8 reasons why pregnancy makes fathers tired

Pregnancy can be rough on fathers as well as the mothers. It's clearly understood that pregnant women undergo lots of changes which leave them feeling tired, but it's not always addressed that those who are on their way to fatherhood can experience fatigue as well. Based on absolutely no laboratory research of my own, yet backed with a keen eye, I've assembled the 8 reasons why pregnancy makes fathers tired.

1. Late night snack runs.
Quite a few times during this pregnancy I have found myself out at night , past my normal bedtime, on a hunt to find a candy bar, a coconut cake or some macaroni and cheese. I don't have any problem doing so, and it's not like I'm out for hours at a clip, but it is a change to my schedule. More often than not, I end up eating some of what I buy for my wife.

2. Changes in diet.
An expectant father's diet is going to change from pre-pregnancy norms. Like I said in #1, I often end up eating some of the tasty treats I've gotten to feed my wife's hormonal hunger. In addition to the periphery of snack foods, the first trimester diet is often bland, and also includes less whole grains. This, combined with more snackey foods, leads to an increase in sugar and carbohydrates which may cause your insulin levels to gyrate, pack on a few pounds and make you fatter and sleepier in the process.

3. She wakes you up on the way to the bathroom.
Pregnant women pee with a regularity and frequency to which you can calibrate sensitive instruments. She's going to pee all the time, and the nighttime hours are no exception. In the process of making nocturnal bathroom trips she will inevitably wake you. This is particularly intensified in the later months when The simple act of getting out of bed requires a complex series of movements that look like a drunk man trying to get on his feet after falling from a bar stool. Several hundred calories are burned in the process, by the way, so you may need to get her a snack.

4. Baby room preparation.
Depending on how much work is going into your nursery, baby room preparation can be a black hole of energy and sanity. I personally removed more than twenty bags of plaster, each weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 pounds each in 90 degree heat. Needless to say, it made me tired

5. Increased household duties.
A pregnant woman's energy level and physical ability to do certain things around the house will diminish, and the slack must be picked up by you, the expectant father. While my wife has a decidedly severe clean streak in her personality, she has begun to slow down and isn't able to do quite as many things as she used to. Assuming that you usually split household duties, you'll have to pick up some extra slack to make sure things get done.

6. Getting yelled at takes a lot out of you.
(Please note, this has not happened to me. My wife is a saint.) It's emotionally tiring to be crabbed at and complained about. It may not happen often, or it may be several times a day depending on her personality and how far along she is, but most likely your pregnant partner will yell at you. Even if it isn't straight out yelling, there will be some emotional turbulence ranging from crocodile tears to women wanting to punch you in the nuts. She's hormonal and maybe scared, so you should do your best to get through it and not explode at her. Biting your tongue burns lots of calories, thus tiring you out.

7. Reduced exercise and activity levels.
As your schedule fills, the time available for exercise or peripheral activity decreases. Even if you don't work out five times a week, things like outside work, walks, pickup basketball or the ability to move more than ten feet away from your pregnant partner without her clinging to you affects your energy levels. Exercise is invigorating and makes you feel more energized. Pregnant women steal free time with the ease and glee of a bully stealing lunch money at school.

8. Increased stress levels.
Health, finances, nursery, pushy advice, family, work and health insurance are a subset of the things that increase the amount of stress that you'll experience as an expectant father. Stress works in a a tricky way. First, it makes your mind run like a Kenyan marathoner so it's not always easy to wind down at the end of the day. You expend more energy and can't sleep as well. Second, stress causes a release of cortisol in your body that not only helps pack on a few pounds by messing with your blood sugars, over time it will make you feel depressed and anxious.

On an interesting side note, items 1,2,7 and 8 also contribute to weight gain, which is part of the notorious couvade syndrome.

Naming your child after a Godfather character

The other day I wrote a post on InsideFatherhood.com about a potential name I suggested to my pregnant wife for our unborn son. When I originally verbalized my brilliant candidate, she gave me a look as though I had eaten paint chips as a child, which coincidentally is a family favorite.

Obviously she doesn't have a well textured understanding of the bit parts in the Godfather movies. The name I suggested happened to be a small character the films, and I provided this little clue to the readers:

It was the name of the baker in the Godfather who was bringing flowers to Vito Corleone in the hospital when Michael met him on the stairs.

Nobody got it.

Well apparently Mike over at Stroller Derby agrees with my thoughts as to why **** is in fact the person from the Godfather after whom I should name my child. I blocked out the potential name, you'll have to read my original post at Inside Fatherhood if you want to see what it is.

Almost A Dad, questions and answers

Today is question and answer day for all you readers out there in blog land. If you have any burning questions about pregnant women, pregnancy, expectant fathers, me, this blog, what really happened to Tony Soprano or anything else, just leave a comment with your question or email me through my profile. I'll write up the Q & A in an upcoming post.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Expectant Father Survey extracts, part deux

The following are a few extracts from my ongoing expectant father survey.

- Only 23.1 % of expectant fathers who responded think there is enough pregnancy-related information available specifically for dads.

- 38.5% of all respondents were either completely surprised by, or weren't expecting altered or hormonal behavior in their pregnant partners.

- 30.8% of respondent fathers talk to their pregnant partner's belly every day. Another 46.2% do so "every now and then."

When asked what "crazy" behavior expectant fathers had seen in their pregnant partners, one respondent answered:

"My partner pulled a bag of pickles out of her purse the other day while we were riding along in the car. Not so strange, until she pulled out a small jar of peanutbutter to dip them in."

You handle the womb, I'll handle the room.

I received a question the other day from a reader, Ricky, who asked: How's the nursery coming along?

Thanks for asking Ricky.

He was asking in reference to a post from about three weeks ago when I mentioned that Baby room prep was my own little corner of pregnancy hell. Things had been progressing slowly until this weekend when I made some major strides. Most notably, you can now see the floor.

After removing more than twenty 34 gallon contractor bags of plaster and insulation, and chucking hundreds of strips of wood lathe out the window, finishing the room is reasonably within reach.

I'm incredibly excited about being able to provide a fresh, new room for our child. I've previously mentioned that I talk to my wife's belly because it helps me form a bond with our friendly little fetus. Preparing the nursery is something that gives me a similar sense of participation and involvement with my child. While he obviously won't experience the room until after birth, I feel like creating a safe, comfortable and friendly room the male counterpart to providing a womb to shack up in for nine months.

I'll post more pictures as things progress and I equip the room with accouterments such as walls and a ceiling.

A voilent attack of pregnancy leg cramps

A quick crack of a foot to my shin woke me from my sleep at midnight last night. Not knowing what was going on, I quickly grappled my assailant and forced her to submit before I realized my wife was having an agonizing muscle cramp. I could tell this was an involuntary reaction as pregnant women prefer to punch and slap as opposed to kicking. Again, one of the things that expectant fathers should be aware of which I was not; pregnant women often have very painful leg cramps.

Doctors seem to attribute these little muscular fits to a variety of factors from extra weight to low magnesium.

Tips to help expectant fathers with a pregnant woman's leg cramps at night:
1. Wear shin pads
2. Wear ear plugs
3. Develop an intimate rapport with tae kwon do
4. Learn some basic stretching techniques like pointing and flexing her feet for her to help articulate those frozen, cramping muscles.

Tips for mothers dealing with pregnancy leg cramps:
1. Stretch your calves regularly. Try standing on your toes on the edge of a step and letting your body weight pull down to stretch the calf. Do this on a bottom step and make sure hold on to a railing, your balance and weight distribution are changing and it's important to make sure you don't fall.
2. Try a prenatal vitamin to make sure your mineral levels are in check. Check with a doc first.
3. Stay active and try to take walks frequently.

Hopefully this will help prevent another victim like me.

Is honey safe for pregnant women?

Many pregnant women are concerned about their diet during pregnancy, as well they should be. However they often have a hard time discerning which foods should be avoided due to science and those that are the product of bad advice and old wives tales.

One contested item in the realm of pregnancy nutrition is honey. No, not the Maria Carey song of the same name which should be avoided in pretty much every circumstance, but rather the bee and nectar byproduct.

While honey should not be ingested by children, it is safe for both pregnant and nursing mothers.

The reason that kids should avoid honey is that it may contain botulinum spores which could thrive in the low-acid digestive tracts of children. It is fine for pregnant and nursing women, though, as their more mature and acidic digestive systems will kill the spores.

You may have learned this from a George Clooney era episode of E.R., but this article from iVilliage has all the info.

Classical Music in utero

From an early age my brother and I often amused ourselves with brain games like 'push your brother down the stairs' and 'jump in the mud'. As we matured into young men we progressed to other activities like making kung-fu movies and dragging each other across the lawn from the bumper of the car. They were all incredibly fun at the time but part of the reason my parents would cringe at our behavior with the regularity of a metronome. In my brother's defense, he went on to graduate from MIT. I, on the other hand, am still an idiot. I would actually be inclined to continue lots of these activities if we lived closer together.

To offset his genetic predisposition, I'm trying whatever I can to make sure my son is a little sharper than his old man. Plus, my wife will worry excessively if he tries to occupy himself in any fashion similar to how my brother and I often would. To distance the apple from the tree, I've started playing classical music to my son in utero. The so-called theory of the "Mozart Effect" suggests that playing classical music to babies in the womb can help stimulate brain activity. Many boldly claim it will make your baby a genius. More importantly (to me, anyway) there is evidence that it stimulates the brain's alpha waves, thus creating a calming effect.

Last night I plugged in some headphones to my iPod and put on Bach's Goldberg Variations, a personal favorite of my own. I placed one of the ear buds face-down into her belly button and the other lower down on her abdomen beneath her waist band to keep it in place. I was a little nervous about the volume being excessive because we all know how Bach rocks the harpsichord.

I must say I was slightly skeptical of the claims that you can 'engineer' a baby genius, but the results were amazing. Within moments we realized that my wife's belly button began pulsing distinctly... it was Morse code! Brilliant, classical music taught my unborn son Morse code!

"Don't believe the hype" he deliberately tapped out. What a freethinking fetus, negative three months and he's already like his dad!

Okay, so maybe that's slight exaggeration, but his movement clearly increased with the start and fluctuations within the music. From this I can glean that he is hearing and responding to the stimulus of the music, and it's great music at that.

I'm going to love him regardless of his IQ, so creating a baby Einstein isn't really my goal in this. However, if I can make him a little more calm and possibly more aware when he's born, then it's worth the few minutes of putting on some good tunes before bed.

Pregnancy nutrition, a healthier grilled cheese sandwich

So I was awoken the other night as my wife flopped around in a hungry, hormonal tantrum. It turns out she wanted some grilled cheese. She burned the first batch and almost cried in the process, so I got up and made us a snack.

Grilled cheese is a tasty and relatively easy and tasty treat, but can also be an unhealthy dietary addition. I had just written a post on real food, so I thought this might be a good tie in to eating healthfully in the face of a violently hungry pregnant woman.

With a few minor tweaks your can turn this perennial favorite into a much healthier treat.

1. Use multi-grain bread.
Multi-grain bread has more fiber and more complex carbohydrates, so it won't break down as quickly and cause insulin spikes.

2. Add slices of tomato or onion.
This is a quick and easy way to add some nutritious vegetables to your diet. These two veggies always add great flavor as well.

3. Use healthier cheese.
Typical American cheese is very high in fat. Using provolone or low-fat cheddar will cut at least half the fat and calories of American cheese slices.

Follow these steps and you've got a much healthier spin on an old classic.

Real Food

Yahoo! Food is featuring a segment on "real food", and seeing as how my pregnant wife eats with the voracity of a hungry shark, I began thinking about what I considered to be “real food”. My immediate thought was that it is a key element in a healthy lifestyle and ensuring my wife has a successful pregnancy. But while the countless elements of real food make it difficult to define, to me the concept is very specific. Real food has a personality and begs to be prepared. It is food that is fresh, flavorful and nourishing. It is food you experience, not just a meal you eat and forget.

The concept of 'real food', like beauty, lies with the beholder. In my eyes, food is indeed beautiful and has been a central theme in my relationship with my wife for the past few years. Our meals and our diet are things that extend beyond filling enough calories to get us through the day.

We started a cafe together, and for years observed the public's relationship with food. During that time we noticed a divergence in people; to some a meal was a requirement packed into a busy schedule, while others were invested in what they ate. This was an important distinction in defining what real food means to us. My wife and I experience food, meals are an event, food is enjoyed and prepared carefully.

Now that my wife is pregnant, we make sure that the foods we eat are real by a more scientific definition. We eat lots of unprocessed foods and organics whenever able. This includes tons of fruits and veggies and using all natural flavors and seasonings. My wife is a brilliant cook and has always had a wonderful way of combining fresh ingredients with out losing their distinct flavors. As we sat down to eat lunch today, my interpretation of 'real food' struck me. She had sliced up some grilled chicken and served it on a whole-grain baguette with fresh beefsteak tomatoes, red onion, honey mustard, baby spinach, Brie and avocado. The sandwich had a distinct overall flavor, yet I could taste each individual item's rich contribution in this tasty concoction.

Real food is a sensory event, ranging from the color contrast of red and yellow peppers, to the smell of a pie baking or the sizzling sound of chicken on a grill. Finding your own real food is an evolution. Become a foodie. Enjoy what you eat. Make distinctions for yourself that help you experience food, anything from switching to sea salt from table salt or slicing your own cheddar instead of buying pre-sliced American cheese.

Anything that is doctored too much loses its flavor. Real food really shouldn't change much between when it was grown and when you prepare it. Grains should be whole, fruits and veggies should be fresh and meats not loaded with hormones. Food isn't found in wrappers and boxes in nature and we try and keep that in mind when shopping.

Turkey timer belly button

Nature has an incredibly useful way of letting expectant women know that their pregnancy is coming into the home stretch. As if the bulging belly and inability to go 30 seconds without resting, peeing or eating weren't evidence enough, many women will start to get an extra cue from their belly button.

Much like a pop-up turkey timer lets you know when your bird is done, a pregnant woman's belly button lets you know when your bun is almost ready to come out of the oven, too. As the belly expands more in late pregnancy it presses on the tissue in your belly button and often causes an "innie" to become an "outie". While this doesn't happen for everyone, it is a relatively common occurrence, often starting around the sixth month.

I like to push on my wife's pregnant belly button; it's a little squishy, yet resilient. It reminds me of a little priming pump you find on the side of a gas-powered weed whacker. While hers is not yet a complete outie, it will probably get pretty close at some point in the next three months.

A little fashion tip for pregnant mommies who don't want their turkey timer belly buttons poking through their shirts, use a band-aid or a little bit of tape to keep that bad boy in check.

Pregnancy advice gone awry

Since my wife and I have announced our pregnancy, we have been deluged with highly opinionated advice. Many of these people, who we are not particularly close to, freely dispense of their wisdom without thinking twice. Not only do they try to scare us, but the methods they prescribe clearly have not worked for their own little monster children.

As I've mentioned in the past, people not only presume that expectant fathers are idiots, they procede to tell you why your child will be behind the curve. "Oh, you want to bring your kids outside before the age of two? Fresh air will burn their lungs and make them stupid."

I figured a deluge of irksome or bad pregnancy advice couldn't be something unique to our experience, so I asked for others' experiences on Yahoo! Answers. These little gems of advice are actual suggestions and that expectant mothers and fathers have received in the course of their own pregnancies.

"I did cocaine with my kids and they're all okay!" (In response to a mother's concern that she inadvertantly continued smoking cigarettes before she was aware of her pregnancy.)"

"I was told not to eat red grapes by an idiot doctor because it would turn the baby's face red. LOL He is not a doctor anymore!"

"I was told to drink two to three alcoholic drinks a day, and not believe what the doctors said about alcohol and pregnancy. The alcohol would help me stay relaxed, and the baby would be calm when it was born. The nut-job said she drank through all of her pregnancies and the kids are great. Obviously I didn't follow her advice!!!!"

"[She] tried to tell me that based on her experience that I'll know I'm going into labor because I'll have to pee alot. Well with that said I told her, well i've been labor all 9 months because all I do is pee! .. She was a complete moron and had no children of her own or experience with babies."

"The only bad thing I've been told is that you should always get an epidural. I react badly to pain meds so I'm opting out and everyone is telling me that I will regret it. If it saves me and my baby, no I won't."

"*EVERYONE* told me to stock up on bottles and formula because I probably wouldn't be able to breastfeed."

"One thing [my mother-in-law] NAGGED me about was staying upright after I ate, because I had terrible morning sickness...but it made me miserabley uncomfortable and more likely to throw up if anything."

"She also tried to make me feel like I should be a little miss Suzy homemaker...I had a horrible pregnancy riddled with morning sickness until half through the last trimester, premature labor, alot of stress...and [my mother-in-law] wanted me to be at home looking pretty in a sparkling house with a roast on the table, giving everything to the bread winner and not getting anything for myself."

"Another thing was everyone telling me to take the drugs...I wanted a drug free labor, but ended up so -annoyed- at everyone I took them and ended up stopping my labor (after having gone from three centimeters to 8 in an hour) and causing me to have a c-secion. I wasnt happy."

"'Listen to your doctor'. This was the worst. My doctor was a jerk, and a moron. He's still convinced that babies cannot hear from inside the womb!"

Some people, or apparently even some doctors, may not have their heads in the right places when dishing out pregnancy-related advice to already nervous expectant mothers. Just keep in mind that a little common sense and some instinct will get you a long way... unless you think heavy drinking and cocaine are fine for babies; in that case you're just an idiot or Nichole Richie.

Pregnancy double takes: yes she's pregnant

Pregnant mom tee shirt
On our babymoon this weekend my wife and I both noticed that passers-by would look at her face, then at her belly. They would then look back at her face, and back down to her belly. Yes, she's pregnant.

My wife's face does not look pregnant and her 6-foot frame hides a lot of the baby weight, so I think when people notice a bump, they can't tell if she's expecting or just loves beer. The first time she pointed it out that people's eyes would ping-pong back and forth between her face and belly, I thought she was exaggerating because, well, she's pregnant. That's what they do, they exaggerate and then blame it on you and cry. But after a while I thought, "holy crap people, she's pregnant. Is that so unbelievable?!"

Regardless, I have a solution. Through the magic of Cafe Press, I've designed some "pregnant" maternity shirts. Available in black or white, they state in no uncertain terms that the wearer is in fact pregnant. I also made up a hat to the same end.

pregnant hant

Belly Conversations, signing off

As I mentioned before I have made a practice of talking to my wife's pregnant belly a couple times per day. I 'm hoping that hearing my voice in utero will not only help stimulate the baby but also help him develop some sort of affinity for me once he's born.

It has helped me to personalize my friendly fetus and has made him more real to me. While I don't often say much of any value, I realize recently that I don't like to stop talking to him without saying goodbye. Weird, I know, but I feel like I'm on a phone call with a friend and I don't want to just hang up on him. So I've developed a little catch phrase of my own for wrapping up pregnant tummy conversations.

Although not quite like Cronkite's "and that's the way it is," I have adopted a sign off of my own. Cronkite would probably scare the crap out of a child anyway. So now every time I talk to my baby I wrap up my monologue with "I hope you grow happy, healthy and strong."

Expectant fathers get clingy, too

My wife and I took a short babymoon to the beach this weekend as a last hurrah before the sprout arrives. It was nothing extravagant or overly active, but a nice break from the wound-up norm of baby room prep and baby product research.

Everything was booked solid and we were lucky to get a room, but my wife and I ended up in a room with two double beds instead of a king or the queen that we have at home. As I was laying there this morning looking across at her pregnant outline sleeping in the bed next to me I wanted to climb in next to her and hold her and rub her belly. Granted she was only a few feet away, but I wanted to be next to her. Laying there I realized that as my wife has gotten progressively more pregnant that I have become more attached and protective of her. She may have gotten clingy, but I have to; I don't like being away from her at all.

Don't get me wrong, it was great not to be woken a half dozen times a night when she gets up to pee. There is actually something endearing about the manner in which she gets her decreasingly mobile frame out of bed, ensuring I have six hours of regularly-interrupted sleep every night. The commotion of her flopping around as she tries to get out of bed makes me feel like I'm sleeping next to a marlin fighting a fisherman's line. However, as the sport fish to which I'm married leaves the room, I know I won't be able to get back to sleep until she gets back. I have to check on her, even if just with a quick "you ok?" She always is, but I have to ask.

It's part of the whole process and I want to go through it with her. I wish I didn't have to trudge off to work every morning and could spend the day with her, but I do, that's my reality. That's why the babymoon is nice, it gives you both a little time together. But until such a time that I can spend all my time with her, I'm going to cling to that pregnant woman and let her know how much I love her.

Top 10 remedies to the Top 10 things not to say to a pregnant woman

A few days ago I listed the top 10 things not to say to a pregnant women, and today I've got some responses for damage control in case you happen to slip up and utter one of those phrases. You'll notice a pattern; the best way to diffuse a hormonal pregnant woman in many of these situations is a two step process of amuse and divert. However, some things you just can't get out of. Avoiding these phrases is the safest way to go, but if that doesn't work try the process of disappear and deny: get out of there and then pretend like it never happened afterwards.

And now, 10 things to say if you said one of the top 10 things not to say to a pregnant woman.

1. Statement: "I think cankles are sexy. "
Remedy: "I'm just kidding. You obviously don't have cankles!" Now run, insulting and sarcastic as I said before, this one is hard to get around. Buy her something nice. This mistake made twice will cost you your genitals if not your life.

2. Statement: "Those stretch marks will go away, right?"
Remedy: She may hit you, get quiet or start crying, or some combo there of. You need to buy something to fix this. Admit your insensitivity and buy her some good quality lotion or bio oil to help with stretch marks. Give it to her with a bow on it and apologize for being an insensitive ass.

3. Statement: "I'm not going to buy you new clothes if you keep outgrowing them."
Remedy: "I was just kidding, but it was insensitive none the less." Follow up and give her a gift card to a maternity store. The comfort she'll have from a few well-fitting items will more than offset the financial cost by reducing the amount of grief you'll have to put up with from her.

4. Statement: "Wow, that woman looks great for having two kids."
Remedy: "That must have cost a fortune in plastic surgery." Get catty, it's fine if it prevents personal injury.

5. Statement: "Why are you so tired?"
Remedy: Women hate when you show that you don't understand them, so turn this into a joke. "What, are growing another person or something?"

6. Statement: "What is wrong with you?"
Remedy: Follow immediately with "What, are you pregnant and tired or something?" She still may get her back up and claim she's not acting hormonal or strange. Back away slowly and don't turn around until she's out of sight.

7. Statement: "Will you get me something from the frigde?"
Remedy: If she's anywhere near the fridge and asks what, just say "a hug" because it's trap. If she doesn't throw something at you, she will remember that you asked her, in all her pregnant rotundity, to wait on you and will explode at a later date. If she's not near the fridge, just say "I'm kiding. Do you want anything wile I'm up?"

8. Statement: "You're starting to move like a [anything]. " i.e. "You're starting to move like a penguin."
Remedy: "I'm saying that of course because the penguin is a symbol of femenine beauty to the people of the Maldives." For this one you're hoping that:a. you can draw a positive parallel between the object (e.g. penguin, bear, truck) and your pregnant partner or
b. you can come up with a funny or obscure enough reference to make her laugh.
She still may hit you.

9. Statement: "You're not as much fun as you used to be."
Remedy: Again, keep it light and follow with "What, are you pregnant and tired or something?" Quickly divert conversation to focus on her. "How are you feeling by the way?"

10. Statement: "Are you really going to eat that whole sundae / sandwich / pizza ?"
Remedy: Follow immediately "Because I'd love a bite if you don't want it all."
Think on your feet, if you don't follow up quickly with this one, it won't work. If there is a delay try something like "I forget that you have to eat for two sometimes."

Rember, an ounce of prevention is worth at least a pound of blood that you'd lose if you actually say one of these things to your wife.

Dealing with hormonal pregnant women: don't make them feel crazier

Around 9:30 last night my beautiful and wonderfully pregnant wife tried to strike up a conversation with me while I was embroiled in some intense typing. It was basically a pregnancy snack request, but her approach was a little rough and somewhat out of the blue. The conversation went something like this:

"I'd like a candy bar and a back rub," she said to kick things off.
"A candy bar and a back rub?" I replied quizzically looking up from my laptop. She was laying on the floor doing some light yoga to stretch out her back at the time, and looked up at me with a grin that I just couldn't say no to.
"You're crazy. You know that don't you?" I replied with a smile. I turned my attention back to my screen in an attempt to finish my work before I set out to fetch a Three Musketeers.
"Why? I'm hungry," she said playfully.
"I'll go get you a candy bar," I admitted in a tone slightly frosted with defeat.
She shot back with "What, I can't get a back rub?" in a tone sharper than her initial request. I looked up a little disbelievingly.
"You're un-friggin-believable," I said, shaking my head and continuing to type.

As I neared the end of my work I realized that she hadn't said anything in a few minutes. A few minor sniffles perforated the silence of a commercial break on TV and quickly caught my attention.

"Are you crying?" I asked, somewhat disbelieving.
"No." And she wasn't. Not quite yet.
"What's wrong?" I pried.
As soon as she began to respond the waterworks let loose.
"I'm just really uncomfortable and I feel bad asking you to do all these things..."

She continued down her relatively short list of "why I'm crying" in a tone that sounded like an orgy of critically wounded geese, so I didn't pick up a lot of the finer points. I could tell those points didn't really matter. "My back hurts and I'm sorry that I’m hormonal" were the captions of her pregnancy-fueled, hormonally catalyzed mini-melt down.

I sat down next to her and told her that it was okay and I didn’t mind her requests at all, she just has to work with me a little sometimes. I said that I can only imagine all the changes that she’s going through and I’d do anything I could to help her. That made her cry more because she now felt worse that I was being understanding.

“How about I massage you with a candy bar?” She began to laugh. Laughter is a good way to diffuse a pregnant loon. So I rubbed her back for a little while and eased her back pain woes. The candy bar craving passed on its own at some point during the massage.

A few points of pregnancy wisdom I gleaned from this experience:

1. Don’t make a pregnant woman feel worse than she already does. It’s your job to keep quiet. Putting up with her craziness is the male analogy of experiencing hormones directly, it’s just something you have to go trough as part of pregnancy.

2. A pregnant woman may not even be aware she’s acting strange. If she isn’t, then don’t bring it to her attention. She may forget about what she did later on and only remember your reaction. I'm very lucky that my wife at least realizes when she's being irrational.

3. If a pregnant woman wants food, she wants it five minutes ago.

4. Don’t expect an apology from a pregnant woman, and don’t ask for one. If you happen to get one, that’s icing. Just support her lunacy and cravings, and keep in mind that she’s going through a tough time.

Free and low cost prenatal and neonatal care for pregnant women

Proper prenatal care, nutrition and appropriate medical attention are imperative for a healthy pregnancy. However with ever increasing health insurance and medical costs, it is incredibly expensive to stay insured or cover pregnancy-related expenses out of pocket. The costs of delivery are staggering and the expense of insurance doesn't seem much better.

Even though these costs can be quite prohibitive, there are resources available which may be able to provide free or low-cost prenatal care. In the US, the Health Resources and Services Administration can provide you with information on prenatal services in your area by calling 1-800-311-BABY.

The American Pregnancy Association also has information on insurance for pregnant women, including government-funded Medicaid and WIC programs which provide dietary supplements and referrals to health care services. The APA website also discusses other options for cost control during pregnancy, like delivering at a birthing center versus a traditional hospital.

You can also find out more about prenatal care by contacting the National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC) at 1-800-994-9662.

Gender: When will I see my baby's parts?

I ran into a couple of pregnant friends earlier today and I began running down the usual tick-list of pregnancy questions:

How far along are you now?
How are you feeling?
Do you have more energy?
When is your next ultrasound?
etc., etc., etc.
By the way, a list similar to this is what signifies that you're in the know with the impregnated crowd. It's like a verbose, drawn out hand shake. The more snobbishly detailed your question, the higher your rank in pregnancy hierarchy. Ask enough and you're qualified to deliver a child.

When I got to the ultrasound question, the pregnant mother said she hoped that she wouldn't be able to see its parts yet because they didn't want to know the gender of the baby in advance. This leads to a question that I have been asked multiple times now, when are a baby's 'parts' visible via sonogram?

At our 10 week ultrasound I personally asserted that what the sonogram tech called an 'umbilical chord' was in fact proof that we were having a boy. However, at the behest of medical science, it was not verified until our 20-week ultrasound. So the official answer is that gender is typically verified by ultrasound in the 18-20 week range.

Top 10 Things Not to Say to pregnant women.

As I've said before, conversation with a pregnant woman is a tricky proposition. Hormones, physical discomfort and general craziness make pregnant women irritable and conversation difficult for dads. That being said, here are ten things an expectant father should never say to the pregnant mother of his children. In the days to follow I'll offer some minor verbal remedies to these foot-in-mouth mistakes if you've ever crossed the line.

Let me preface this list by saying that when I posed a similar question on Yahoo! Answers about the worst thing a fathers have said pregnant women, I received some absolutely horrendous answers. It made me wonder if I had accidentally posted to a group for Jerry Springer guests.

On a serious note and above and beyond the somewhat comical items listed below, pregnancy is not the time to bring up major questions, like whether or not you want to stay with the mother. That is something you should have confronted before you and your partner conceived. If the opportunity previously did not present itself, then wait until the appropriate chance does, but don't just run off. Things often don't work out between people, I understand, but the stress cause abandoning a mother during pregnancy could cause harm to your child.

If you think you just can't handle it and are run off on a woman you got pregnant, grow a set and keep them in your pants next time.

And now, 10 things not to say to a pregnant woman.

1. "I think cankles are sexy. "
Insulting and sarcastic, this one will cost you. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term cankles, it is when a person's ankles are as wide as their calves.
Calves + ankles = cankles.

"Those stretch marks will go away, right?"
Women loath stretch marks and are sensitive about them. You'll probably never see her naked again.

"I'm not going to buy you new clothes if you keep outgrowing them."
Her credit card will probably start smoking soon from overuse during a spite-inspired shopping spree.

"Wow, that woman looks great for having two kids."
You don't say that to a woman who isn't pregnant.

"Why are you so tired?"
She is going to tell you why. In great and graphic detail. She may use one of the pregnancy terms I mentioned before. “Well, maybe because my uterus is stretching to over 1,000 times its normal size!”

"What is wrong with you?"
Have you spoken to a woman before? Do you never learn?

"Will you get me something from the frigde?"
Unless she's within relative proximity to the refrigerator, any item she retrieves from there will be delivered at high speed and aimed at your head.

"You're starting to move like a [anything]. "
Brace yourself, she will both hit you and cry, but not necessarily in that order.

"You're not as much fun as you used to be."
This will go one of two ways, either silence or verbal tirade from her. Either way, don't expect to talk to her for at least another ten minutes. If it does go the way of the tirade, expect some more pregnancy vocab words.

"Are you really going to eat that whole sundae / sandwich / pizza ?"
Don't make a fat joke. Don't make a fat joke. Don't make a fat joke. Just make sure you're not making her feel self conscious about eating and that she does get proper nutrition.

Baby Room Prep - My Own Little Corner of Pregnancy Hell

The results of the expectant father survey so far have indicated that 70% of respondents are not at all bugged by or stressed about preparing a room for their baby.

However, 100% of respondents are not dealing with this:

I'm completely demolishing the baby's room, right down to the rafters and studs. Currently the baby's room has no ceiling and only two walls, and I enter and exit the room via a ladder from the attic.

If you're wondering why I'm not wearing a shirt during in the picture, it's because the room gets unbearably hot with no shades and no air conditioning. During demolition I quickly get dehydrated from the heat and I'm trying not to exit and enter the room a lot so I don't track dust and debris through the house.

Top 10 pregnancy terms that make men (and women) cringe

Many pregnancy and childbirth related topics have the ability to make men cringe with speeds nearing that of light, myself included. Often times a particular visual may trigger this reaction. The sight of a baby's head crowning during birthing scene in the movie Knocked Up had that effect on me. I yelled "oh!" so loud in the middle of the theater I sounded like Andrew Dice Clay.

Other times a word or two to is all that is require to make a man recoil in fear. Below are ten of the worst offenders. These words are inevitable as pregnant women like to surprise you by suddenly discussing something in mid-sentence that is best reserved for an ObGyn desk reference manual.

Of the following phrases, some sound worse than they are while others are nasty in expression and by definition. These are legitimate, frequently used terms in pregnancy in birth, so I'm just preparing you expectant fathers. I'm not trying to scare you, just preview what is in store for you. I may offer brief, non-scientific definitions for those terms which are sound worse than they are. For others I will make no further reference, not even a hyperlink. If you're so inclined, look it up yourself as I don't want any part of it.

1. Mucous Plug - kinda like an internal baby cork

2. After Birth - look it up yourself

3. Fundus
- the top of the uterus

4. Cracked nipples
- ouch!

5. Leukorrhea
- look it up yourself

6. Perenial
tear - a tear in perineum (a.k.a 'taint)

7. Bloody show
- occurs within 24 hours of labor, look it up yourself for more detail

8. Membrane rupture
- look it up yourself

9. venous thrombosis
- a blood clot, typically in the leg

10. Any term with "stretching" or "tearing"

Pregnancy nutrition, an ongoing tale of night time snacks

The pregnancy-induced cravings are getting increasingly frequent and terribly tempting for me.

Last time it was macaroni and cheese, but on tonight's menu a particularly tasty, nutrition-light offering: two freshly-baked chocolate chunk cookies sandwiching a layer of ice cream and a generous spread of peanut butter. She's definitely trying to sabotage me so I don't lose any more weight.

Across a crowded womb: kicked by a fetus

I had a truly amazing experience last night; a fetus kicked me in the face. Granted, there was a womb between us, but I could clearly feel my son firmly snap-kick my face and follow up with a right-cross.

As impressed as I was with his ability to throw effective combos, I was completely awestruck when I realized that he was responding to the sound of my voice. As I mentioned a while back, I talk to my wife's big pregnant belly every night and every morning. Up until yesterday I had no idea if my words were just falling on partially formed ears, but last night I realized he was listening.

My face was pressed gently against my wife's belly as I rambled on about strollers with cup holders when I felt a jab. I immediately started to laugh.
"Did you feel that?!" I asked.
"He hasn't been moving until you started talking. That's for you." I was completely amazed. I started talking again and sure enough the kicks and pokes began as well.

I wasn't completely convinced his pugilistic display was solely for my benefit, so I waited for a while without talking and got no kicks. When morning came, I put my face up to my wife's belly and said good morning. I could feel the tremor of hands and feet thumping against my wife's tummy.

I know the idea of getting smacked every time I speak to my child will quickly grow tiring once there is no longer padding between us, but I've still never been so thrilled to get punched in the face.