Welcome to the longest 3 months of your life. Scratch that. The second longest 3 months. The actual longest will be the third trimester… waiting, and waiting for the baby to come. The moment you become a dad.
So that night of mind blowing sex ended up being more than just sex. That’s right, your sperm made it to the egg!
This is not Caveman Time, so don’t think that you are now relieved of your duties once conception occurs.
You may or may not have to put down the nightcap -depending on how your partner feels about it- but you definitely do need to take part in this amazing journey.
There are a few ways that men typically handle pregnancy:
- Avoidance: If she’s ok, you don’t need to be involved much.
- Helicopter: Monitor every bite of food and every box she lifts.
- Walk-On-Egg-Shells: You try to help but don’t know how.
There is an even balance to strive for though: Supportive, helpful, and happy.
This can be hard, as the first trimester can be difficult to commiserate with because she is not showing yet, nor can you feel the baby move.
Here’s how your partner may feel over the first trimester:
- Fat (it’s not fat – it’s bloat, and it will turn into a baby belly soon!)
- Horny (or NOT)
You need to digest the huge life change that is happening too. While you may not feel an attachment yet, it will happen – and that emotion is like nothing you have ever experienced before. But during the first trimester, life is pretty much normal for you – the dad. You continue to work, exercise, cook, grab a beer with the guys, whatever. But, deep down inside there is a slight panic. Even if you are over-the-moon-thrilled with this pregnancy, there will be a lingering feeling of nervousness at what the future holds.
You see, there is absolutely nothing you can do to ensure everything will be ok with this pregnancy. You cannot protect her by slowing down over bumpy roads, and you cannot put her in a bubble that keeps someone from coughing on her. You cannot prevent a possible miscarriage, and you cannot read her mind.
So here I am, typing to you – the dad. My husband has lived through the first trimester with me 5 times, one of which was a loss at 9-10 weeks along. Each pregnancy has made him more comfortable with boundaries and what helps – and what doesn’t.
What doesn’t help:
- Avoiding talking about the baby.
- Acting as though she is so fragile she cannot carry something.
- Not helping around the house.
- Causing avoidable stress.
- Excitement over the pregnancy: the absolute only acceptable reaction to learning about the pregnancy is happiness. Even if it wasn’t planned. She will already be emotional; do not add guilt to her plate by reacting negatively.
- Genuine Interest: Ask how she is feeling each day, and then listen to her answers.
- Support: You don’t have to hold her hair back while she experiences morning sickness, but avoiding the topic altogether isn’t very supportive. Ask her how you can help each day. Encourage her to exercise daily, and then do it with her. Read a good pregnancy book, or at least skim it. Just show her support in any way you can think.
- Compliments: Chances are that your partner isn’t feeling her absolute best right now. I promise that your words are enough to help turn around her day.
- Small Gestures: Bring home flowers or a special dessert she may be craving. These are the things she will remember (and brag about).
- Help: Pick up a few extra house chores so she can relax a bit, she is growing a baby. Cook for her if she has food aversions, and make sure she is eating as organic and healthy as possible. Remind her to take her prenatal vitamins
Advice from my husband:
- Pick up a copy of ‘Husband Coached Childbirth’ to flip through when you have time. It will open your eyes to pregnancy and birth from the dad’s perspective.
- Be adaptable: She may want to change plans at the last minute. That is okay, although very frustrating. Her emotions and moods are all over the place until the hormones balance out. Try to understand and not become upset.
- Take over the finances if possible. She may or may not want stay-at-home with the baby, and finances are not something she should be stressing over. (Did you know that stress can affect the baby’s brain development?) Start trying to live off just your salary and save the rest so that she can decide about working or not without the worry of needing her income.
- Rub her back (or feet or shoulders) each evening. She may not look pregnant, but she is.
- Be involved in the list making and baby product purchasing. My husband is in charge of installing car seats and he takes it very seriously, which I LOVE. He is stronger than I am and can get the seats installed tighter (and safer) than I can.
- Remember that this is just a season of your relationship. Stay connected through it, even if the physical aspect is lacking. Play games, read books together, go on dates if she wants to.
- Take pictures with her. Cherish every little moment.
- Just love your partner. She is amazing.