You are about to witness the strength of suburb knowledge.
The first book Angela and I bought after we found out about the pregnancy was What to Expect When Your Expecting. Heralded as the “Pregnancy Bible,” the book has sold over eighteen million copies since it first debuted in 1984. Every couple has it. LITERALLY everyone that is pregnant owns this book, and I only use the word “literally” when I am being completely serious. It is truly the Tide sample/Frampton Comes Alive of pregnancy books. Double Live Gonzo, dude.
As one would assume, most of it provides an overview of what women will experience during the course of their nine month pregnancy. Angela read it almost cover to cover within two days, commenting that it was both “straightforward” and “no nonsense.” Most reviews of the book say the exact same thing. What to Expect serves its purpose without pretension.
I wanted to be “in the know,” so I started to read it the moment she put it down. I was delighted to find there was a special section just for expecting fathers towards the end. The “Fathers Are Expectant, Too” chapter gives several pointers and suggestions about what men should do when their lady is preggo. As Angela said, it’s fairly straightforward, with such discussion titles as “Dealing with Her Symptoms,” “Feeling Left Out,” and “Surviving Her Mood Swings.” I read it quickly and put the book down feeling no less smarter about pregnancy than I was before I began.
Other books of a similar subject offer little help. The unofficial What to Expect for fathers (What to Expect While Your Wife is Expanding), is more humorous than informative. The first item brought up in the book’s main section (“What You May Be Concerned About”) discusses the horrific possibility of NOT having constant sex during the pregnancy. It’s as if they assume that a man’s genitals shrivel up when the blue line crosses the other on the pregnancy test. Worse than that, these authors have probably convinced countless men in the process. No, just no. I don’t want to be a punchline, just a good father.
There are good books on the subject out there, I just haven’t found them yet. And to be honest, I don’t know if I need to choke down the generalities anymore. Too basic. Too straightforward. The pumpkin spice latte of fatherly advice. To make matters worse, I think what these authors are basically trying to say to every expectant father is to NOT BE A DICK. That’s what it all boils down to, really. Why couldn’t they just say that and save 20 pages of material? How many trees can we save if we just said what we are all thinking? The earth mother weeps for you, mom and dad.
If I had to write my own book on expectant father’s, it would be one page long and simply read “Don’t Be a Dick.” Done.
It’s pretty simple. It has become my guiding principle since I first realized it. I have found over the past two and a half months that my needs are far outweighed by Angela’s. She is the one carrying my child, so naturally I should be the one who should shut up and focus on her issues from time to time. Let me first say that I’m not submitting to becoming a doormat. I am simply recognizing that life is far more difficult for her than it can ever be for me at this point. If I follow this one guiding principle, my reward is pretty sweet: a healthy baby girl. Why would I not make sure she is taken care of?
As a rule of thumb, I always make sure our conversations do not sound like I’m complaining about something, because she has a fetal trump card that is Aces high ten times out of ten. For example:
Me: “Oh man, I am really tired. I worked really hard today.”
Angela: “I know you do. I’m sorry you’re tired. I love you.”
And the full translation:
Me: “WAHHHHHHHHHHHH WAHHHHH WAHHHHHHH.”
Angela: “SHUT THE FUCK UP.”
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place when I can vent about my troubles with her. I think what is important is understanding WHEN to lay down those cards. I made the mistake very early on in the pregnancy of attempting to get frisky. I think I said something along the lines of “love making” or “physical connection” (maybe I was worried my testicles would shrivel up?). She shot me a look like:
From then on, I understood: DON’T BE A DICK (even when she doesn’t want it). And the funny thing is, she doesn’t have to be. I know she is interested in it. How the hell did we get into this mess in the first place?
I don’t think Angela want’s to get sexy. I think she wants to hear things that make her feel sexy, and those words usually don’t relate to how she looks or feels. Those words can include, but are not limited to:
- “I’ll do the dishes and cook dinner”
- “How many McChicken’s do you want?”
- “I want you to get your rest”
- “Let’s go shopping for makeup!”
You might not want to do these things. I can honestly say that the thought of fast food makes my stomach turn because of the frequency in which I have procured such vittles over the past two months. The most valuable things I learned thus far about pregnancy are not in any book that I know of. Here is my short list:
1. Make Her Laugh
We have been through a few rough patches over the course of the pregnancy. That doesn’t mean that I can’t take a few moments to do the “Mike Dexter” dance from Can’t Hardly Wait in my underwear to make her smile a bit before bed. A little smile goes a long way, especially after she spent the course of the day eating laxatives like candy and throwing up every hour.
2. Leave Her Alone
Let me be clear: I am still TERRIBLE AT THIS. Whenever she wants to be alone, I feel the need to attach myself to her like a lamprey. I tell her I am restless and writhe around the bed like a chicken with its head cut off. I know now that the time she spends along might be special time with our growing daughter, and I want to respect that. It’s not all the time, but painfully obvious when it does occur. I think the best thing any guy can do is leave enough space to be heard but not seen. She’ll let you know when she wants you there.
3. Know When to Smother Her
As much as I want to give her space nowadays, I have found that there are times when she wants to be bombarded with affection. No, I am not talking about sex. A peen does not affection make. I am talking about kisses and snuggles and the magic that comes with watching a child develop before your eyes. I can’t describe it any better than that: it’s magic. I have to keep asking Angela if she is a wizard.
Above all, it is important to not be a dick to your partner. Make her laugh and feel special. Let her know that you will always be there and can’t wait to meet your child.