FORT HOOD, Texas - A young man sitting at his desk suddenly gets a call from his wife. She says two words, “It’s time” and then hangs up. He rushes home, picks up his wife and then heads to the hospital. Several hours later, he’s earned a new title, father.
Before that though, expectant and new fathers stationed at Fort Hood are encouraged to attend Boot Camp for new and expecting dads, a class given by the Family Advocacy Program.
“This program started in 2008,” said Sharon Jones, a trainer and educator with the Fort Hood Family Advocacy. “In this class we talk about pregnancy, what to expect, ways to support mom during pregnancy, delivery, what a dad’s role is and bonding issues.”
To accomplish this, the men were outfitted with an empathy belt to simulate pregnancy for a few minutes by constricting breathing a little, putting a little pressure on the bladder and making it difficult to move around.
“I was expecting to get more information and some instruction on swaddling and bottle feeding and the car seats and something like that the empathy belt,” said Spc. Russell Molyneaux, a military intelligence systems maintainer with the 66th Military Intelligence Company, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. “Oh yeah, I felt what she was going through. I couldn’t imagine doing that for nine months let alone the things we didn’t do in there like going to the bathroom or using a shower.”
The expectant fathers also learned about what it means when the baby cries, how to change a diaper, safety in the house and how to bond with their child.
“I’m going to follow a lot of the advice that was given in the class,” Molyneaux said.
Nervousness and a little bit of fear filled the air for these new fathers, but most of their fears were salved during the hands on portion of the class.
“Oh yeah, I was nervous. It was one of the reasons my wife and I decided I should come to this,” Molyneaux said. “We first heard about [Boot Camp for New and Expecting Dads] during the shaken baby [syndrome] class. I asked one of my [noncommissioned officers] who had been through it and he said it was very useful.”
At the end of the three hour class, the four new and expecting fathers walked out of the class confident they could handle their babies.
“You’ll be ok. Don’t be afraid,” advised Jones as the men left the class. “Just jump right in. There’s no right or wrong way.”
The class is offered every first Wednesday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center.