Nibbling fetus, a quote

You will hear lots of strange things coming from a pregnant woman. My wife interrupted me in the middle of a sentence tonight with a mildly yelled statement;

"Ahhh, it feels like he's biting the back of my belly button!"
She was of course referring to Sprout, the fetus, and then bit my finger with the according amount of pressure so that I could experience it as well.

Warning: the second trimester is a trap!

The second trimester is a brilliant tactic of instilling a false sense of security in expectant fathers. After surviving the first trimester gauntlet of nausea, crankiness and ginger ale shopping sprees, months four through six shine an entirely new light upon the proposition of pregnancy.

If I may, a brief analogy.

During the second trimester the pregnant woman emerges from her cocoon of morning sickness. Like a butterfly, she unfurls her glowing wings of pregnancy to the world. She is very hungry after completing her journey through the first three months and so will eat anything in her path; meat, vegetable, pastry or any domestic animal that comes within reach (R.I.P. Fluffy).

The transformation is truly as amazing as that of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Excitement sets in as you both look forward to the bundle of joy which will be blessing you in a few short months. You quickly forget the discomfort of the first few months and figure the rest of pregnancy will be equally as joyful. The baby begins to grow and change rapidly, and so does the mommy. The beauty of a pregnant woman becomes a site to behold.

However, much like the butterfly, after a few months the beauty stage of the pregnant woman comes to an end, as does my analogy. Don't get me wrong, pregnancy and the pregnant woman are still beautiful, but the experience for the father begins to revert to a test of will and patience. Now begins what I call the 'irritated' phase (for everybody involved).

Her mobility decreases and irritability increases. The expectant mother will gain more weight, ache more and vent all of these frustrations on you. Now the reason I call the second trimester a trap is that if fathers had to deal with the experience of the first and third trimesters in consecutive terms, many of us would end up going insane or bleeding to death from biting our tongues in excess.

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Is cottage cheese safe for pregnant women?

In my post about quick nutrition for pregnant women I mentioned that "cottage cheese, possibly with some fruit mixed in, is a great way to get some protein." Following that post, a reader wrote and asked if cottage cheese is in fact safe for pregnant women because it is a "soft cheese."

This question refers to a warning that soft cheeses should be avoided by pregnant women. Originating before the prevalence of well marked foods, this guideline was intended to prevent consumption of unpasteurized cheese. Many soft cheeses used to fit this description so it became a blanket statement.

Today, however, most dairy products sold in the United States are already pasteurized and are packaged with detailed nutritional information which would indicate so.

According to an article on, the risk behind the "soft cheese" warning was that:

Raw milk and any cheeses or other dairy products made from it can carry disease-causing organisms, including a potentially deadly bacterium called listeria monocytogenes.

So in light of well-marked, widely pasteurized foods, otherwise edible cottage cheese should be fine for most pregnant women.

Dietary changes during pregnancy, a.k.a death by meat

This summer my wife ate her first hamburger in 21 years. In that span of time she had not eaten any red meat and for many years no chicken either. All that changed once she became pregnant.

Since our offspring has begun developing, my wife has single-handedly sent cattle futures skyrocketing. In the past seven days I've had steak for dinner three times. I cut myself shaving this morning and au jus trickled down my neck. My cholesterol hit triple digits, I sweat Worcestershire sauce and I was woken this morning by the feeling of my dog nibbling on my legs.

Her cravings for red meat have been incredible, but it's par for the course of a pregnant woman's diet. I've mentioned in passing that I think couvade syndrome is tied to household-wide changes in diet, if I have a heart attack before my next post, we'll know for sure.

Crazy pregnancy dreams

I mentioned earlier that my wife has been having vivid and intense dreams and I put a question out on Yahoo! Answers to see what kind of dreams other pregnant women were having. The following are some of the responses:

"I dreamed the baby was a Jalapeno and nobody wanted to carry him."

"I had nightmares with people killing my family."

"I'd have dreams about me having twins. Once I dreamed the twins were like fighting in my belly I could see their arms and legs sticking out then they dropped to the floor, not through the birth canal but through my belly like they were ghosts or something."

"I had one about some bears attacking people all over my town and it seemed so real!"

"I dreamt I died on the delivery table with my second child."

"The most recent was that our city was being bombed but they were only bombing our garbage cans and my husband was about to take out the garbage but me and my very pregnant belly ran and saved him."

"I had dreams that I gave birth to an alien, my fiance and that the baby flew out of my vagina and across the room!!!!"

Pregnancy dreams, zombies and expectant fathers

I've previously mentioned ways that my pregnant wife is slowly trying to drive me insane. She may have worked in extradition based on her tactics; she yells at me to break me down emotionally, she tries to make me fat and weak with snack foods and she clings to me to make me feel paranoid.

Lately she's been dabbling with sleep deprivation. At first she was just kicking me in the middle of the night and scaring the crap out of me. Now she's trying a different route, waking me in the latest hours of the night to recap a dream that reads like a vampire / zombie / alien thriller.

"Whew!" she exclaimed a millisecond before she clung to my body, still waking from her nightmare. "Can you cuddle me?" She was already stuck to me like a barnacle, so yes honey, we can cuddle.

"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I just had the weirdest dream..." After a five minute synopsis, I knew I was not going to get back to sleep quickly. "... and there were toddlers in all the cars in the parking lot and there were no adults around, and we couldn't tell if they had been infected and were zombies or not. "
I was now awake and scared that the alien vampire zombies might in fact be down stairs. She's sure as hell not going to fend them off, so of course now I have to sleep lightly for the rest of the night.

This scene has replayed itself a couple times since then, but with no dreams as cool as that first night. Vivid dreams are a common occurrence during pregnancy and are attributed to hormonal changes and the emotional journey of becoming a parent.

All expectant fathers need to know is that you will lose sleep over it. Listen to your pregnant partner, comfort her, and may I suggest a slug of red wine before bed to help you sleep more soundly.

Bipolar sexual habits of pregnant women

I made an open call for questions a short while back and a reader asked about changes in sexuality during pregnancy. There seem to be few topics more taboo than pregnant sex and I sure as hell wouldn't have written about it if someone hadn't asked me. My wife and mom both read this blog so I'm not offering up anything personal, ix-nay on the egnant-pray ex-say.

Still, I wanted to answer this reader's question so I posted on Yahoo! Answers to get a public opinion sample from pregnant women out in the world. The question from the reader and in-turn posed to women was, how has pregnancy affected your sexuality.

I received quite a few responses and the results were interesting. They were characterized by a very bipolar split in that pregnant women either claimed a large increase in libido or a complete vacuum of sexual interest. Much of this seemed to be specific to a woman's trimester with the most activity in the second trimester and less interest in the first and third.

The following are some particularly telling quotes from the women who responded.

1. I'd rather lay on the bathroom floor than have sex.

2. With my 3rd pregnancy, I was (excuse the expression) hornier than a 16 year old boy!

3. The first [pregnancy] my sex drive went up, but the second time my sex drive has gone down.

4.I've always been reserved, maybe even shy, about that sort of stuff, but after getting pregnant I became much bolder

5. I felt yuck all the time and that was the last thing on my mind.

6. Now that I am preggo I try to knock his boots off every time he looks my way LMAO. My my how the roles have changed, Now he's the one running from me. He's scared he will hurt the baby. PLEASE! The only one in danger is him lol.

7. My sex drive went down the hill...

8. Since we got pregnant (we tried for over a year) sex has been a lot more frequent, spontaneous, and interesting. I guess it's because when we were trying to conceive it was like, "Okay, we have to have sex starting on day 10 of my cycle and skip every other day...blahblahblah." This way we do what we want when we want to, and it's awesome!

9. My libido went up 10-fold. I was very sexually charged, all the time...

10. I don't want to even be looked at in the first trimester, however the second is always a very different story and I find myself more interested than ever. In the third trimester I tolerate intimacy for the sake of my partner.

Quick nutrition for pregnant women

One of the best ways to care for a pregnant woman is to make sure she's always properly fed, and fed quickly. Although a lofty goal, preparing ready-to-eat snacks in advance and keeping certain ingredients on hand is key to making her fed and happy. Keep in mind that she will get hungry at inconvenient times, so some of the items on the list are travel friendly. Stock up on these items so when hunger strikes her, she won't strike you.

Preparing snacks in advance makes sure that she's getting the nutrition she and the baby need from good foods, not just anything within arm's reach. Fresh fruits and vegetables fit this profile wonderfully and are easy to prepare in addition to being vitamin rich. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are usually sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals, so buying organic and pesticide free is highly recommended. Organics can be expensive, but those fruits and veggies with thick skins may be okay. has a list of the top produce to buy organic.

Some great snacks include:

Sliced apples with a spread of peanut butter
Apples are loaded with nutrients, and the peanut butter is a great source of protein and healthy fats and oils. Try and get organic apples.

Orange juice or cranberry juice
Lots of vitamin c and sugars to help low blood sugar levels.

Trail mix (organic)

Quick, easy, portable and tasty. Some good carbs, oils and proteins.
*travel friendly, spoil resistant - Buy a large bag at a super center to save money and portion it out in Ziploc bags so she can throw some in a purse.

Keep some yogurt handy, either in a larger container or individual cups. Add some granola or mix in your own fruit to make it a more substantial treat.

Eggs are very simple to prepare on the spot. It doesn't get much easier than scrambled eggs. If you have a little more time, make an egg white omelet with some diced veggies and cheese. For a quicker grab, prepare some hard boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge for when the urge strikes.

Bread (for toast)
Depending on which trimester she is in, dry toast may be one of the only things she can stomach. I suggest a multi-grain bread if she isn't battling an upset tummy. In that case something a little less fibrous like an oatmeal bread is healthier than just plain white bread.

Crackers and...
Cheese is the obvious answer, but there are lots of other things you can add. If you do go the cheese route, pregnant women should stay away from soft cheese. Hummus, jelly, slice of fruit or salsa are all great cracker combos. Stick to a more grainy cracker, as some tend to be high in saturated fats.
* Travel friendly, spoil resistant - Buy her a box for her car or for work.

Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese, possibly with some fruit mixed in, is a great way to get some protein.

Granola Bars
I personally love the Kashi brand of bars, but most of these bars provide an ultra-portable energy boost.
* Travel friendly, spoil resistant - buy a few extra for the car, purse or on the job.

Peanut Butter and....
Just about anything. With jelly on bread, spread on some fruit, dipped with celery, a bunch on some crackers.
* Spoil resistant - great to put in a desk with a box of crackers at the office.

Nutrition for pregnant women can be an easily manageable as long as you plan in advance. A well-fed pregnant woman is a happy pregnant woman, so always make sure she's got a steady supply of food at the drop of a hat.

An expectant father's place is last

I've made many subtle adjustments in my life, in recognition of the fact that I am no longer my own number one priority. There are many concessions that an expectant father must make; sleep, sanity, pride, safety to name but a few.

An expectant father must realize that his job is to care for a pregnant woman before he ever considers himself. Once a child is born, you will take one step down in pecking order. As it is right now I'm already number three in our house behind my wife and our dog. That's right, even the dog comes before me. I don't have a problem taking a back seat to someone I care about, but I literally take a back seat to my wife and our dog.

My wife's car is the 'dog car' so she usually drives when the three of us travel together. Our Siberian Husky loves to ride shot gun, regardless of whether or not someone is already sitting there. Suki (the dog) loves riding in the passenger seat and it keeps her calm so I don't mind letting her do so. However, I don't particularly enjoy having the claws of a 70 pound dog shred my legs, so I gladly take the alternative and sit in the back seat by myself. Dignity damaged, I at least keep my clothing free of fur and my testicles from being clawed when the dog repositions herself at every turn

Unfortunately, Suki loves to hang her head out the window as we drive. In the process, droplets of spit often fly out the front window and into the back, striking me in the face. Strangers frequently laugh at the mere sight of my dog riding up front and me in the back. Stopped at red lights people will often smile at the cute dog, then promptly point and giggle at me. A couple once spotted me in the back seat while stopped in traffic and exploded in laughter. The man yelled over, "Shows you where you rank, doesn't it!" Yes sir, yes it does.

Letting the dog ride in front makes her feel better so I'm more than happy to allow her to do so. It's a strange but small sacrifice for her happiness. Once our child is born I'm almost positive I will be making many more small yet embarrassing concessions. If we have more than one kid I will most likely be tied to the bumper and forced to keep up on foot. People will no longer address me when my family enters a room, but quickly crowd my wife and child to absorb all their cuteness and wonder. I'll just stand in the corner, maybe with the dog. It's okay, some days I pray for peace and quiet, so it might not be so bad.

Truth be told I don't at all mind taking a back seat to my pregnant wife, or my dog, as I love them both dearly. Being comfortable with this may in fact better prepare me to care for a pregnant woman and for impending fatherhood. I know that her needs come first right now, which is fine with me in spite of inconvenience at times.

I know that once our son has been born there won't be a thing that I wouldn't concede for him, no matter how uncomfortable I may feel or ridiculous I may appear.

Celebrity parents, and the blackhole that is MTV

I wrote a post on Inside Fatherhood about Paris Hilton's statement that she wants to be a mother. I made the statement that her wanting to be a parent was scary, the name of the post was actually "Paris Hilton wants to be a mother, and other signs of the apocalypse".

In retrospect, and after having the misfortune of seeing part of the MTV Video Music Awards, I think I may have been a little difficult on Ms. Hilton. I realized that she would not be the worst celebrity parent. So what made me change my tune about this potential parent to be? Well, the mere sight of current celebrity parent.

That celebrity who changed my mind, the train wreck known as Britney Spears.

As she stumbled around on stage with her gut sticking out over her stripper underwear, I realized that her kids are screwed. Genuinely screwed. They're not starting from a good place when Kevin Federline is the most responsible parent they have.

Pregnant women are irritable, a quote

I would like to share a brief quote I recently overheard from my glowingly beautiful pregnant wife:

"Shut the f*@k up!"
- my wife, to our refrigerator

That's right, to our refrigerator. In my wife's defense, she rarely ever swears (that's my job), and our refrigerator beeps when the door is left open for more than a few seconds. This was apparently an unwelcome a reminder.

I made several realizations within moments of those eloquent words gracing my ears:

1. It was not directed at me, so I was happy.

2. A pregnant woman swearing at an inanimate object is funny. I laughed, on the inside.

3. For all the feminine beauty that pregnant women embody, a lady with a round tummy yelling at a metal shell is somehow equally as feminine. Again, an internal observation.

4. She always leaves the refrigerator door open and I was glad to hear that the reminder chime prompted her to action. However, had that chime been a verbal reminder from a man, his testicles would have been sheared clean from his body in one surgically precise swipe. Let this serve as a warning.

5. The relationship of a pregnant woman and a refrigerator is very similar to that of a female bear and her cubs; they are two things you do not may not understand and do not want to come between. Just stay away and you'll be fine.

Dad's Prenatal checklist: life insurance

Administrative tasks aren't fun at any point in your life, but many of them assume a new significance as an expectant parent. One major item on the list of "stinks to think about, pain to deal with" items is life insurance.

Those of you who already have life insurance should revisit your policy before the birth of your child. Talk to your representative to see if an adjustment to your policy might be in order. Keep in mind that if something were to happen to you or your partner, the survivor would be burdened with caring for a child and earning a living, all while grieving. This situation could sadly be worsened by a less than ideal financial situation. Life insurance can help make thing a little less troublesome in a difficult time when the care of a child is involved.

For those of you without life insurance, I would strongly suggest that you consider a small term life insurance policy. Contact a life insurance broker for solid quotes, but relatively healthy people should be able to get policies for less than $30 a month. Make sure that both parents have a policy, as the loss of either could cause a major hardship for the survivor and affect the well being of the child.