Congratulations. Your wife/girlfriend/life partner/ex is pregnant. That’s a big deal. A life-changing, Earth-shattering, butterflies-and-rainbows-and-sunshine kind of big deal. But what do you do about it?
Hell if I know.
I’m 6 months into this and I still find myself feeling like a spectator, thinking, “Should I high-five her? Offer her a snack? Hide the chocolate? Hide myself?” I still don’t know the answer. Here’s what I do know.
1) Everyone is different. Your mileage may vary.
I’ve never had a pregnant wife before now. I have no basis for comparison. But I’ve heard a lot about what to expect and so far Meggin’s experience has not matched up very well with the well-published expectations, so therefore neither has mine.
It’s not a very helpful tip, I know. But as far as I can tell it’s an important one: you, nor she, nor her mom, nor anyone else will have any idea what her pregnancy will be like. You have to play it by ear and deal with it accordingly. Sure, prepare yourself for the common stuff and arm yourself with knowledge, but don’t be surprised if the preggo-times aren’t quite what you expected.
2) She has no control over any of it. Don’t forget that.
If your wife is and her pregnancy are anything like mine, this will be an important one. She’s kinda like Kane in the movie Alien, only not as—ya know—dead. She has this alien living inside her and that kid is kind of a jerk. I mean, it moves in—invited or otherwise—and just starts taking over. It messes with her hormones, her diet, her emotions, her weight (yea I said it.) It absolutely dominates her world and there’s nothing she can do about it.
Did you ever eat a huge burrito or some other epic meal that derailed your entire evening? You had big plans to go drinking with the guys, only to find yourself wheezing on a barstool, trying to muscle down a few sips of the lightest beer on tap? You spent most of the night kicking yourself for being so stupid and longingly thinking about how you would do things differently if you could go back in time? Until, at long last, your stomach does its damn job and you jump out of your barstool and call ‘next!’ on the pool table and hope you haven’t missed too much of the night already?
It’s kinda like that, only it lasts through 3 of mother nature’s seasons and it gets worse and worse, crescendoing into the last few weeks of sheer misery. She has no control over the jerk in her belly and she’s probably a little pissed at it for being such a jerk. If that pissed-off-ness bubbles over onto you once in a while, it’s not her fault. And it’s probably not yours either. You just have to deal with it. For god’s sake, man—she’s got a damn alien growing inside her! All you did was eat a burrito.
3) It might not sink in for you until the 2nd trimester.
This one is direct from my personal experience. We got the first positive EPT on July 1st, 2012, which also happened to be our one-year wedding anniversary (awww!). We saw the doctor the next day and had it confirmed. We told our families over 4th of July weekend and we were off to the races. The baby excitement hit both of us. We were thrilled and we knew we were in for some big changes. But that’s when I started to get sidelined.
When we got that news, she was already 5 weeks in. And about a week later, she started to feel it in a big way. She had morning sickness, hot flashes, mood swings (though not very many), the works. She not only was pregnant, she felt pregnant. Me? I felt nothing. I couldn’t see any baby. I couldn’t touch any baby. And I certainly couldn’t feel any pregnancy coursing through my veins. I described it then as surreal. I was detached and disconnected. I had no tangible connection to the baby so, as far as I was concerned (emotionally), it wasn’t real yet. Of course I knew it was real. But it didn’t feel that way to me yet.
That’s really bad timing and it’s a cruel joke played on us dudes by mother nature. Just when our pregatron wives are getting hit hardest by symptoms and side effects, we’re all like, “nah bro, it’s chill…nothin’ doin’ over here.”
The early ultrasounds don’t show anything more than a lima bean and it was pretty hard for me to feel connected to a lima bean (I hate beans anyway.) Hearing the heartbeat for the first time was pretty effing epic, though. That one definitely made it more real and more awesome.
When September rolled around, and she crossed into the 2nd trimester, she started to show a lot more. That’s when it started to hit me: my kid is in there. Over the next few weeks, she started to experience different effects: loss of balance, back pain, constant fatigue, and everyone’s favorite: heartburn (our kitchen windowsill looks like an ad for every antacid producer in America.) And the weird thing is: those side effects, as awful as they were (are) for her to endure, are the only things that made her pregnancy and the imminent birth of my child feel real. Those are the things that made it sink in for me.
Now, of course, we’ve had more ultrasounds and she’s getting much bigger. Trimester 3 is a lot of planning and logistics so far. Nothing more real than that…
4) I have no idea what I’m in for. But at least I know that.
Everyone says there’s nothing you can do to prepare. It will blind-side you and you can’t stop that no matter what. And so far, they’ve been right. No reason to think otherwise for the next few months and years. I’d like to say I’m ready, but how can we ever be ready for something that’s totally new and different? I know there’s no way for me to be ready. But I’m ready not to be ready. I had a professor in college who used to say, “don’t be confused about being confused.” It’s like that. I know that I don’t know. I guess that’s good, right?
So stay tuned, I guess. Further bulletins as events warrant. We’re past the hard part, as far as I can tell (minus that whole BIRTHING part.) From here on out, it’s get the house ready and make Meggin as comfortable as possible. We still have 3 holes in our kitchen floor (from air vents…not, like, “Money Pit” holes in the floor) and the baby’s room has no closet shelves yet. But otherwise, we’re in pretty good shape. Of course, once the kid comes, all bets are off!
Thanks for reading my nonsense. I hope it helps some other young father-to-be. It’s a fun ride. Hold on tight.
– TJ Kelly, first-time father-to-be