A Preggy Post For The Baby Daddy's

Search the Internet for anything pregnancy related, and you will be bombarded with information ranging from best bottles for a newborn to glycerine suppositories, and everything in between. Apps, books, newsletters and daily emails keep the mom-to-be informed about the size of her baby (Oh look, today he’s a paw paw!) her stretchmarks and how to best prepare your nipples for feeding. With so much info out there, its no wonder that pregnancy is very much a female thing, something for the ladies. It’s a big vagina’y focused book-club.

I’ve been fortunate to have had a relatively easy pregnancy, but it’s still been a tough 5 and a bit months and sometimes I just want to not do anything and have a little cry instead, because sometimes I just don’t want to. I don’t want to work, exercise, cook, clean, wash the dogs, walk the dogs, buy dog food, try find my feet to rub cream in, take the car for a service, stack the dishwasher, squeeze into a now way-too-small bra or find clothes that fit.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a blog post for all the dad-to be’s (dad’s-to-be?) husbands and partners of the pregnant ladies. Hopefully this will help keep harmony in the home when your time comes.

Here are a few things that I (and a random sampling of woman I interviewed) wish our hubbies knew in those long 40 weeks of human gestation*

  • Don’t ever blame anything on pregnant hormones. It’s unkind and thoughtless and extremely hurtful. Yes, we are absolutely going through some hormonal changes (apparently it happens when one is growing an actual human inside of them) but to call that out in a fight or argument is not fair.
  • Be a protector. I’m not talking about coming to our rescue all damsel in distressy, but we need to know that you are financially prepared for what’s about to happen. I speak for me (and maybe others) when I say I spend a few hours a night worrying about money and how we are going to clothe, feed, doctor, school, educate, entertain and take the best possible care of our child. 4 months of maternity leave, means 4 months of no salary and 4 months of wondering how we are going to buy groceries, pay the bills. 4 months of wondering how secure our job is on our return, how a baby is going to affect our career and how colleagues are going to treat us when we arrive back at the office. It’s at this extremely vulnerable time when you need to step in and tell us that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK. Lie if you have to, rob a bank if you must, just let us breathe easy knowing that ‘you’ve got this’.
  • Step Up. Yes, in most households there are ‘wife’ duties and ‘husband’ duties. As an example, I don’t mow the lawn, but I’m in charge of groceries and cooking. That being said, it’s a rule that needs to be flexible, and we need you to pick up a little bit of the slack from time to time. Your woman would drop down on her knees (if she still had the ability to see her knees) in joy should you decided to come home with dinner or groceries one one night, without being asked.
  • Listen. When we ask you to do something we can only ask once. Yes, it’s a little bit of a test. If husband forgets to buy the toothpaste like I asked without having to remind him 4 times, how is he ever going to remember to fetch our child from school or buy nappies or formula?
  • Don’t beg us for praise. We appreciate everything you do, honestly (even if we don’t thank you every time for taking out the rubbish). We treat 10 months of pregnancy like a job interview – we watch to see that you can manage both your duties and some of ours (I’m about 1 week away from being able to wash the dogs on my own) so when you fail to do yours, we worry about how you are going to cope when there’s a tiny screaming needy infant on the way.
  • Nod and smile. I like things done my way, and I like them done yesterday. I’m a planner, I’m OCD and I’m who you married. You must be joking if you think that will change during pregnancy. Please tolerate our outbursts and panic attacks about pram wheels and wall paint and carpet colours. Nod and smile and ask what you can do.
  • Don’t take advantage of designated Dave. Just because you have someone to drive you around for 9 months, doesn’t mean you now need to become the worlds greatest boozer. Sometimes a bit of mutual matching sobriety would help our “ohmygodicantdrinkforalmostayear” sadness, just a little bit.
  • Get Involved. I don’t know why men get the raw end of the deal when it comes to babies. Perhaps it’s because they’re not carrying them that there’s this implied assumption that the dad isn’t as involved. My husband has come to every single scan and Doctors appointment since day dot. He knows more about what’s going to happen than I do, and he’s been involved every step of the way (except for the curtain shopping – there are some times when it really is better to leave dad behind). We love it when you get involved, and it sucks when you can’t experience everything we are – but we appreciate the interest you pay and the reading up you do and the way you actively plan for baby.
  • Make us feel special. Speak her love language (this is an important one guys). If she is into gestures or acts of service – bring her home a bag of nappies, make her a cup of tea or book her into preggy bellies or for a facial. If she’s a words of affirmation kinda gal, tell her how incredibly beautiful she is. Speak her language. Ladies – this applies to us as well (I can definitely learn from this one too!)
  • Help with the other kids. For those couples with an existing child – one of the biggest pleas for help from the mom is for hubby to get involved and bath, feed and look after the older child while she looks after growing a second one.
  • Don’t Complain. If we forget to take a our dirty glass to the sink, take it for us. if we don’t replace the mayo at our grocery shop, buy your own mayo. To err is human, to err alot is pregnancy. Pick your battles and rather step in and help out more. Nothing we do is malicious. We are just so bloody tired all the time that sometimes we do silly things without even knowing that we’re doing them.
  • Be patient. My husband has on several occasions remarked what a breeze I’ve been throughout pregnancy, and whilst I know that, I also know that a lot of woman have it a lot harder and give their men a harder time. Regardless of your situation, be a lot more patient with your scared, vulnerable and fragile wife.
  • Be like in the movies. I always anticipated pregnancy to be bouts of me yearning for ice cream and husband dutifully driving to the petrol station 24 hour shop at 2 am for my favourite vanilla Magnum. Alas, no shops have been driven to and no vanilla ice cream cravings have taken place. But when they do, be ready. We all want a little movie romance in our lives.

* Disclaimer: Not all these comments apply to all men, and no offence was intended in this blog post. In fact, ladies and gents I welcome all comments and bragging about your awesome spouse 🙂

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Parenting: A joyful chore

Several weeks ago we went away on a weekend with friends, to watch a few of our mates (my husband included) take part in a triathlon. Amy, her hubby Chett and their 10 month old baby Ben, came along. Amy and I have been friends for more than 17 years and weekends away with the 4 of us are nothing new. Until they became weekends away with the 5 of us. That’s when everything changed. 

This particular weekend was hard. Ben had started teething, and crawling, and being a bit of a homebody felt horribly antsy at being in a strange environment, in a strange cot and with a strange new routine. Over and above that, traipsing a 10 month old around a triathlon course in 30 degree heat, would bring even the strongest of people to tears. 

To make matters worse, Ben wasn’t sleeping, which meant that neither mom nor dad were sleeping, and to say the least, tempers were frayed and nerves were shot. I remember, post race, and after about 23 minutes sleep between the 3 of them, Chett, while trying to rock Ben to sleep, looked up at me with vacant eyes and muttered ‘Don’t EVER have kids”.*

Like a moth in a windstorm, I was frazzled. Hubby and I had been taking about starting a family and now here we were, getting told by some of our closest friends that it was the biggest mistake we could make. I was ready to quit any idea of motherhood right there and then, and resign myself to being childless forever.

But – guess what – a few weeks later Ben had stopped teething and had turned back into the adorable kid he was. Amy on the other hand, fearing she had scarred me (and closed my uterus for life) kindly offered to write a guest post on motherhood, explaining why it was the hardest yet most rewarding thing one human can ever do.

Take a read – let us know your thoughts – and then congratulate every parent you speak to from here on out. Because they deserve it. 

Parenting: A Joyful Chore

This morning I woke up to my ten month old son crawling to the side of my bed, lifting himself up, and kissing me on my cheek. It was one of those moments that makes you wonder how you could have earned such love. Of course, it only takes a few seconds until you come to your senses and remind yourself that you’ve worked damn hard for this love. Damn. Hard.*

A few months back, we went through a particularly difficult patch. Ben had undiagnosed allergies and wasn’t sleeping much. He was also prone to bouts of tonsillitis and ear infections (because of the allergies) so nights with less than two hours of sleep were a regular occurrence. My husband and I couldn’t agree on anything. We walked around in a daze thinking ‘What have we done?’ and ‘Why do so many people choose to have kids?’. In an effort to feel that we weren’t alone and out of genuine curiosity, I started on a research journey to answer our ‘why?’ questions.

My initial findings weren’t encouraging. Research is pretty clear: Parents are less happy than non-parents. Children are more likely than money, sex, work, pretty much anything, to cause arguments in marital relationships.

For mothers, the news is even worse. The wage gap between working moms and equally qualified childless women is bigger than the gap between men and women.

So yes, parenting is hard. It makes our days less happy, our marriages harder, and our salaries lower. Why then, do we choose to have children?

One

Have you ever considered that holidays are less enjoyable while they’re happening than they are when you look at the photographs? Picture your last holiday and try to put yourself in the moment, say walking through a market in Thailand. It’s hot, you’re sweating, traders are haggling you to buy things, your partner is on his own mission. In the moment, you’re uncomfortable and irritable. But if you look at a photograph now of you standing in the midst of fake Polo shirts and incense holders, you’d feel very differently.

Parenthood is like that. The day-to-day business of feeding, clothing, and entertaining children is tedious and frustrating but when you look back, it’s the greatest adventure of all time. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense because it means you’re likely to have more than one child despite having first-hand experience of how tough it is.

Two

Did you know that we don’t care for our children because we love them? We love them because we care for them. At least, that’s what some studies say. The more we sacrifice for something, the more we love that thing. If you think about this in context of some of the projects you’ve taken on, your garden for example, it makes sense right?

Parenting isn’t rewarding in spite of some hard times. The tough stuff of parenting is exactly what leads to the good stuff.

Three

My Ben, as you know, had a traumatic arrival. I didn’t get that precious moment when mom holds baby for the first time and dad leans in lovingly. So many moms describe that moment as a lightning bolt realisation that *this* is everything and that your heart will never be whole again. I did get the lightning bolt a day or so after birth when I went up to the ICU to see my tube-covered, fighting-for-life baby and the nurse commented on how his heart rate calmed as soon as he heard my voice. I realised then that our connection was deeper than emotional or practical, it’s biological. That’s an amazing thing to know.

Psychiatrist and researcher George Valliant is an authority on adult development who followed the lives of 268 men for 75 years. His research was able to track many of the things that most sociology research can’t quantify and he’s quoted as saying that “Joy is connection,” and that connection is the strongest predictor of life satisfaction there is.

So if the ‘fathomless connection’ that parenting brings is mixed up in sleepless nights, arguments with your spouse, despairing over a baby that won’t eat textured foods, then I’ll take it.

* I don’t leave Ben to crawl around the house when I sleep. My husband had fetched him from his cot and was watching him play on our bedroom floor.

Amy and Ben
Amy and Ben
Ben - Proud Triathlon Supporter
Ben – Proud Triathlon Supporter

About Amy

One times 10km race runner (you may remember this post), perfectionist, empathetic and revoltingly fitted back into her size 8 jeans just minutes after Ben was born 

About Ben

Weeks away from his first birthday, Ben’s favourite activities include playing in the garden, crawling around the house, drooling… and occasionally keeping his mom and dad up at night. 

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