Rookie Dad: Thoughts on First-Time Fatherhood
Becoming a parent is like jumping off a cliff --- a mixture of excitement, elation and fear of the unknown all blended into one life-altering experience. Fortunately, there is a library of helpful books and resources for women that explains the ins and outs of pregnancy and becoming a mom.
But what about dad? While fathers-to-be may feel some level of comfort in knowing what placenta means or understanding that some pregnant woman’s feet really do change size (and she’s not really using the pregnancy as an excuse to buy all-new shoes) from the most popular pregnancy books, there aren’t as many resources designed specifically for men. That’s where ROOKIE DAD: Thoughts on First-Time Fatherhood by David Jacobsen comes in.
As the title suggests, this book is a personal memoir on the ups and downs of becoming a dad. Through the proddings of his wife, Christine, David agreed that it was time for the young couple to begin a family. With David still in graduate school and bills bigger than paychecks, a well-meaning family member gently asked if they should wait. David was convinced that even if it wasn’t the best time, it would make his wife shine. They skipped the birth control, and before they knew it, Nicholas was on his way into the world.
Chapter by chapter, Jacobsen walks readers through their journey from ultrasound to birth to lost nights of sleep. At one point, the couple faces an unexpected obstacle: there is a chance that their child has Down’s Syndrome. A few months later, they celebrate Nicholas’s entry into the world; he is a perfectly healthy baby. Throughout the book, Jacobsen explores both the lighter and darker moments of becoming a dad and touches on some of the more universal challenges of parenting, including loneliness and isolation, as well as the struggle that accompanies taking an infant on an airplane.
One of the book’s strengths is Jacobsen’s honesty regarding parenting. He admits that he and his wife subscribed to the let-the-child-cry method when putting Nicholas to sleep. A chapter called “Sex on Thursdays” highlights the natural changes that any young couple undergoes in their intimate life whenever there is a new addition to the family.
“Christine and I found that it was easy --- frighteningly easy --- to let the busyness of our new life as parents interfere with our relationship. It’s a truism these days that everyone’s busy, but new parents are especially busy and so, so tired.”
Jacobsen’s writing is tight and compelling. Though a great storyteller, his references to spiritual matters are thin at best. The book lacks the depth and dimension it could have had if the spiritual side of becoming a father had been tackled with more verve. Still, ROOKIE DAD is a good gift for first-time fathers. It will definitely make jumping off the cliff into parenthood a little easier.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on November 13, 2007