To improve our understanding of fathers
of preterm infants by examining their meanings of work
and exploring the impact of their work
on their early transition to fatherhood.
The sample included 9 white fathers
between the ages of 22 and 40 years, who had infants born between 25 and 32 weeks gestation.
DESIGN AND METHODS
This report explores one theme that emerged from a broader interpretive phenomenological study. Fathers
were interviewed 6 to 8 times over a 6-month period, beginning within 1 month of the birth of their infant and continuing after neonatal intensive care
unit (NICU) discharge. Interview guides were used only to initiate conversation; probing, clarifying questions helped fathers
provide detailed stories of what they did, thought, and felt about specific situations. Transcriptions of all 63 interviews were treated as meaningful text and analyzed using interpretive methods.
PRINCIPAL RESULTS Fathers
' narratives revealed the primacy of work
in their lives; work
remained a pivotal focus even after an early birth. Fathers
returned to work
quickly after their infant's birth. They approached their work
with a renewed sense of fervor in order to provide financially for their families. They found comfort in their work
because in the work
setting they felt that they were the experts, as opposed to feeling like novices in the NICU. The most stressful aspect of the experience was juggling their time between work
and the outside world.
may respond to the experience of having a premature infant very differently from mothers. Because fathers
' stressors often lie outside the NICU, their stressors may be invisible to healthcare providers. A deeper understanding of fathering must consider the social, familial, and historical processes that shape fathering practices.