Tonight my wife and I went shopping for some baby gear to see first-hand what we had been comparing ad nauseum online. I happened upon a stroller which I think was well designed and had the parents in mind, not just the child.
Now there were many cool features of this stroller; it was sturdy and well-built, the wheels were big enough to get the kid off road and in this particular unit, my child would be secured with a system of straps and buckles that look like a crash harness for Nascar driver.
However, the feature which clinched my buying decision (actually my 'add to registry' decision) was a handy location to store a beverage of choice. That's thinking.
Tonight my wife and I went shopping for some baby gear to see first-hand what we had been comparing ad nauseum online. I happened upon a stroller which I think was well designed and had the parents in mind, not just the child.
Labels: baby products
Here are a few quotes from pregnant women who have responded to surveys I have posted on various sites. I find these tidbits to be a comically informative look from the mother's point of view. As such, they're some good guidelines for expectant fathers.
"I think men should just think in their minds that women are in a temporary hormonal state and in that state it may appear that they have lost their minds, haha!
"Pregnancy is not all about moms. It is about love and sharing your life.
"We need to feel that our husbands still find us beautiful and alluring with swollen ankles and the appetite of a horse.
" My husband would touch me and I would vomit.
"...nothing about size should be uttered to a pregnant woman!
"I feel nauseous all freaking day!
"... it feels and LOOKS like my belly is an overgrown Mexican Jumping bean with Muhamid Ali inside.
".. it was so nice knowing he is as excited as I am.
"I get annoyed really easily and it helps to have him be quick to forgive me if I'm being unreasonable.
"Be good to your wife. She may be acting strong, but she really is fragile these days. Try to think about what you say before you say it.
My wife yelled at me when I got home today because her bra strap was bothering her.
Clearly this was something for which I was responsible in crazy pregnant logic. I began wondering if crazy pregnant logic could be mapped to real life logic, and answer the ageless question of why pregnant women yell at fathers. So I asked that very question of some pregnant women, granted they were not within kicking or accurate throwing distance of my face or testicles.
If you're waiting for some clear cut way to avoid being yelled at by a pregnant woman, I'm sorry, it doesn't exist. You will most likely get yelled at for no reason. Just try and not explode and as one woman put it,
"Guys need to be instructed (early and often) to just reply 'Yes dear' and to say 'I love you' and 'You are so beautiful!' throughout the pregnancy."
In a recent question I posed on Yahoo! Answers, one woman said that"I just look at my boyfriend and want to smack him for no reason at all. And my man is the sweetest most gentle and loving guy in the world." You heard it guys, don't be sweet, gentle and loving.
Maybe try being a jerk? Well, another woman says she yells at her husband because "he'll do really selfish things like asking ME to get HIM something to eat while I'm laying down." Okay, no luck there.
How about trying to sneak beneath the radar and not get too extreme either way? Sounds good except for the multiple women who said that what made them yell was "him breathing." I kid you not.
It's basically inevitable that she will yell at you. Some reported remorse afterwards, but others sounded on the brink of murder.
A few excerpts of what women answered when asked why they yell at the fathers of their children during pregnancy:
1. "It's mostly hormonal for me. It's like all the little things that irritate me but I don't bother with get amplified when I'm pregnant and I can't ignore it.
2. "Him breathing...no seriously
3. "Its hormones I'm afraid you are gonna have to put up with it.
4. "When I was pregnant, I was irritated by my husband because of:
Everything he says
The way he acts
The way he breathes
They way he walks across a room
5. "He plays with his friends way too much for a married man and father!
6. "In my pregnancy I don't like my husband touching me, kissing me or having sex. I get irritable alot easier when he doesn't do things I ask...
7. "In my case it wasn't hormonal.......He was just an A**hole.
Too all you expectant fathers, good luck and stay safe.
So far I've gotten some great information from other dads about their experiences with pregnant women in our expectant father survey. I'd like to share a few highlights from current and expectant fathers which I found interesting. They may shed some light on pregnancy from a dad's point of view.
- 50% of respondents were completely surprised by atypical or 'crazy' behavior from their partners.
- 50% of all respondents rated financial concerns as the most significant source of stress during pregnancy.
- 83% of expectant fathers talk to their pregnant partner's belly, half on a daily basis and 1/3 "every now and then"
- Yelling and frequent mood swings were the most commonly reported abnormal behavior reported in their partners.
- Two thirds of respondents felt that information for expectant fathers was "spotty, but out there."
Please keep the responses coming, and I'll publish the full set of results when finished.
A great way to entertain a pregnant woman is to take her on a movie date. It gets you out of the house and calling it a 'date' will make your partner feel appreciated. It serves not only as a fun outing, but the air conditioning is a great way for her to beat the heat during the summer months.
This is particularly important because pregnant women have a hard time regulating their body temperature and can easily overheat. Climate controlled theaters provide entertainment and help her and the little sprout maintain reasonable temperatures. Give her a pregnancy foot massage before the show and you'll be a saint in her eyes.
However, like any activity with a pregnancy, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Find a theater with comfortable seats.
2. Get a seat accessible to the bathroom.
3. She'll need snacks, so bring an extra $500.
4. Don't bring her to any tear-jerkers. Remember, she's hormonal and a normally weep-worthy film may turn her in to a blubbering mess. Avoid movies with births, weddings and puppies. My wife almost cried at the end of Live Free or Die Hard today, anything more would have pushed her over the edge. Bring some tissues just in case.
A caveat to our outing, the baby started to kick as Bruce Willis began dispensing his own brand knuckle-fed justice, which I found incredibly cool. I had earlier nicknamed him the kung-fu fetus based on movement at an ultrasound, this just cemented it.
I might as well be dining with my grandmother because my pregnant wife now likes to eat dinner at 4:30; It's like an early bird special at my own house. I don't even have the laptop bag off my shoulder yet when I get home from work and she's asking me if I'm ready to sit down and eat.
"Where ya' been? I'm starving," she asks as if I'd gone missing for days.
"I always get home at this time," I answer in defense.
"Yeah, but I'm hungry. Come on lets eat." I have no response, logic would do me no good.
So, if you're used to eating meals together with your pregnant partner, you may have to bend that habit a little bit for her sake, and the baby's. As I'm sure any of you expectant fathers know, pregnant women have significantly increased appetites, no surprise there. However, the key to satiating her hunger is small portions on a frequent basis.
A regular, three squares a day schedule won't suit her very well. Rather , little mini-meals eaten several times a day are the key to managing her hunger and nutritional needs. One primary function of eating frequently is that it helps regulate her blood sugar levels by keeping them from ever dropping too low or spiking after large meals. Low blood sugar levels often cause people to be cranky, so stack that on top of crazy hormones and you have a dangerous individual on your hands. Get the woman some food.
The moral of the story is that you should encourage your wife to eat manageable amounts of food frequently. The only schedule that truly matters is the baby's. When he or she wants to eat, he or she needs to eat. (Like mac and cheese at 10:45.)This may mean that you eat by yourself, but it also means she'll be healthier and happier.
Labels: food and nutrition
Everybody wants answers, but sometimes you need to ask a few questions first.
One of the most frequent ways men find this blog is through the search term "dealing with pregnant women" on Google. I find it interesting that the term "dealing" is used, as it clearly suggests that there's some issues with pregnant women which are causing problems for expectant fathers; that there is something to be "dealt" with in the first place.
However, beyond search referrals from that term, and even from my personal reading and research, the things about pregnant women that really bother expectant fathers are not clearly stated out there in the world. It may not only be difficult to find other fathers with similar experiences, but it may be that there isn't much out there for them to find.
Part of the pregnancy experience for men is that they in fact do not feel allowed to express themselves in fear of upsetting the mother. Furthermore, saying something about the difficulties of pregnancy may subject a man to critical judgment from others. Men are made to think that doing so would be selfish. After all, it's all about her isn't it? Or is it difficult, but very different, for both of you?
The problem is, without anyone to talk to or to share in this time, a man can easily feel marginalized. I am very lucky in that my wife and I communicate well with eachother. I can tell her that she's being a nut job (in different terms) and she won't hit me or yell at me. Likewise she tells me when I'm being a pain or not being adequately supportive. It doesn't mean that I don't fear for my testicles on a regular basis, but a lot of other couples are not so lucky and it can be an incredibly trying experience.
So here I am, I'm your sounding board. Post comments, email me, let me know what's bothering you about pregnant women and I'll try and get you an answer. I have a 10 question survey if you feel so inclined, but let me hear it. You need someone to commiserate with, not just share in the high times.
Survey link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=KPhqJr5Kz0QShATNbRKXbQ_3d_3d
1. She probably has to pee, right this moment.
2. Her mood may change at any moment.
... and then change back. Then back once more.
3. Morning sickness does not just occur in the morning.
Some women experience morning sickness all day, or feel worse into the evening. Be sympathetic.
4. She looks at you differently now.
This can work both ways, if you actively engage in preparing for the baby, she may love you more deeply. If you don't, she may be weary of your suitability as a father.
5. It takes a fraction of the time for her to get upset that it previously did.
Probably about a quarter of the time it used to.
6. You will hear the female anatomy discussed with unparalleled candor.
It will make you uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. You won't look at women the same way.
7. She will get freaked out.
Probably by some article she read, it is your job to find another article that says the first article is wrong.
8. If you don't sympathize with her, you will drop in her estimation.
Demonstrate some empathy for her aches, pains, nausea and fears or your relationship will be strained.
9. Don't expect her to maintain her pre-pregnancy activity levels.
She tires easily and won't be able to keep up with her normal activities, from her job to anything she might do around the house. You will have more to do.
10. She has to pee again.
So I got tagged with a meme from the 4 time dad (another fatherhood blogger who was kind enough to link me) on the topic of 8 interesting things about me.
Rules for this 8 interesting things post (as handed down by 4 time dad):I have no idea what other bloggers to tag, but anyway, without further ado, 8 interesting things about me:
· Each player must post these rules to begin the meme.
· Each player starts with eight random facts or habits about themselves.
· People who get tagged must blog about their eight things and post these rules.
· At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
· Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
1. My wife and I are having a boy.
2. I ate half a pepperoni pizza before bed last night so my pregnant wife wouldn't have to eat by herself.
3. I have an adversarial relationship with a gopher, much like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack.
4. I can't wait for the Bourne Ultimatum to be released.
5. You will not sleep as well as you normally do when eating half a pepperoni pizza before bed.
6. I rearranged the letters in "iPhone" and spelled "hip one". Although, I am not hip, as I do not own one.
7. I had to look up the word meme on Wikipedia.
8. I can tear a phone book in half. It's fun, but I run out of phone books to practice on because people don't use phone books as much as they used to.
The following are a selection of quotes excerpted from a recent poll which asked pregnant mothers what they most wished fathers understood about pregnancy.
One thing I observed from the full set of responses is that there is often a breakdown in communication. Men don't always fully grasp how physically uncomfortable and emotionally exhausted women are during pregnancy, so a woman's words may fall on partially deaf ears. Likewise, in a hormonal and emotionally charged state women are not able to fully express themselves to their partners.
These answers provide some insight into the things that make pregnant women tick... often like a time bomb, so pay attention to what they would like from their expectant partners. A lot of times it's just a little compassion, some understanding of how poorly they feel physically or maybe just a back rub. (They love massages!)
1. " When I was pregnant the first time I was sick, tired, and miserable and my husband said in an exasperated voice "I don't know WHAT is the matter with you!" Every expectant father should know NOT to say that.
2. "How much it can totally sap your energy sometimes. You could be vaccuming and finish 1 room and feel like you ran a marathon, or have to sit down and rest in the middle of grocery shopping.
3. "...how annoying it is that you have pee all the time. There were a few weeks during my first pregnancy where I felt like I had to pee literally every 5 minutes... My husband got annoyed because I didn't want to go to a party one evening (how fun would that be to camp out in the potty) and I wished he could have understood that it wasn't like it was a real choice for me.
4. "He doesn't understand when I say I'm not in the mood! I feel sick and out of it, and all I get in return is 'you got pregnant and now you dont need me'
5. "I've told him several times i cant eat certain things and he just totally doesnt understand what im saying... he keeps wanting to go out and eat sea food im like i cant do that! haha its annoying.
6. "I wish my husband know how horrendous I feel all day everyday. how lethargic & exhausted I am, and how anxious & stressed out, how badly I just want to relax & not be constantly asked for something (like dinner, or cookies, or sex, or whatever--he asks for these things at least once a day).
7. "I also wish he knew how close to the edge I am--I feel like I'm barely holding it together & feel like I'm going to snap at any moment. I wish he'd volunteer to help out more, I'm totally frazzled & forgetful & feel scared & worried and insecure & stressed.
8. "I wish that the fathers knew how much pain and agony that us mothers go through. Not only with labor and delivery, but the whole entire pregnancy. I wish that fathers were more compassionate and understanding during that time too.
9. "Fathers should give lots of backrubs without us having to beg.
It was mint chocolate chip ice cream at last night. By we were halfway through the macaroni & cheese. Pregnancy nutrition is a strange and wonderful thing.
“Do you want some mac and cheese?” Alison looked at me sheepishly as if it was an off handed idea not prompted by ravenous hunger or impulse cravings.
By her expression I knew she felt funny about eating so late at night, self conscious about weight gain feeling hormonal. So, I played the role of eating buddy again. I love macaroni and cheese anyway, plus I didn’t want my choice not to eat prevent her and the sprout from getting the food they needed, so why not.
It was incredibly tasty and I’m glad I did it. Not only was it a great treat, hopefully it will help preserve the gap between my body weight and my wife’s.
Incidentally, if you love the yummy, inexpensive and non-perishable glory that is macaroni and cheese as much as I do, there is an alternate way to prepare this delicious dish that reduces the amount of fat, sodium and calories per serving.
On the side of the Kraft mac and cheese boxes there are instructions which include using unsalted butter in a smaller quantity, among other small tweaks. This cuts the fat of the dish by 65% and the calories by 25%.
In a most of the Yahoo! Answers questions I have posed to pregnant women, the most common statement from expectant mothers is that foot massage was the most physically soothing thing anyone could do for them. Extra pregnancy weight causes particular fatigue and pain in the feet and joints that really begins to manifest in the second trimester and take both a physical and emotional toll on them. Not only will pregnancy massage help them feel better, it is also apparently the key to vaulting your status to sainthood in the eyes of expectant moms.
I've provided some basic instructions for a great spa foot massage that my wife loves, as well as the gear you will need. You can adapt as you see fit or depending on the materials you have.
* Butt covering
Certain acupressure points in the feet are thought to trigger early contractions. These points would most likely require prolonged, intentional stimulation on precise points, which is not the type of massage described here. But, I am not an acupressure specialist, I'm not a doctor, I'm not educated in massage, so basically proceed at your own risk.
- A small tub to soak her feet in
- Baby oil or Epsom Salt or gentle skin cleansing soap ($5)- Skin exfoliant ($16)- Skin moisturizer or lotion
- Optional: pumice stone foot scrubber ($2.99)
Dissolve some Epsom salts in a tub of warm water. Other options are some baby oil to soften the skin or a gentle soap. Soak her feet for a few minutes before you begin.
Working on one foot at a time, rub some exfoliant over the entire surface of the foot and up the calves. Massage the calf muscle up and down with your fingertips as you go.
Rinse the exfoliant from her lower leg and feet with the water in the tub.
(Optional.) Use a pumice stone foot scrubber on her heel and the ball of her foot to remove rough, dead skin. If it has a brush on one side, use it to gently brush the tops of her toes and nails.
Remove her foot and gently blot her feet and legs, leaving slightly damp.
Put a liberal amount of lotion on your hands and begin working it into her foot and up her calf.
Grasping her foot with both hands, gently rub the bottom of her foot with alternating thumb strokes from the heel towards the toe. You can also use your knuckles or the palm of the hand to massage the arch.
Grasp the heel with one hand and use the other hand to gently apply pressure on the big toe and ball of the foot to stretch the arch. Release and repeat.
Grasp her foot with your thumbs on top and pull out toward the sides from the center with the rest of your fingers.
Gently pull on each toe and 'pinch' the meat of the toe and nail with your thumb and forefinger.
Continue massaging the muscles of the foot and her calves using your thumbs and forefingers.
Repeat on the other foot and leg.
If you're looking for an inexpensive, relatively thoughtful gift for a pregnant woman, a pregnancy-related magazine subscription is a no-brainer.
A gift like this has multiple benefits:
1. Any gift is thoughtful, this one happens to be useful as well.
2. They are a great informational resource.
3. It is automated gifting; one subscription gets you 6-12 separate little gifts.
4. They are inexpensive, between $12 and $15. One magazine in the store would run about 5 bucks.
5. Each time one arrives, she'll remember how thoughtful you were. She'll probably burst in to tears then.
A couple of magazines my wife reads are Fit Pregnancy ($15) and Pregnancy ($12). Granted, they may be an enticement to her to spend more money, but as long as she finds them a worthwhile read then they've served their purpose.
It's can be very difficult to contain your excitement when you find out that you're going to have a baby. There are certain instances during pregnancy when you must exercise restraint and control the flow of information as if it were a matter of national security. The announcement is one of them.
I personally wanted to run out and tell everyone as soon as the pee test was dry, but announcing a pregnancy can be considerably more complicated than most men would ever expect. There are numerous considerations ranging from who to tell, in what order to tell them and how to do it. It is laughably easy to offend someone by not telling them soon enough or letting the news get back to them second hand.
I will get more in depth in future posts about making the big announcement, but my key piece of advice is to wait three months before announcing a pregnancy. I know this sounds like a long time to wait, but speaking from the perspective of someone who has had to go back and “untell” a bunch of people after a miscarriage, it's better off. The rate of miscarriage drops significantly after three months, so it's a good rule of thumb to follow for breaking the news.
It may become a moot point if her morning sickness or general symptoms raise suspicion in people, but still try to keep things under wraps as much as possible.
I came across Fetal Doppler machines on the web and I'm tossing around the idea of renting or buying one. There is no real need for a fetal Doppler, but they give you the ability to hear your child's heartbeat whenever you choose which I find rather cool. They're expensive to buy, but might be worth it if we have more than one kid and my wife wouldn't kill me for shelling out a few c-notes on one of these.
Stork Radio rents units of varying complexity from $20 to $50 per month and cost from $279 to $599 for purchase. You won't be able to hear the baby's heart until the 2-3 month range, so plan on a 6-7 month rental putting you between $120 and $350 to rent depending on the model and length of time.
It's one of those nice-to-haves that my wife would initially yell at me for buying an expensive geek toy, but would later love.
It can be especially difficult to buy clothing for pregnant women. You take your life in your hands when guessing sizes for non-pregnant women, and they often don't care for the styles that their partner chooses. Adding hormones and weight gain sensitivity into the mix turns purchasing maternity clothes into a game of Russian Roulette.
She may take an improperly sized garment as an insinuation that you are calling her fat. She may be annoyed by a pattern or scratchy fabrics which make her irritable. Maternity clothes are already a big bone of contention for women, which makes it difficult for men to make an informed decision. A very simple way to circumvent this by giving her a gift card or gift certificate instead of selecting and actual item.
Maternity clothes are often not fashionable, uncomfortable or poorly made. Letting her make her own selection transfers the onus for bad clothing from a poor decision on your part to the fault of the manufacturer for not making something she likes.
Gift cards show consideration while treading lightly around these other issues, but if you absolutely must buy something, a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Comfort comes first.
2. Stick to the maternity equivalent of her normal size. Here's a sizing chart from iMaternity.com
3. Natural fabrics feel better against the skin.
4. Patterns hide size best, however can easily go from fashionable to tacky. (Don't think this means Hawaiian shirts or lumberjack plaid.)
Accessories like scarves, hats, jewelry, bags, etc. should match her pre-maternity styles. You might want to stay away from shoes and pregnant women's feet often grow.
I would like to relay a little anecdote which I will later tie into some basic guidelines for expectant fathers.
I previously mentioned Couvade, which is the phenomenon of paternal weight gain during pregnancy. Being aware of this, I have added some basic exercise to my routine and have dropped 12 pounds in the process. Meanwhile, my wife has gained another five pounds since her last appointment.
Some basic math made me realize that with her total gain of 18 pounds so far, and my loss of twelve, the gap between our respective body weights has closed by 40 pounds. I also realized that she would gain probably another 18 and I might lose another 10 or so, and quickly voiced my deduction, “wow, you might weigh more than me pretty soon, ha ha ha ha ha."
I gasped quietly. Inside thoughts, Bill. Inside thoughts. I knew I shouldn't have said that, but it was too late. The words had escaped my lips before I realized what I was saying, and apparently struck her ears with the force a kick from a steel toed boot. Her face dropped and she stared at me like she was about to shoot lasers through me.
I will kill you,” she said. “You better not lose any more weight.” I panicked.“I'm just teasing.” I frantically tried to come up with a reason why I was teasing and why it was completely plausible that she might pass me in weight. Pregnant women are shrewd, they can see through lies and will look for any reason to nail you to the wall.
“You're a tall woman, you're six feet tall and you're not gaining an excessive amount of weight at all. How many people have already told you how great you look? It's perfectly natural for you to put on even more weight, and I just happen to be exercising more. That's all. You look great and you're sexy as hell.”
“I know,” she said, “it just sounds like so much. You still better not weight less than me, though.”
So, injury narrowly averted and anecdote finished, what have we learned? If nothing, you'd be best off to wear a protective cup for the remainder of the pregnancy. I leaned several things:
Pregnant women are sensitive about their weight. Although it is completely natural for them to gain weight, that doesn't make them happy about it.
You should not at any point tease a pregnant woman about her weight. She may laugh initially, but she will almost certainly laugh as she stabs you in your sleep.
A clinical approach to a non-clinical comment can calm her long enough for you to flee the area.
Do not make it common knowledge, even to her, that she has passed you in weight should it happen.
Tell her how beautiful she is, over and over and over. It will help make up for any foot-in-mouth statements. Pregnancy nutrition is very important so you want to make sure she isn't hesitant about eating enough nutritious food.
With the addition of ice cream as the fifth basic food group of the pregnant household, it can be difficult for father to avoid any collateral weight gain. Especially during the second trimester when women tend to feel better and are able to shop for themselves (not as much morning sickness, but not yet immobile), do not be surprised as to what types or quantities of food may appear at your house. Nor should you be surprised by the times at which she chooses to eat. She will ask you to join her and before you know it, having waffles at 10:30 pm seems completely reasonable… like it did last night.
She’s going to become an eating buddy; like a geriatric version of that kid in college who always had a fifth of Jack Daniels ready at a moment’s notice, but with peanut butter cups instead.
This leads me to the topic of paternal weight gain and other pregnancy symptoms wrapped up under the blanket of the Couvade syndrome. This is basically a set of sympathetic changes in expectant fathers that mimic certain aspects of pregnancy, the most notable of which is weight gain. I have personally lost 13 pounds since the beginning of my wife’s pregnancy, but it’s not for lack of trying and the pusher-like tactics of my wife. Regardless, this change in diet is one of the reasons why exercise is so important for pregnant dads. The catch-22 is that although your caloric intake will increase, your free time will decrease leaving you less time for exercise.
A very easy way to get some exercise during the day is to go for at least a one mile walk during your lunch time. Use the stairs instead of elevators, walk in place of driving or riding when possible and drink plenty of water. The water helps your body metabolize fats and improves your digestive system, skin and overall health.
Other symptoms of Couvade include insomnia, indigestion, nausea, changes in appetite and aches and pains. 1
Some of this could easily be attributed to proximity to a pregnant woman who, for example, tosses in her sleep and wakes her partner at the same time. Changes in stress, diet, schedule and exercise levels could easily account for weight gain, indigestion and many of the other apparently pregnant-sympathetic experiences.
Regardless, it is important to make sure you’re eating healthy and taking care of yourself or you’ll never be able to manage caring for her.
1. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couvade_syndrome
One of the most important things you can do for a pregnant woman is let her know how beautiful she is. A few simple words may mean more to her than anything else you could do.
Words of encouragement are a crucial element of an expectant father’s emotional support. Her hormones are wreaking havoc with her emotions and weight gain, breakouts, stretch marks and morning sickness have her insecurities at a peak and her self consciousness at an all time low.
Take the opportunity to simply tell her that she is beautiful. It may not be the manufactured physical beauty in print or on TV, but a truly natural beauty. There is nothing more feminine than a pregnant woman, so tell her that.
Don’t lay it on too thick, she’ll see right through it. As it is, she’ll argue with you and provide a list of reasons why she thinks she’s not attractive, but be resolute. Just talk to her, compliment her, and know that a few words may mean the world to her.
Labels: pregnancy best practices
It's a fact of pregnancy, so get used to it; pregnant women are very irritable. In their defense, expectant mothers have rushes of havoc-wreaking hormones, reduced mobility, nausea, headaches, tire easily and feel all around crappy. It doesn't make it easy to live with and deal with, but it's just how things are.
That being said, any conversation with a pregnant woman is like a mine field; a seemingly harmless proposition laden with highly explosive potential just below the surface.
They criticize, complain and pick fights, only to quickly retreat behind a veil of tears. The only thing you really can do is grin, bear it and walk away or diffuse the situation. If not, then she'll end up sobbing and you'll feel bad. Try not to snap, try not to yell back.
Be particularly aware of this in the first and third trimesters, as these are the times during which pregnant women typically feel worst; in the first trimester due to morning sickness and in the third because of frustration, immobility and aches from weight gain. She may become cranky or irrational and do so at the drop of a hat.
Just keep in mind that you love her and she is bearing the next great president / professional athlete / scientist / doctor / little miracle.
One of the best ways for a father to demonstrate his enthusiasm and involvement in a pregnancy is to educate himself about the mechanics of the whole ordeal; stages of fetal development, changes in the mother's body, expert advice, who supplanted the woman with whom you wanted to have sex with this crazy woman from whom you now hide your unprotected testicles.
(One mother recently responded to a question I posted on Yahoo! Answers said that when her husband wiped sweat from her brow during delivery, it made her want "to punch him in the funbags.")
Taking the initiative to study about the changes that your wife and baby undergo shows that you are committed to her. There may be no logical reason whatsoever to suggest that you are not committed to her and the child, but the hormonal influences of pregnancy tend towards highly emotional outbursts rather than logical and collected expression (i.e., punching a husband in his “funbags”).
Reading women's pregnancy books is a great way to learn because you'll know exactly what she does and won't be behind the curve. Buying her a book is a highly suggested because it is not only a sweet gift, but is a source of great information for you. One particular title that has seems to be the bible of pregnancy amongst my wife's friends is What to Expect When You're Expecting($8.37 from Amazon).
Of course, there's plenty of information available on the web. Babycenter.com has a cool pregnancy calendar that shows information about your partner's particular stage of pregnancy based on due date, and will send you or her twice-weekly email updates.
The key thing to remember is that staying informed is a primary method of involvement during pregnancy. Not only does your reading demonstrate interest in her and the baby, the more information you have the better you will be able to calm her fears and understand the crazy mess known as the pregnant lady.
I’ve made a habit of talking to my wife’s pregnant belly every night before bed and every morning before I leave for work. And while my words are of no particular importance, they are far and away the two most important conversations of my day. And as much as I want to be familiar to him, my daily monologues help make him familiar to me.
It is rarely more than a verbal stream of consciousness. I ramble on about my day or bonding experiences I’m looking forward to with him; things like kung fu, fast cars and matters of general suaveness.
I talk about nothing particularly sweet or endearing (like I said, kung fu, fast cars, etc.), but my hope is that he will develop an in-utero affinity for my voice. Dr. Thomas R. Verny, author of The Secret Life of the Unborn Child: How You Can Prepare Your Baby for a Happy, Healthy Life ($10.88 from Amazon), has done studies which demonstrate that newborns can distinguish and are calmed by the voice of their father if he spoke to them during the pregnancy. That is something I want, I want to have a connection with my child.
And as much as I want to be familiar to him, my daily monologues help make him familiar to me.
At times I wish that I could have as intimate a bond with our little unborn nugget as my wife does. When she wakes up, goes to sleep, fixes a snack, picks up the phone, the baby is with her. They are inextricably linked to each other. Speaking to him is my attempt to form an early bond because I lack that physical immediacy with the child. I began speaking to him out of ignorance, with no knowledge of Verny’s studies or proof that he even had functioning ears. I may have begun too early, but it was just something I wanted to do.
Does it make a difference? I think so. Could I be wrong? Quite possibly, it happens often. We may only know for sure if he starts side-kicking people from a speeding Ferrari, but I’ll take that chance.
During your bid as an expectant father one of the most difficult things to do is to keep quiet and not say anything at all. "Why so difficult?" you may ask. Well, the reason is that as an expectant father you are constantly barraged with advice, criticism and fear-mongering from people who are clearly not the most well-suited parents.
The wost offenders are female and they will express their gender issues to the full extent while you're expected to just smile and nod. Anything that the father of her children, who is attempting to drink away the sound of her voice, has done wrong is transferred to you for the sake of conversation. The worst part of these "I'm a mother and you're not" rants is that their high-strung, neurotic children are within your peripheral vision as she continues to spout.
"Oh, you're not going to know what to do when..." someone will surely begin before my focus drifts to her child who begins to break anything within arms-reach for the sake of attention. Smile and nod, smile and nod.
While advice is often well intentioned, people have the worst way of imparting whatever knowledge they have to offer. I don't have a problem with advice, I rather welcome it. It's the delivery I can't stand. People need to be more gracious with their words, and I say this with the hopes that I will do the same when on the opposite side of this exchange.
Labels: advice from others
Sometime between the fourth and fifth months of pregnancy your wife/ girlfriend/ baby-momma may become incredibly, somewhat annoyingly clingy to you. She will track your every move with the deftness of a bloodhound. She will be the human equivalent of a house-arrest ankle bracelet.
"What are you doing?" will be her mantra, even if you just answered her a few minutes before.
The key here is to be patient and communicative with her. Explain your plans to her as if she were your parole officer, because that's how she'll act. For example, if you're going out to mow the lawn, tell her what you're doing, how long it will take (always pad your estimate with extras, i.e., weed whacking) and check in on her a couple times during the process.
I was unaware of this phenomenon until I realized I felt guilty for ever leaving a room she was in. I felt as though I had been neglecting her whenever I wasn't within eyesight. The truth is, I don't mind. She's experiencing physical and hormonal changes which I can't possibly understand and a little bit of togetherness isn't the worst thing in the world. Just make sure you do have some time to yourself in the interest of preservation of sanity, and leave the room if you feel the need to yell or put your head through a wall to make the questions stop.
If you're not able to shake the round one who's following you around, try taking her to a movie. It's a great way to be together without having to listen to her.
The pregnant woman's bladder is a logistical nightmare for men. For the duration of the pregnancy you should not plan to do anything with your wife outside of a two-minute travel radius from a bathroom. Don't start any activities which don't allow for breaks every fifteen minutes and do not expect her (or you, by proxy) to sleep through the night without the interruption of multiple bathroom trips. I wish I were exaggerating, but I am not.
Why does she pee so much, you might ask. Well, in technical terms, her bladder's capacity is roughly equivalent to the volume of a thimble and nearly as suited for holding fluids. That, and kidney activity increases to clean her body and remove waste products, which results in frequent urination.
Regardless of the reason, you simply need to know that your estimate of a reasonable amount of time to engage in any activity without requiring a rest room is probably four times longer than she will be able to handle.
I know that sounds ridiculous, and it is, but it's true.
When driving, try and pick a route with clean restrooms along the way and make sure she goes just before you leave the house. It is in your best interest to remind her before you ever walk out the door as her bathroom dilemma will become yours if she needs an emergency pee break. If she says she doesn't have to go, ask her if she's sure and suggest that she try before any departure; picture it as practice for after the baby is born.
Last Sunday my wife agreed to something I never thought I'd see; she ate a hamburger of her own free will. A real hamburger, made solely from beef. No bean patties, no soy derivative. Meat.
It was her first burger in 21 years, all because of the pregnant crazies.
My wife had been a vegetarian for the past couple of decades (with the recent exclusions of fish and chicken) so you can imagine my surprise when she gave the idea of a burger even a glancing consideration. Further more, she didn't just tolerate the burger, she loved it. She had a second one a couple hours later.
Now it's not like she's not eating steak at every meal, but it was significant in that the idea of eating red meat used to make her feel sick. Obviously certain cravings may be tied to different nutritional requirements, but it's a good example of the unexpected changes that pregnant women go through. I've said it before but remember, the pregnant woman is a fickle being, feed it well and it won't turn on you.
One of the minor, unexpected perks of being an expectant father is that you have a built-in, pre-determined designated driver.
I realized this earlier tonight when a friend and new father (congratulations, Joad and Sarah!) offered me a beer. Alison was unable to drink on account of being all sorts of pregnant, so yes, I would love a beer.
There are a few considerations for your indentured driver. First, if you drink too much you will look extra sloppy on account of her being completely sober. Second, her hormones may cause her to detest you for any drunkenness or social behavior which may cause misgivings about your suitability as a parent. Third, she will tire more easily and will want to leave a social environment before you do so you may not be able to drink for very long.
Otherwise, in moderation, enjoy!