Finding out that you’re going to have a baby and be a father for the first time is an exhilarating feeling. I remember my wife surprised me with the news early one morning, as I was getting ready for work. What started out a boring and mundane start to a day, quickly morphed into one of shock and relief. I say relief because we had no idea how long it would take for my wife to get pregnant, which in our case was almost instant. For myself, I was always optimistic, while my wife was less so. And frankly I don’t blame here. We heard of countless stories of friends who had difficulty getting pregnant. So when my wife waived the pregnancy test with the smiling face on it, relief definitely set it for both of us. I remember going to work that day, and it was all I could do from telling everyone “I’m going to be a father;” however, I opted to cautiously wait until the first trimester was over before sharing the good news.
Pretty soon the reality of the pregnancy started to set in. My wife battled morning sickness not to mention unpredictable mood swings, which was totally normal from what the baby books said would happen. As a “father in waiting” as I call it, you’re stuck in a peculiar situation. Here your wife is undergoing this rapid and extremely taxing transformation, while your life continues almost unchanged from a physical standpoint. Emotionally, there are a lot of changes occurring, and you quickly start to ask yourself the question, “What should I be doing?”
There is no doubt that I’m in constant awe of my wife. Entering here fifteenth week of the pregnancy, she has survived the morning sickness, but still deals with aches and pains from time to time. She has a small baby bump, which she wears proudly. Meanwhile, she somehow manages to work full-time at a demanding job, keeps up an active social life, manages several hobbies, and deals with the ongoing chores that life brings.
My wife is busy creating this life from nothing while balancing a full plate, and here I am watching it unfold. It’s true that I had a key role in creating that life, but from that starting point on, I seem somewhat removed from the experience. My wife is not one to leave things to chance. Shortly after finding out about the pregnancy, she went out and purchased several baby books. One of them had a short chapter dedicated to the role of an expecting father, which my wife encouraged me to read. The book suggested that an expecting father should be there to:
a) support his wife,
b) understand the changes that are occurring to her, and
c) and be as involved as much as possible.
Pretty simple, right? I had to laugh at how short this section represented of the total book. Nonetheless, I quickly took this first piece of this advice to heart by making sure that I was present for as many medical appointments as possible. I’ve had the chance to attend two ultrasound appointments to date. The first allowed us to witness the heartbeat of what could only be described as a blob. Despite its shapeless appearance, it still was amazing to watch that small flicker on the grainy monitor screen. The second ultrasound provided a much more human view of our tiny baby. As a first time dad, it proved to be an extremely special moment to see that small human for the first time, and one I could never imagine missing.
The second piece of advice was also quickly incorporated. My wife recommended that I download the Glow Nurture baby app. As someone who works close to ten hours a day with a 3.5 hour daily commute, I don’t have a lot of spare time. I was so relieved after downloading the app for the first time, because it gave a play-by-play of what was happening to both mother and baby. For example, last week (Week #14) the baby’s ears were formed, so now he or she can hear us speak. It’s technology like this that allows me to be more in tuned with the pregnancy and what my wife is experiencing firsthand.
Be as involved as possible is again a challenge for someone who has so little spare time. Weekends are my saving grace where I spend more time with my wife and make up for the shortcomings of the week. To date, we have gone maternity clothes shopping together at Motherhood Maternity and purchased a pair of jeans and pants to accommodate my wife’s growing tummy. This weekend, we will be attending a Bump, Baby & Toddler Expo with friends who are also expecting their first child. Not to mention the many nightly massages that seem to be required to relieve my wife’s back tension. Although I think she may be milking the pregnancy just a little, in order to receive these amateur massages.
The reality is the “father in waiting” is no longer summed up as the clichéd smoking father in the hospital waiting room that we all grew accustomed to seeing in movies and television shows while growing up. Fathers can play an active role by being there in real-time for their wives from the moment they hear the exciting news to the day of delivery and beyond. I have much to learn in the coming months, that’s for sure, but I know that we’re off to a great start.
This is the first of an ongoing blog series that will document what it means to be a first-time father in 2016. I’m eager to hear what you have to say on what a fathers role can be during a pregnancy. Is their any piece of advice that you found useful?
Thanks for stopping by!