For the sixth time in sixteen years, I’m thumbing through my dog-eared copy of Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade B. Curtis, M.D., OB/GYN. The medical stuff kind of goes in one ear and out the other at this point – I get it. What draws me back week after week are the “How Big Is Your Baby?”, “How Big Are You?”, and “How Your Baby is Growing and Developing” sections in each weekly chapter. It just makes it all seem more real, somehow. Wow, my baby is the size of a softball now? Or, wow, I only should have gained 8 to 10 pounds by now? Uh oh . . .
Also somewhat entertaining are the weekly “Dad Tips” – practical advice for the expectant dad aimed at helping him be a good expectant dad. A sampling:
Clean or vacuum the house without being asked. Wait. Clean or vacuum the house? Since cleaning the house involves a whole lot more than just vacuuming, which do you think most expectant dads would pick? Also, without being asked? What, do you expect him to be a mind reader?
Bring home flowers for no special occasion. Um, the fact that this tip is in a pregnancy book means that the special occasion is that she’s pregnant.
Pregnancy is an opportunity for increased closeness and intimacy for you as a couple. Sex can be a positive part of this experience. Written by a man for a man. Like any man needs to be encouraged to have sex. Although, some are heebie-jeebied out by the whole pregnancy thing. I’ve heard.
If you go out of town, call her at least once every day. Really? Men need to be told this?
When you need to be away or out of touch, ask friends and family to check on your partner or to be available to help out. You know, like, for instance, if you have to go to Washington DC. For a week. And she’s left to take care of your six spawn while growing the latest baby you put in her. Hypothetically, of course.
Around 20 weeks of pregnancy, your partner may have an ultrasound exam. Try to be present for this test. Again, men need to be told this?
Now’s the time to begin discussing baby equipment, such as cribs, car seats, or blankets, with your partner. You’ll need to make some of these purchases before baby’s birth. Okay, listen up: there will be no discussion. She will pick everything out. Just go along with it.
Alright. After some pondering, I’ve come up with some real tips for expectant dads – from a woman who knows (not from a doctor who never has been and never will be pregnant):
Do not scoff at her need to take pregnancy test after pregnancy test, either just to make sure, or each time hoping for the other result.
Do not stare at or acknowledge in any way the huge hormone-induced zit that has sprouted on her chin. She can’t help it, and she’s desperately trying to wish it away. Just tell her she’s beautiful.
If your snoring should keep her awake at night, go sleep on the couch.
If her pregnancy-induced snoring should keep you awake at night, go sleep on the couch.
Don’t mess with her Ben & Jerry’s. Trust me on this one.
Don’t mention how tired you are, or how your poor widdle back hurts. Seriously. Do you have a live human being inside you sucking the very life out of you? No, I didn’t think so. So shut up.
When she starts unselfconsciously scratching her expanding belly (and she will), just tell her she’s beautiful.
Buy her Tums. Just for the heck of it. And hell, throw a Snickers in there, too.
If she should happen to wax bitchy or tearful, just tell her she’s beautiful.
Do the obvious things that need doing: if you see that the garbage can is full, empty it. Instead of balancing one more cup on the pile of clean dishes in the dish drainer, put the dishes away! And for god’s sake, take more bread out of the freezer if you use the last of the fresh bread!
Remember: just because she’s hormonal and bitchy does not mean that you’re not actually being a jackass.
Whatever you do, do not chuckle as she screams, pushing a human being out of her vagina, even though she insisted to you beforehand that she’s not a screamer.