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June 13, 2012
By Sgt 1st Class Jeff Troth

CAMP CASEY South Korea -- They called it a baby shower but they could have called it Daddy Does Diapers (or tries).

Army Community Service at Camp Casey put on the shower June 2 at the post's Community Activity Center as a help to couples expecting a baby or who have had one in the last six months.

It aimed to foster good parenting skills and to make clear what services in Area I are available to ease couples through the challenges of new parenting.

Almost 60 parents, present or future, made the rounds of information tables laid out with flyers, magnets, booklets and CDs for their use.

But unlike most baby showers, the fathers were invited to this one.

Moms got a chance to turn the tables on the dads and dads-to-be with the Empathy Belly. The belly is a weighted "garment" that enabled the men to experience the effects of pregnancy.

While wearing the Empathy Belly the dads had to pick up items off the ground, tie their shoe laces, sit down and pick themselves up again -- and oh, no, wait a second, not that way, do it that way and you'll hurt the baby -- they were sometimes good-naturedly admonished by watchful moms.

Moms and dads also got to drill in the tactics, techniques and procedures of diapering, using doll-like mannequin infants to practice on.

The dads, for thier efforts, were awarded a "Military Daddy Diaper Bag." It's in the same camouflage pattern as the Army Combat Uniform.

"It beats flowers and lets you keep a little bit of that masculinity as you

walk down the street," said Chris Wilson, a soon-to-be-first-time dad. "The Empathy Belly was like having a fat suit on, with a lot of weight coming from your chest and stomach area."

There was also a big focus on the financial strains of new parenting.

Besides a newborn's need of diapers and formula, there are the costs of bassinets, strollers, cribs, clothes and those shoes which the little one is constantly kicking off.

"So we have Budgeting for Baby classes, which have a lot of information to help prepare you before and after the birth," said Doris Planas, financial readiness manager and Army Emergency Relief officer with ACS.

"It is definitely an adjustment having a baby here in Korea," said Latoya Wilson. "But the support that the community gives, that ACS gives, makes up for the family that you miss from home."

Those wanting more information on new parent support services can call ACS at 730-3107