My wife and I are blessed with our son. He generally sleeps well, eats well and is getting big and healthy. I enjoy his laughter and smiles as we play. We have begun to understand his “language”—and can usually figure out why he is fussy. He and I share conversations daily, and although I’m not sure we completely understand each other we both often have a smile on our face.
I feel like I am trying to model self-regulation and to learn how to be in control, but I’m not always the best model. Something that I don’t enjoy about fatherhood is watching my son get shots. I believe in the value and importance of getting vaccinated. I also remember that when I was about 7-years-old, I pushed away a nurse and ran from her because I wasn’t going to let her “hurt” me. So when it came time for my son to have his set of shots, I felt it was especially important to help him stay calm. This seemed easy since he had no idea what was going to happen. I soothingly told him that this will hurt a little and will be over quick. I told him that it will help him to stay healthy and that I love him very much.
The nurse instructed me to hold him down on the exam table. I looked down into his eyes and I felt like I had been prodded with a giant needle even though we hadn’t even started yet. I remember hearing the phrase, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” growing up as a child. The look in his eyes when I knew he felt pain did seem to hurt me more than him. He didn’t cry at first but I had visions of being age 7 again, and I wanted to grab him up and run. I could see the pain in his eyes and held him close. He cried a little and I held and hugged him.
This has been a difficult experience. Several times in his first 3 months, Morgan also had to get blood drawn (not just a few drops). This process of feeling pain as I looked into his eyes as I held my son has gotten easier (I still haven’t given in to the urge to grab him up and run, at least.). Even though he is an infant, I like to think that my effort to self-regulate has been a good model and this has been an early step to self-regulation for him. I look forward to the other situations that will connect us as he grows up.