Dear Dad in Waiting
So your other half’s pregnant… congratulations and well done! You’re probably feeling elated / terrified / proud / shocked / anxious (delete as applicable). Actually you’re probably feeling all that, and a bit more.
What next? First thing, breathe! Don’t worry that you might not be feeling the “right” emotions, or in fact anything at all. Biology and evolution are going to play a big role in your life for a little while, and it doesn’t all start immediately. Don’t even think about fretting about the future because if pregnancy’s one thing, it’s unique.
Next, throw away all your previously held views on pregnancy and child birth; the conceiving and rearing of a child is an entirely new and comletely overwhelming part of anyone’s life. Chucking your half-arsed ideas, prejudices and beliefs into the mix to start with won’t help anything. Let’s face it, they’re all probably based on films, Casualty and some dimly remembered episodes from All Creatures Great and Small where Herriot has his hand up a cow’s rear. So, clean slate yet? Good, now start to fill it with books, and the experiences of other Mums and Dads, but crucially, don’t start to draw any conclusions yet! Breast/ bottle, hospital/ home… not an issue yet.
Everyone has an opinion on pregnancy and childbirth. From the sensible, but old fashioned (your Mum), to the completely crazy (your Dad), to the horrifying (your non-pregnant best friend), they’ve all got their own ideas, and boy, they’ll want to tell you. You know why there’s such a wildly varying set of ideals? It’s because none of them suit every pregnancy. In fact, every pregnancy is different, both in the biology and the chemistry between you and your partner. We’ll come onto making decisions later.
In these early days, how are you going to stay afloat? Simply put, your role as Dad splits into three:
3. Bringer Of Things
1. Gatekeeper- watch Oprah or Jeremy Kyle and learn the “talk to the hand” gesture. Once practised and perfected, use it on EVERYONE who wants to tell you their horror story about childbirth. Really, just don’t listen. Some people don’t get prepared, or are truly unlucky, or get caught up in unnecessary medical procedures and have a bad time of it. They feel like their pregnancy was a failure, so exaggerate it into a dark comedy and use the telling of it as therapy. That’s not going to happen to you, so don’t listen. Your delicate flower of a mother to be doesn’t want to be terrified from minute 1. It’s your job to intercept and destroy!
2. Comfortor- morning sickness is a misnomer. If your other half gets it, it can be “All day sickness that just goes on and on and on for bloody weeks”. Ever felt sea-sick? It’s just like that, but there’s nowhere to get off. So don’t be surprised that after the eighth week of vomitting and feeling your nauseous your delicate flower turns into a man eating demon that just wants your broken body hanging from its slavering jaws. Swallow all your pride, agree with her, say “Yes Darling” a lot, mop her troubled brow and tell her it will all come to an end. Talk to the doc, there are perfectly safe drugs (e.g. cetirizine) that can help. Don’t let her get to the dehydrated stage where hospitalisation can be necessary. Don’t focus on week number N, when the books say it will finish. It won’t finish to anyone’s schedule, but it will finish at some point!
3. Every carried a bowling ball around for nine months? Trust me, you’d want stuff brought to you as well.
Next: Making some decisions