Even if you are expecting to see a ‘positive’ on a pregnancy test from your significant other for the first time, it can still come with quite a shock that might not sink in right away. If you’re not expecting it . . . well, good luck! No seriously, it can be a happy day for both of you, especially if it has taken a long time, cost a lot of money with fertility treatments, doctor visits, etc. etc. You now know you are going to be a first time dad. Now what?
As the great Craig Bollerjack, color TV analyst for the Utah Jazz, often says during crunch time of a big game –
It’s going to be a wild 9ish months. And it’s only gonna get wilder from there.
This isn’t a blog about women, women’s problems, women’s feelings, women’s emotions. It is definitely not a blog about connecting with your woman in an even deeper way. It is a survival guide to the next stage of your life, or at least the next couple years. I am a first time dad of 1 year as of 8/2013. I have waded through the tribulations we first time dads face, and I have done just about everything wrong. Some things right. Few things. But mostly I wasn’t prepared for what comes after the question above – so you found out you’re going to be a first time dad. Now what?
First Trimester = Trimester of Hell
Understand that every woman is different when it comes to being pregnant. It would be nice if there was a step-by-step guide on what we as men and future dads do for each situation. The first trimester was pretty terrible for my wife, and by association, me. It was basically 3 months of vomiting. At all hours of the day and night. I’d never known anyone that just threw up for no reason so unpredictably, so I didn’t know how to handle that.
I asked, as my wife bluntly mentioned, ‘insensitive’ questions like “can you think of anything you might want to eat and be able keep down?” and “is there anything I can get you to help your nausea symptoms?” Which brings me to my first point –
It doesn’t matter how nice you put a question, it will be insensitive, and will be taken the wrong way.
Sorry, that’s just the way pregnant women are. They are raging with hormones, can’t keep ginger ale and soda crackers down, and basically feel like garbage all day and night. How would you react if that’s how you felt all the time? I’d be a pretty surly person, especially since I am generally a grouch all the time anyway. So just be ready for your questions, looks, actions, inactions, lack of words, lack of anything to be taken the wrong way, because it will become your new reality.
Now your wife might get lucky and not have to deal with the nausea like most women have to. Some women love being pregnant, like they don’t have any problems and just emanate this angelic glow for 9 months and are basically in heaven. If that is her, congratulations! You get to pass go and collect $200, you rat bastard! For most of us poor SOBs, we get the opposite.
As the months go by, your wife will go through various stages of nesting. This means that she will build a nest in your house to put your baby in. And that nest will be your nursery. This brings me to point number 2 –
It’s all about compromise.
Even though she is raging with hormones and is irrational as anybody could possibly be, she will still react well to compromise. During her nesting phase, she will want to paint the nursery really terrible colors that a rational woman would think tacky. Rather than flat out reject her ideas, which will get you sleeping on the couch in a hurry, offer reasonable compromises. This goes for not just the color palette that she chooses, but for everything else she wants to do with the nursery and all the baby stuff you will need to buy. Compromise, compromise, compromise. This means you won’t get your way often. But it also means that irrational, hormone-filled-crazy-woman won’t either. That is basically a win. So if she wants to turn part of your man cave into a playroom with pink Unicorns and rainbows and pixie dust, maybe give in on the space but not the color. Baby crap can easily be thrown in the closet so that is a win for everyone!
Third Trimester = The Most Uncomfortable 3 Months Of My Life
Yes, the third trimester was the most uncomfortable I have ever been. And that is directly related to the fact that my wife was the most uncomfortable she had ever been in her life. Let me paint it for you: It was the middle of the summer. She was getting bigger by the day. Imagine wearing a fat suit when it is triple digits outside for like an hour. Yeah, that’s pretty bad. That is what your wife is going through if she happens to be in her last trimester during the hottest part of the year, which for me is June, July, and August. She was hot all the time – at night, during the day, while taking a cold shower, in the pool, it didn’t matter. Our air conditioning bill was outrageous for those months, and she was still hot! On the other hand, I was always cold, since our house was a crisp 62 all the time. I had to wear a jacket around the house, and whenever I would go outside, it was like I was stepping from a freezer into a furnace. Just awful.
Aside from the temperature, there is also the fact that she is carrying an extra 20+ pounds of heft off her belly. This is the time when she started waddling, and don’t call it waddling to her face. She was never comfortable. Ever. Sitting, standing, sleeping, walking. Never. Except for standing in the pool, which she said took all the weight off her back for a little while. Our bed became a pillow mountain where she would constantly shift and maneuver all night trying to find the just-out-of-reach comfortable spot. And pillow mountain grew to the point where I had about 6 inches of the entire queen mattress to myself. There I was, for three months in a constant nighttime asleep-awake state worried I would fall off my 6 inches of bed. Once again, just awful. I should have invested in a king.
This brings me to my last point –
Her misery is your misery
Be ready to be miserable together. When she is hot, you will be cold. When she is uncomfortable, you will be uncomfortable. Somewhere some wise-ass is saying that the misery you share together will bring you closer together. That is literally true, especially in the case of the bed situation.
All kidding aside, there are definitely things you can do to help her to become more comfortable during this last stage of pregnancy. Give her back and foot rubs. Chip in and do more or all of the household chores. Buy her one of those backyard white-trash pools to sit in. Help her construct her pillow mountain, and concede your personal space to her. You’re in it together, make it the best you can. Because just around the corner, you will be a new dad. And the love of your life will be a new mom. With tons of new challenges and joys that you could never even begin to imagine.
It may seem like the 9 months is an eternity long, but the closer it gets to D-day, the faster it becomes, especially if you feel unprepared. Don’t worry. You turned out alright, right? What could possibly go wrong? Good luck –
What have your experiences been like since finding out that you will be a new dad? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and contributing.