WHAT MORE COULD ALFRED L.
Goldson want? He is a personable, accomplished man, married 13 years to an attorney, Amy Robertson Goldson. They have a lovely house with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and they drive high-performance automobiles. A 1972 graduate of Howard University Medical School and now chairman of Howard University Hospital's Department of Radiotherapy, Goldson is famous in his field of cancer research. And to top off his good fortune, on St. Patrick's Day he and his wife had a beautiful baby girl, who is named, appropriately, Erin Nicole Goldson.
Sounds like Goldson has everything, right? But Goldson didn't feel that way. The birth of his daughter made him instantly aware that he was missing one thing. Or actually two things. Breasts. Sure his wife had them, and she intended to nurse the baby, but he didn't and couldn't. And that was the problem.
He knew from the medical literature how important infant bonding is, how crucial breast-feeding is to that bonding, and he was jealous. "We were discussing how fathers interact with kids," Goldson remembers, "and I told my wife that I was going to be very active, but she said, 'You can do a lot, but you still can't nurse the baby!' It was like a friendly competition," he says with a laugh. "I had to come up with an idea how I was going to nurse, or pseudo-nurse, this baby."
Thus was born what is now called the Baby Bonder (other more ribald names were considered but discarded). This patent-pending invention of Goldson's is a terry cloth and fleece bib with fake breasts. Any adult, with baby bottle in hand, can just put on the bib and insert the bottle from the inside through the nipple openings on the bib itself. Voila`! A father can almost breast-feed.
Goldson was familiar with experiments done with monkeys by Harry F. Harlow of the University of Wisconsin. Harlow put one group of baby monkeys in cages with wire-mesh "mother" monkeys that had baby bottles for breasts; the other group he put in cages with wire-mesh "mother" monkeys that were wrapped with a soft terry cloth. The researchers, says Goldson, found that monkeys were much more likely to cling to the terry-cloth mothers than to the plain wire-mesh mothers. "So I used the terry cloth and added more than wire mesh. I added myself, a warm body, eye contact and a deep voice. I felt," Goldson adds good-naturedly, "that this would be the beginning of a quantum leap in bonding with my baby."
According to Goldson, little Erin Nicole took to the Baby Bonder right away, providing him with a tangible feeling of intimacy with the baby, his busy spouse with time for her career and the baby with what is likely a first -- a nursing father.
Goldson is waiting for approval of his patent application and searching for a manufacturer for the Baby Bonder. He'd like to keep the price affordable, and though he invented it for left-out fathers, he sees it as just as useful for non-nursing mothers, grandparents, friends and relatives. On a six-month sabbatical from Howard, he's due back October 1. He's already wondering how he'll wean Erin.