Fatherhood arrives just in time for new dads

By Greg Gelpi

Father's Day usually means visiting his father and father-in-law, but this Sunday Walt Ellison will celebrate being a father himself.

Ellison honored the birth of his first child, Adaline Ellison, Wednesday at Southern Regional Medical Center by slipping a University of Georgia Bulldogs hat on her head.

"I'm guessing that Adaline will be an athlete somewhere along the way," he said.

The most special part of being a father is passing on knowledge to children, the new father said.

The Starr's Mill High School baseball coach said he and his wife Teresa, a former college volleyball and softball player, have surely passed on some athletic genes to Adaline.

"It's really special looking at her and knowing I'm a father," Ellison said. "While it's overwhelming, it's also exciting."

Another new father, John Lee of McDonough, said he will spend his Father's Day resting and taking advice from his mother, who will be visiting.

"It's a new experience," Lee said of his daughter, Megan Olivia Lee. "I'm ready to dive in. It's a big responsibility. It's going to be a lot of difficulties, but a lot of joys that go along with it."

He said that everything stopped when he first saw his daughter.

Larry Baker of McDonough became a father for the third time with the birth of his son Brody this week.

"I wouldn't say (I'm a) pro, but you're always learning something," he said. "I couldn't be happier. It just feels good to have a healthy baby."

Plans for Lee Baker's Father's Day include a day at the ballpark, he said. His 10-year-old son is playing in a baseball tournament.

Being a father is more than just receiving a card and playing catch, said Stephanie McCumber, the Southern Regional Family Resource Center coordinator.

"Just step in where needed and let mom get some rest," McCumber said of new fathers. "They can do just as much as mom can do except breastfeed."

It's important for fathers to chip in with the house chores, relieving some of the workload of the new mothers, she said.

Tammy Thompson, a perinatal educator and lactation consultant at Henry Medical Center, said the most important thing is for fathers to spend time with their children.

"The main thing is being there and being there for the baby," Thompson said. "The biggest thing is just being involved."

Fathers should set aside time daily to spend one-on-one with their children, she said.

"Don't be scared of the baby," Thompson said. "Don't be afraid that you're going to hurt the baby because you'll do fine."

Fathers should be careful to properly install car seats for their children and be sure to lay their infants on their back when they sleep to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, McCumber said.

Thompson added that babies should be placed in the middle of the back seat of a car. Fathers can also help around the house by baby-proofing low cabinets and electrical outlets.

For more information on parenting and parenting classes, call Southern Regional at (770) 541-1111 or Henry Medical Center at (770) 389-2143.