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Training for a New Dad



Three month-old William Stockwell gazes up into his father’s face, putting his tiny fingers through the buttonholes of his dad’s flannel shirt.

As Bernard carries his newborn son across the farmyard, he’s a confident, proud father. He loves spending time with little William, cradling him sideways on his forearm as they walk.

“Hey, hey, little guy. He’s all about the football hold,” he says. “This is how he likes to be held.”

A new adventure

Before William’s birth, the Parker farmer had no experience with babies. He’d never changed a diaper and had only held a baby once – and that was because William was on the way.

“I wanted to be able to help out, but I just wasn’t sure what to do,” he says, grabbing a seed corn cap before taking his son outside for a little walk. “I’ll admit it was a little scary.”

When he and his wife Hilary heard about the “Training Camp for Dads,” they both knew it would be a great idea. Three weeks before William was born, Bernard went to a four-hour class provided by Sanford’s Childbirth Resource Center.

While he was nervous about the impending labor and delivery, and what would happen when it was time to take his new son home, the class really helped. From the start, the class was educational and fun, he said.

Learning practical skills

“It made me feel better to see the other new dads were as confused as I was,” he says, holding William up to his face. “We had a lot of questions.”

The class addressed some of the things that Bernard and his wife had learned in the childbirth preparation classes, but there was plenty more information specific to dads. They learned how to support their wives during pregnancy and childbirth.

A new father brought in his baby, telling the other men a little bit about the weeks after his baby’s birth. Classes covered both basic baby care and ways for a new dad to take care of himself after the infant is born.

The expectant fathers got a chance to practice the skills they’d need, diapering, feeding, swaddling and bathing a baby. Bernard left with a book and other materials that he read intently over the next few weeks, doing his best to prepare.

“Once he was here, there wasn’t much time for reading anymore,” Bernard said. “But it was okay. I felt ready to go.”

Today Bernard is an actively involved dad. He handles bedtime most days, swaddling William and rocking him to sleep. The training camp gave him techniques to use with his new son and the confidence he needed, he said.

Time with William

As William turns his little head giving a tired little whimper, he gently rocks him in his arms, making a gentle “shushing” sound. “You’re not that mad, little man,” he says, stroking his small head. The baby quickly dozes off, snoozing comfortably along his dad’s side.

Little William has already had his first tractor ride, but right now most of his time with dad is a little more low-key. When Bernard isn’t working at the family’s farm operation, raising cattle, corn and soybeans, he loves to spend time holding and caring for his son.

With a sheepish grin, the new father admits that he loves talking about his new son and gets excited about every milestone, smiles and giggles and those first attempts to roll over. He doesn’t remember what he did before William was born, he says.

“It’s incredible having someone who depends on you and trusts you this much,” Bernard said. “I was glad to have something to help me be ready for this responsibility.”

Posted Date: July 2012

Training for a New Dad

Before his son William was born, Bernard Stockwell had never cared for a baby. Learn how Sanford’s Training Camp for Dads prepared him to bond with his newborn son.