When I watch you and your daddy, I smile. There’s this myth that says “Dads don’t bond without bottles”. Your dad scoffs at such things. He believes that his bond with you comes from listening to you. From holding you. From loving you. From always seeking the best for you. And from understanding that the best way for you to eat is a way that he cannot provide for you. He is not jealous of this fact. This is the only thing that he cannot give you. He understands that even though he cannot breastfeed you, he can support me and ensure that I am able to do so. Just as during pregnancy you had needs that only I could meet, and he helped me to do so.
Instead of feeding you, he listens. From the moment you are born he has watched you. He listens to the sounds you make. He feels how you hold your body, how you kick your feet. How you are when you are content and curious, how you are when you are gassy. He recognizes your feeding cues and when you just need comfort.
He holds you. He sits with you and looks into your eyes and you look into his. He plays with your feet and your hands. He rubs your ears and runs his fingers through your hair. He strips off his shirt and yours and sits with you skin to skin while you listen to the rhythm of his heart and doze off to sleep in the safety of his arms.
He bathes you, he changes you, he dresses you, he notices if you’re warm to the touch or if you have a rash.
He offers up his pinky finger as a pacifier when you cry, he doesn’t just soldier on through your unhappiness. He stops. He slows down. He talks to you. He tells you that it will be alright. He helps you calm down. He dances with you, his body knows the rhythm that soothes you. Sometimes when you cry in my arms he’ll start to bounce along with us without even noticing.
He smiles at you. He plays little games with your feet, your fingers, your toes. He tickles you.
He understands that feeding you is just meeting one of many needs. He finds his own ways of doing things with you, of comforting you, of loving you. He bonds with you through being your father and setting your needs ahead of his own.
When we are nursing he lays down next to us, and plays with your fingers and strokes your hair. He curls his body around mine which is curled around yours. He whispers that he loves you and he wears it as a truth upon his face. You’ll know this to be the truth as far back as you can remember. Know that it was the truth from before your memories as well, and from before you were born.