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Rookie Dad: Thoughts on First-Time Fatherhood Paperback – November 18, 2007
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From the Back Cover
When I found out my wife, Christine, was pregnant, I had no idea what I was thinking or feeling, and no clue what I should be thinking or feeling. Christine had daily heart-to-hearts with her girlfriends and a stack of parenting books by her bed. I had lots of questions with no answers. So I started writing. It was either that, or try to ignore the whole thing -- a choice that became increasingly difficult as Christine's belly became increasingly swollen. Rookie Dad is the story of a young husband and father learning how to pay attention to his family's changing size and shape. It's a story filled with hard questions, with laughter and tears, and with the unexpected joy of first-time fatherhood. It's my story -- the story of how I became a dad.
About the Author
David Jacobsen holds master’s degrees in theology and creative writing. He teaches and writes in central Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Christine, and their sons. He can be reached through his website, http://jacobsenwriting.com.
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Top customer reviews
This description of objects spills over into descriptions of people, which are short but not hurried. For example, Jacobsen says his grandfather has a voice "like a cello, working the rich midregister" (91), and that his friend Doug "Knows Stuff, like what a carburetor is, the rules of poker, and how toilets flush" (21). I love these descriptions because they avoid the cliché eye-and-hair-color descriptions I sometimes see, and because they do more than describe the person: they describe a bit about Jacobsen's relationship with the person.
Far and away, though, what I admire most in this book is the way Jacobsen crafts conclusions, the way he repeats a variety of seemingly disparate images throughout a chapter and then weaves them together into something that feels conclusive but not overworked. In the first full chapter, "Ultrasound," David describes the baby stretching inside Christine's womb, and then remembers himself stretching his feet out studying in library cubicles in college, and then at the end of the chapter Christine moves her feet to touch David's feet under the blankets of their bed. And it's perfect! And he does that throughout.
At one point Jacobsen says, I want to hurt my child. He is intensely honest and personal. I couldn't believe the part where he describes a conversation with his father where he asked his dad why he never talked about "sex or dating or masturbation or pornography" (30). And that was in a book I'm sure he knew his father would read. Awkward, sure, but I understood. And when he later writes, "I discover that I am madly in love with Nicolas's chubby, soft, vigorous, beautiful body," I understand that David intends to speak directly with his son as he grows, and be open in his relationship with him (114).
There's humor, too. I love the part where he confesses his feelings during birth: "I wanted to stay right beside Christine as her strong rock, but I felt like running down the hall and locking myself in a supply closet until it was all over" (48). And I like the part, long after the birth, when David describes reading to his son: "Christine and I both suffer from a severe allergy to Christian cheese, so we were afraid that it would be one of those kids' Bibles where Jesus looks like Rod Stewart with a neatly trimmed beard and the bad guys come straight from Disney's catalog of hook-nosed villains" (155).
If you're a new or soon-to-be father, or know one, buy this book.
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