kidding me? It takes like two seconds, hardly smells at all, and you're done."

So when I hear some pathetic Dad whimpering about having to change a stupid diaper I just laugh at him inside. Is that really the worst thing in your life you have to deal with? If that's it, you're in pretty damn good shape Kemosabe. Shut up and change the damn diaper fool.

Bottles? Ain't no big thing, especially now with the internet. Truthfully, sometimes the little guy needs all my attention during a feeding. Somehow my wife reads a book and feeds at the same time (it must be a boob thing) because I can't hold a book and a bottle at the same time. But you can pretty easily click a mouse. Other times, we head out to the front porch, it's good to get some sun on his noggin. He eats anywhere between three to six ounces now, lately leaning more towards six. The little guy sometimes swallows air in big gulps, he makes loud "GOOOLP" sounds as he drinks like it's the last bottle on the planet! So maybe two or three times you gotta tilt him up, so that he's squatting/sitting, and gently pat or rub his back until he lets out a satisfying BUURRRPPP! Ah! We're both really happy when that happens. You see there's an equation at work here:

B + D x S = P (b/N+p)

Where B= Bottle, D = Desire for milk/formula, S = Speed or velocity of nipple intake, P = Puke, b= burp, N = number of burps and p = varying positions to try evacuating burpage.

Solve for puke.

So right now, our big thing is the bjorn. It's a pretty cool baby-carrying-device. I prefer the, over the back, metal-framed version, but he's too young for that. Apparently he needs more neck strength so the Doc said wait until around six months. Meanwhile, we do our walking via bjorn. We use a great hand-me-down Baby Bjorn that loads in the front! I know I don't look necessarily supercool with the thing on, haha. But my days of being supercool must've ended back when I retired my eyebrow ring and blue/white mohawk. Now it's just Klaus and me and if anybody doesn't like it they can kiss my keister. Which brings me to the penultimate point about hangin' with my son...



Gigglin' in the crib with K-billy and Pops

There is a positive vulnerability that soaks you to your core. Even if you haven't thrown a punch in decades (guilty)many men, at least this man, is always ready for a fight. But start carrying around ten pounds of cuddly cuteness, and you kind of guffaw at your inner fire. What are you going to do? Box it out with a baby on your chest? I don't think so Sampson. Now you have become a gentle giant. Big bad Ben is sweet Benny now.

Lastly, it's not always a picnic in the park (try that, with a dagwood 4 Dad of course) but take the occasional cries and screaming with a grain of salt, your folk's must have, or you wouldn't be here reading this today. We all have to work, we all have to get other things done, we all have to decompress once in awhile. Just never take that out on your kid. Enjoy the time that you get to share, make more of that time, get out there and introduce your child to the world.


Check out more articles by Ben:

How To Be A Cool Dad, But Not Too Cool Dude

How To Keep On, Keepin' On

If You Have A Great Wife, Hold Onto Her Tight

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    • blackmarx profile image

      blackmarx 6 years ago from Rice Lake, WI

      Seeing the pictures of you and the little guy takes me back 14 years when my daughter was a newborn. Spending time playing with her was a highlight of my day. Now she is knows everything and and i am just lame. :)

      Keep up the good work.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

      you are a great baby daddy...enjoy

    • H.C Porter profile image

      Holly 6 years ago from Lone Star State

      Oh my gosh--- you are a proud daddy arent you :) thanks for linking to my poem. this hub brought back so many memories and makes me want another one...almost....but not quite yet, lol. glad to see you writing again and good to have you back in the hubs. love that new baby boy :) they do grow up fast-so enjoy every 2 am feeding and temper tantrum :)

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      blackmarx! Thanks man, and I know what you mean. My 13 year old thinks I am, as you say, now I am, "just lame", lol. Ah well, that's life. I hear they come around again in their twenties. I'm wondering how different it will be with a son. So how about you Ben, are you done with kids? I'll let you know how this pans out with a son.

      Cheers man, see you for a beer in Rice Lake sometime!

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you Enlydia, this dude abides. I love my son.

      Ben

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      Ben, if you're hanging with your son on a hiking trail, changing diapers or feeding the little guy in the night--trust me, you are super-cool and you look it. Cool looks different on parents and you've got it, my friend. The joy you derive from the time you spend with your son is a beautiful thing, and this hub was beautiful, also. Thanks for sharing.

      Mike

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Is this the introduction to a new hubber, Ben? If so welcome Klaus may you have many words (and giggles) to share with all of us.

      great hub

      Glad you're back Ben you were missed

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      H.C.! Thank you kindly! I hope whichever you choose, new baby or not, that you keep carrying that bright candle of your soul to everyone around you, like I know you do. Glad to link to one of your poems, your caring shines through.

      Best,

      Ben

    • cheaptrick profile image

      cheaptrick 6 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      To cool Ben,To cool.This hub reminds me of the time my wife made me learn to change my sons[now thirty two]diaper.I removed his dirty one and wouldn't you Know it,He chose that exact time to pee strait up and on me...and he's been doing it ever since.That was the day I understood why alligators eat their young LOL.Actually I couldn't be prouder of his accomplishments if I tried,he's a great kid.Thanks for triggering the memory bro.

      Dean

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Congratulation for such a beautiful son. I am not surpriseed you are thilled.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Mike, I've learned to take compliments albeit, grudgingly. I guess my insecurity comes from years of bullying from different people that I get a bit self-conscious when I appear a little less than- in whatever regard, so thanks for shoring-up my sides my friend.

      Ben

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      What loving photos! I am so happy to share your hub with you and your little boy. My son and wonderful DIL are expecting their son in Feb. - and I have no doubt my son will be a real man/father. Why would anyone want to be less than that.

      I don't know what I would be without my wonderful hero dad in my life. Oh, sure, I do. I'd be nutty and out in the street fighting and all sorts of crazy things - trying to fill the big void. Instead I am...well, a cool old lady. Babies need their dads too - 100%

      Love that Lemony Snickett name! Oh and by the way if he pees in your face be glad. We old wives know that it is so good for the skin!

      Have big dad fun! Yay!

      Rated up!

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      With twenty and twenty two year old daughters, i can imagine how easy it would be to forget a lot of the things required when caring for a new borne baby. The innocence of a child is the most precious thing to be nurtured and protected. I wish you luck on your changed lifestyle, where dad's needs come second. Cheers

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Zsuzsy! Your welcome back is like candy for my mind's ear, thank you it's good to be loved! This Klaus fella, he may be a potential hubber, also possibly a quarterback or pianist!The little man's got some big hands!

      Stay warm this autumn!

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Dean, I hear you loud and clear. Not only have I recieved a shot of the same, but I get the metaphor. I have had to learn to accept that Father's and Son's have a certain kind of precarious relationship that has it's highs and lows. Good man listening to your wife and to be a man and get your hands a little dirty.

      Admiring your Floridian weather from afar my friend.

      Ben

    • cbris52 profile image

      cbris52 6 years ago

      The world could use more quality dads like you and I...just sayin... keep up the good work my friend!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you Hello, hello for noticing us here in our little corner of the HubPages.Com universe!!!

      Ben

    • D.Virtual.Doctor profile image

      Funom Theophilus Makama 6 years ago from Europe

      woooow! this is just great. Spending time with a newborn by a dad is awesome. The passion from this hub I feel just make me wanna become a daddy (but not yet). Great hub and nice work. I need to bookmark this so that I can read it on and on and on....

      Truly a nice piece of work here...

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      So many men miss on this opportunity to develop a deep and lasting bond with their children. Great points!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Congrats to your son and DIL, what a strange and amazing feeling it must be anticipating Grand-parenthood. My Dad is also a good guy, he was the one Dad on my block growing up that consistently was outside playing football with all us kids, good memory. Thank you for the compliment on the name, mostly we get those, although we get the occasional asinine nincompoop comment about Santa Claus and the mispronunciation, haha, ah well such is life.

      Thanks for visiting, it's always an honor Brooklyn!!!

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you attemptedhumour, I try to make positive changes when I can. I am honored that you've taken the time to stroll through more than one of my articles, cheers mate!

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      cbris, thank you for your kind words. It feels good to try to set an example for those that are unsure.

      Ben

    • Greenbambinis profile image

      Greenbambinis 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      love the use of photos and videos to bring your story to light

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Oh my God...congratulations Ben. That boy Klaus is too adorable and I really like the name.

      It's my belief as far as parenting goes, you get back what you put in...and it looks like you'll be getting plenty back.

      Great news

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      D.Virtual Doc, thanks for the kind compliment. Yeah, parenthood isn't for everyone and I commend those single folks who recognize that it may or may not be for them. I can appreciate the lifestyle of those who don't have to care for children, I'll be back there someday! Meanwhile, I'm just enjoying this for what it is.

      Best,

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      2besure, you are correct, so many men do miss out. In my experience, it's because someone convinced (or sold) them that there is something more important and/or fun out there whatever that might be.

      Thanks for the props!

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Greenbambinis thanks fo the vote of confidence! Some hubs are more image heavy, still warming up to video.

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Miss Bovary, he is a cute kid I have to agree with you. It's a funny thing with parenting, I think parents can try and hedge their bets, but sometimes no matter how hard some people try, their children turn into something else. As per your returns, there's a lot of instant karma here!

      Ben

    • IdiditAlready profile image

      IdiditAlready 6 years ago

      Great Hubs. I can definitely relate.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      IdiditAlready, thanks man. You have a kid of your own?

      Ben

    • mycanadianson profile image

      mycanadianson 6 years ago from British Columbia

      This is so sweet. I have a three month old son and I just love seeing my husband and him play together. The world needs more dads like you and him.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you mycandadianson or should I say yourcanadianson? Haha. I know what you mean about the scene you described above, maybe it's the contrast of the thing that gets me. Either way, as you said, the world needs more of it!

      Best,

      Ben

    • dawnM profile image

      Dawn Michael 6 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

      So sweet and enjoy every minute of it even the poopy ones...lol

      I love to hear about the daddy's that gush over there kids it is wonderful.

      when my children were born my husband would take them to the other room at night and them bring them in so that they could nurse so that Iwould get a good nights sleep. Keep up the good work!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      dawnM, the poopy ones are not so bad!!! Thank you for sharing the anecdote about your husband, sounds like a good guy. There are a lot of goofs out there that won't lift a finger for their wives and girlfriends.

      Thanks for the accolade.

      Ben

    • J. McCoy profile image

      J. McCoy 6 years ago from CA (originally)

      It's nice to come across another man who has the balls to be a proud and involved dad. I've loved the last year and a half I've spent with my now 3 year old. She helps me do laundry and follows me around with her tool belt 'fixing' stuff with me. Just decided to make her a toy table saw tonight at dinner. I love your style of writing and you make your hubs funny.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks J.McCoy and I know what you mean. Sometimes good-natured ribbing from naive single men can make you feel a little less than, but your kid still comes first.

      Thank you for sharing the laundry and fixing stuff story with your daughter. My daughter and I have similar but different stories, but at least a half dozen laundry tales haha.

      Thank you also for the kind and specific remarks about my style of writing, I aim for something different.

      Best,

      Ben

    • Karanda profile image

      Karen Wilton 6 years ago from Australia

      Ah Ben, what an absolute star you are with your writing. To bring this to life, that wonderful world of the newborn but from a father's perspective, I must admit I was a little sceptical but you carried it off beautifully.

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Wonderful lovely family you have. I can see all the love, and it is really great. Your a gread dad, and will be a great father for a fine son, and probably for more children to come. GBY

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Karanda, it's great when people surprise each other isn't it? Sometimes I feel a bit like a corn ball for writing these sorts of articles. But I think some men, usually but not always young men, need some sort of path or direction to go down, and I hope that I provide some of that.

      Thanks for reading!

      Ben

    • nikipa profile image

      nikipa 6 years ago from Eastern Europe

      So nice touching story! I am sure the boy brings the best in you! Thank you for sharing!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks stars439, I try to avoid too much pride, but you have to have some to keep trying right? Thanks much, for following so many of my hubpage projects here, it means a great deal to me. Maybe one more??????

      Best,

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you Nikipa, the boy is something else, a real charmer!

      Ben

    • sameerk profile image

      sameerk 6 years ago from India

      Awesome

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Sameerk, I enjoyed your article on first time Fathers! Well done.

      Ben

    • LensMan999 profile image

      LensMan999 6 years ago from Trans-Neptunian region

      Hey I love this type of hubs. About new borns you had mentioned a lot it is too much interesting to read and ya photo galleries is mind blowing.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Hey thanks for the compliment on my photos, I try to turn them into art! Cheers man.

      Ben

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 6 years ago

      He such a handsome boy! Congratulations. I don't mind getting another one, whether it is 10 years or 20 years later, but my age is catching up. :( So, you are so blessed with another child.

      Great hub, and enjoy his young age before he gets smarter than you. lol....

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      20 years later is too much for me Ingenira! But I see you have already travelled the world, I hope someday my kids will be grown and I can visit some exotic places and spread the word about being a good father to kids. I will do as you say and try my best to enjoy our time while it lasts.

      Thank you for the kind words.

      Ben

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Ben, you don't hear men talk much about their newborns like you have hear. He is a lucky boy

      Congrats and keep up the good work

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you kindly Granny's House. It's not an easy thing for most men to communicate to be sure, but you know I'm the loudest yeller!

      Ben

    • profile image

      dean d 5 years ago

      i found this post by accident. my first newborn is six days old. i love her to death and have been captivated by her since she got here last week. just tonight i started recognizing the little bit of fear hiding in the back of my brain. your post was the perfect thing to read at this moment. i think it's going to be a beautiful ride.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Hey dean great music! I just "liked" your "In Light" song from your Bear Lake cd, cool stuff.

      I wish you and your daughter the most beautiful ride as you say, more to sing about! I know well that love of a daughter, it is powerful, and it saves the world.

      Warm regards vis a vis with another artist father.

      Ben Zoltak

    • oneinajillian profile image

      oneinajillian 5 years ago from So.Cali

      Great read... Happy (early) Father's Day to you!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image
      Author

      Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks oneinajillian, kind of you!

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