Your Daddy's a Useless Bum

I spoke to the gynae, my mum and dad, even my happily married sister with three children, not to mention the handful of friends that have gone through the same thing I am going through now, and they all say the same thing.

Husbands are pretty useless during a woman’s pregnancy.

When a guy gets a girl pregnant, it can mean a number of things (sometimes all at the same time): he’s going to be a father, and/or his parents are going to kill him, and/or he’s gonna need to think seriously about marrying the girl. Fortunately I got that marriage thing out of the way, and my parents have been really supportive (I think). The only real issue right now though, is what do I do?

Our first ob/gyn visit, I was already warned by the doctor (it was the way she said it rather than what she said) that as a husband, the only real thing I can do is offer my support and understanding as my wife goes through the various stages of pregnancy. My own sister, being slightly more direct, has imparted to me on a number of occasions this wonderfully wise one-liner: “Frankly, there’s nothing much you can do.” But my very good friend for 19 years and almost-neighbour says it best as he drills down all that has been said about fathers-to-be into 5 concise words: “What to do? Drink lor.”

In the beginning, it was quite hard to comprehend; the mood swings, the moments where you were expected to do something but didn’t, the moments when you did something you shouldn’t have… that’s really tough, and it really emphasises the uselessness factor at an early stage of the man’s pregnancy. The thing women need to understand at the end of the day, is that men don’t. We’re not carrying a baby to term. We’re not having hormonal changes. Most importantly, we’re not Matt Parkman, and even he didn’t do so well with his wife either. This all leads to one very time-honoured fact, made apparent in the last 40 years since the advent of women’s lib, and even more apparent when pregnancy arises; women are a mystery, and men are the perpetual idiots who think they can solve that mystery. Well, I’ve also been told umpteen times (one way or another) by female friends, including my wife, that men should not attempt to understand women. It’s a failed venture that will likely not have a good ending. So we just have to grit our teeth and go along with it. Pfffft.

Thankfully, the husband’s job scope starts to get a little more obvious as his wife’s pregnancy becomes more obvious. Help out around the house. Help her up the stairs, or even better, clear the way to the elevator for her. Help her out of the couch, out of the bed, out of wherever it is that she’s sitting or lying on. Cheer her up, keep her happy, make her laugh, and enjoy the pregnancy with her. It took the last 3 months of my wife’s first pregnancy for me to learn how to be a pregnant husband, but I guess the learning process is compulsory, because no amount of advice anyone can give you is going to amount to much unless you experience it for yourself.

There are some lessons no one can teach you, because life’s always different for someone else. But from a father-to-be to another, I do have this to say. If you’re planning to get your wife pregnant, be prepared. The single most important use I’ve found for myself as a father-to-be is that even though the wife is the one bearing the child, the husband is the one bearing the love for both of them.

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