Staff writer Frank Friedlander‘s post for this week gives the point of view of what a soon-to-be father can expect when the mother of their child is expecting. Have any entertaining stories or helpful suggestions you’d like to share? We love comments! Enjoy!
They say that there is no more magical time in a woman’s life than pregnancy. A new life is growing inside of her, perhaps two, but hopefully just one. No matter how much she tries to describe the wonder of this experience, words alone are simply not enough. However, as a sacrifice, an expectant mother’s body will undergo many unpleasant physical and emotional changes, and in turn, as will that of the expectant father. During pregnancy, surely every devoted husband has chivalrously spouted off the cliché: “If I could go through this for you, I would in a heartbeat.” This is, of course, very easy to say, and more importantly, a load of hogwash. If science were to come up with a procedure that was able to make this pledge a reality, we could only pray that our insurance wouldn’t cover it. Instead, during that first trimester of pregnancy, while you can only sit back as a wistful spectator as your beloved wife’s body and mind is twisted by evil hormones, those same hormones will lead the charge in an emotional siege of her husband which can last up to three months, and sometimes longer. And they say that women are the only ones to experience hardships during pregnancy.
As a devoted husband and father, it is our duty to cater to her every need and demand, regardless of how irrational, or flat-out bizarre it may seem to us. Similar to an elderly dementia patient, they will come to you with requests or sometimes accusations that are completely absurd, but any attempts you make may make to explain that to her are absolutely futile. It’s like having that boss that you have to walk on eggshells whenever they’re around. As soon as you detect his or her presence, you’d best find something to do and make yourself busy; if not, prepare for a world of hurt. The difference is that when 5:00 PM rolls around, you can escape the boss, but at home, that’s far from the case. Granted, you can try, but I assure you that it won’t end well. And I’m talking William Barrett Travis firing a cannon at General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna when the latter and his 2,000 some odd troops demanded that the former and his rag-tag bunch of rebels surrender the crumbling, adobe mission in which they were stationed type consequences. Granted, there are often times in which I’d like to escape through the wall, leaving behind a me-shaped hole. While it always seemed to work for Daffy Duck, if I were to try it, I’d more likely end up with a broken nose and a concussion; and even if it did work, the repairs would be quite costly, and with winter around the corner, they’d need to be made sooner than later.
What’s more, this is my second pregnancy. While one might think that it should be a breeze due to the fact that I’ve been through it all before, the rules have changed, and it’s an entirely different ballgame. Last time around, I only had the Pregnasaurus-Rex to contend with; and if I managed to keep my delectability to a minimum, confrontation was avoidable. This time around, when I am able to avoid her wrath, I run smack into the little Velociraptor that is our beloved two-year old Francesca, who’s sure to request a 3,000th viewing of Cinderella or to play with her water table outside despite the 50 degree weather, or any other in a series of not quite audible demands that must be somehow met, despite the fact that I have no idea what they are. More often than not, it turns out to be something simple like a box of raisins, putting socks on her hands, or helping her cover the dog in stickers, but by the time I’ve frantically solved her puzzle, my nerves are already shot.
An expecting father must be very cautious about what he says, about what he does, and certainly about what he eats around her. The other night, I suggested going out for Chinese food, and the reaction I got was one that might have been expected had I suggested a marinated squid’s liver, lovingly doused in pugs vomit. So yeah, you must also be aware of the exact aversions that she may be having that particular evening. For that first trimester, the advice I’ll give is similar to that which I’d give a four-year old whilst visiting Aunt Ethel in hospice: Speak only when spoken to; don’t do anything, and certainly don’t touch anything. The best strategy to survive this tremulous time in a man’s life is to sit quietly with your hands folded in your lap until instructed to do otherwise; when instructed to do otherwise, be ready to carry out said instructions post-haste. The good news it that once the first trimester comes to a merciful end, the most difficult part is behind us. Toward the end of the third trimester, her stomach aching will sometimes return, and with it, our headaches. Luckily, by this time, she’ll likely be too large to give chase if we chose to retreat following a faux pas of some sort.
As difficult as this time may be in an expecting father’s life, as I learned after the first pregnancy, the end result is well worth the trials and tribulations that we as fathers must weather during pregnancy. When you see that grayish, rubbery little person emerge, it’s the most surreal experience one can have, and words alone cannot express the wonder. What’s more, it won’t be long before your wife gradually returns to her loving self emotionally, and hopefully physically sooner than later, and is able to suitably express her appreciation for the agony that you have gone through over the course of the past nine months. Granted, over the next several months, we’ll awake to crying, screaming, dirty diapers, and unknown demands; but perhaps the whole reason fathers are put through the hardships of pregnancy is to prepare us for just that, a friendly warning of what to expect. If you can endure this difficult period, you can consider yourself well prepared, so long as you remember one magical phrase; “sorry hun, but the men’s room doesn’t have a changing table.”