Pregnancy can be frightening at the best of times. And not just for the mother-to-be. For the first-time dad, pregnancy is a scary world of great anxiety and fears that can be uniquely male.
Late at night, with the wife asleep, the expectant dad can be dogged by all manner of scary thoughts about the pregnancy. What do I do when the baby comes? Will the kid like me? Will he be healthy? Will he be a she? What if I’m the worst dad ever? And who is paying for its college education? Me? Oh my god.
Unfortunately, all these legitimate and irrational fears aren’t going away for nine months. And after that, there will be a whole host of scary new fears you haven’t even dreamed of yet. You’re a parent now. A father. Your life is all about scary. Get used to it.
The best advice for the future dad is to recognize the fears early on. You've got to learn to ignore the crazy irrational fears, and deal with the real ones while you can. To help you out, here are just a few examples of what really scares men about pregnancy, and how they should deal with these fears. Some seem a little shallow, but hey, they exist. What are you going to do? Men can be shallow. We’re not judging here:
13I Don’t Know Nuthin’ Bout Birthin’ No Babies
A big fear for men is the delivery room. It’s a scary, foreign place with shiny metal tools and people in masks. And once you’re there, what is your function exactly? What if something unexpected happens? What do you do then?
To be fair, no one knows anything about childbirth before they actually get
pregnant. It’s kind of a need-to-know sort of thing. But don’t wuss out by saying that you’re no doctor. So why do you need to be in the delivery room in the first place? Can’t you just wait outside and…NO! No you can’t. Don’t even think about it.
It’s no longer cool to hang out in the waiting room with a box of cigars, high-fiving your buddies. Although, I’m not sure that was ever cool. No, if your wife wants you in the room (some won’t – it happens.), then you got to be there.
You need to prepare for what you will face when the screaming starts and everything gets real tense and scary. And the best strategy for getting over those fears is research. Take that birthing class, become an expert in the whole birthing business.
Ask a lot of questions. Learn the ins and outs and complications your wife might face.
Find out what you can do in the room to make yourself useful. Be the best birthing coach you can be. A little knowledge can be soothing for those fatherly fears.
Here's some things you can do to prepare now:
- Read books together about the birthing process and baby growth and development.
- Work on the birthing plan together.
- Go to the doctor's appointment together.
That’s not to say you won’t get a little woozy when the big moment comes (that happens to), but it’s always best you go in prepared. Beyond that, you’ve already scored daddy points by just showing up. When you’re about to become a dad, attendance matters.
12This is The End Of Fun
Expecting a baby means the end of everything fun – especially all that party down, beer-chugging, devil may care, single guy, don’t give a crap, mellowed-out life of freedom and youth you once lived. No fun is all you've got to look forward to now, dad.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I’m not going to lie. Things will change. A lot. And there will be that moment – probably early on – when you regret everything and look upon that squawking little critter as a cute succubus, draining you of your youth, your hopes, and your childhood dreams. And the more children you have, the more drained you're going to be.
You can keep your youth with a little careful planning though:
- Arrange for date nights now and for after the arrival of your baby.
- You can take your baby to restaurants with you so you don't have to feel like an outcast.
Yes, your life is about to change drastically, but not necessarily in a bad, depressing, youth-sucking way. Having a baby brings joy and fun uniquely its own. Honest. And if you need to get out of the house, schedule something with your buddies. They won’t necessarily flee at the sight of your bundle of joy.
However, they may tease you a lot about being a dad, so be ready with your comeback and insults. I suggest you concentrate on your single friend’s fear of dying alone. That’s probably a sore point. Bachelor dudes are so predictable.
11Am I Going To Be A Bad Dad
No guarantees here. You may turn out to be a real bad dad. So maybe you should be a little scared. But who knows, you may be great at this whole father thing and you just don’t know it.
Just because your dad wasn’t an eager participant in your upbringing, doesn’t mean you will be the same. Times have changed. It’s not like it's genetic or anything. You may even have learned from your dad’s mistakes.
Again, do your research. Take some classes in child rearing. And child handling (you’ll be handling that kid a lot). Be informed. Get involved. It’s not like your wife is the only one with a clue when it comes to the kids. Hell, just because you don’t have her so-called motherly instincts, doesn’t mean you can’t contribute – even if it’s just learning how to install a car seat, changing a diaper, buying a baby toy or child-proofing the home.
If you feel left out or like you have nothing to do with the baby here's what you do:
- Ask and offer to hold your baby.
- If you feel awkward holding your baby, ask for tips on how to hold him/her.
- Touch your baby daily so he/she can get to know your touch, smell and the sound of your voice.
But be prepared. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to make lots of them. That’s why they call the first born the ‘Test Kid’. You’ll be a master dad by kid number three.
Just kidding. We love our little test kid as much as the others. And we’re looking forward to the day he’s out of prison and back in the family fold.
10Fear of The Unknown
Worrying about your wife and your baby’s health – during pregnancy and beyond- is just common sense. You can only do so much to safeguard your burgeoning family. The rest is up to fate. Which is always a little scary. Still, it can’t hurt to familiarize yourself with pregnancy warning signs and be proactive when it comes to doctor appointments, and birthing classes.
Once you know your medical enemies, they cease to be as much of a scary burden on your mind. That doesn't mean starting a doctorate in medicine, but you can attend the doctor's appointments and stay on top of the baby's development and your wife's needs at the same time.
Not only does this keep you in the tight loop of pregnancy, but you will feel better knowing what is going on. If you're unsure whether you should go to the doctor's office, just ask your wife if she wants you there.
And trust me, she's going to want you to attend as many as you can. Here's what you can expect at a typical doctor's visit:
- The doctor will ask the woman how she's feeling, if there's anything new or unexpected happening with her body.
- Next she'll be prepared for an internal exam. No you do not need to be present for this.
- Depending on the doctor's office, she might go for weekly ultrasounds. They will also listen to the baby's heartbeat.
- Then another appointment will be scheduled.
These are the pregnancy check up basics, just making sure everyone is
healthy and normal. Sometimes you'll want to follow up those doctor visits with something she finds relaxing. Whether that's shopping or going out for lunch, it's the little things that count.
9That Thing Is Going To Ruin The Marriage
Well, okay. That’s a scary thought. And I’d like to say a baby never ruined a marriage, but it has. Bringing a life into this world is a scary, stressful thing. And it’s taken down its share of marriages. However, according to experts, a baby very often just makes a good marriage better. It can enhance and deepen the bond between husband and wife.
Nothing brings you closer together than the new responsibility of raising a helpless kid.
On the flip side, a baby can make a bad marriage much, much worse. Sorry to say, but
it’s a terrible idea to have a baby as a means to save a marriage. It doesn’t work. You’re complicating a stressful situation with more stress. Which is bad.
The first few years of a child’s life are important for its development. You really want him or her growing up in an unhappy household of bickering parents? No.
Deal with your marriage first. Solve your relationship problems. And when that’s done, then you should think about having that kid. Of course, if the baby is already on the way, then you don’t have much time. Still, fix any marital problems. They aren’t going away on their own. It’s very important you go into this whole parenthood adventure as a functioning, well-oiled team.
If things get really tense, all is not lost. Here are a few things you can do to keep your marriage on the right track:
- Take a few minutes to gather your thoughts and calm down.
- Always say you're sorry when you know or think you're in the wrong.
- Don't allow yourself to be drawn into a fight, keep a cool head and ask your partner to sit down and talk calmly about the problem. Talking calmly will ease the situation and help you to think clearly about the problem.
If you want to keep your relationship strong try finding activities you can do as a family. Something as simple as walking together can reduce stress and keep you and your partner engaged in your relationship.
8Million Dollar Baby
Again, you are right to worry. Money will enter into the whole fatherhood experience.
Having a baby is just simply an expensive proposition, best entered into when both of you are employed and financially stable.
Of course, that’s not always possible. And life tends to be chock full of unexpected expenses. Again, it’s just a matter of research. Work out a budget with your spouse that seems do-able and stick to it. And don’t forget to leave a little every month for the ‘unexpected’. Actually, maybe you should leave a lot for the unexpected.
As for financial planning, you might want to think about some life insurance. It’s a dark thought, but what if you’re not around at some point? Is your family going to be okay? For as little as a few hundred bucks a year, you can secure their future.
A college fund is also a painless bit of security. Time is on your side right now. Unless the kid is a prodigy, you have nearly 20 years to contribute to that offspring’s education.
Need some help planning for the future? You can talk to your bank or a financial planner to find out which programs are open to you.
Or you can do little things yourself :
- Put all your spare change into a savings account in the baby's name.
- Help out people where you can to make a few extra dollars.
- Stop buying things you don't need and put the money you would have spent into a savings account for the baby.
- Get a Piggy Bank for your baby and put all your loose change into it.
7I’m Never Going to Sleep Again
Yeah. That’s true. You won’t sleep. Probably not for a few months anyways. If you get grumpy without your eight hours of shut eye, then you are going to have to learn to deal with that until your child learns to make it through the night without waking.
First, you need to figure out your kid’s sleep pattern. Once that’s done, then you can work out a schedule with your spouse; a rotation in which both of you can get some precious sleep. You can also practice healthy sleeping methods now:
- Don't watch TV in your bedroom before sleep.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible.
- Use earplugs if you need them.
- Don't play games or do anything active right before bedtime.
6The Kid Don’t Get Me
I guarantee there will be times – the teen years most likely – where
your kid will think you are the ‘worst dad ever’ and will ‘Hate you! Hate you! Hate you!’ Don’t let that upset you. You’re probably just doing your fatherly job well.
Applied to newborns, this fear is similar to the, ‘I won’t be a good dad’ paranoia. And to tell the truth, there’s no guarantee you will have an instant bond with the kid. Babies are fickle. How it relates to mommy and daddy won’t necessarily be the same.
Contact and interaction are crucial in the early months. Get to know your kid by holding it, feeding it, or reading to it. Even if they don’t understand, experts say reading is very beneficial for a child’s development. And don’t be upset or discouraged if the kid starts crying the minute you pick it up. Nothing personal. Those darn babies cry at everything. Just keep trying.
There are a number of ways you can hold a baby that will calm them down and babies are fussy, crying is the only way they can communicate before they have any language skills. Babies cry because they are either:
- Have a poopy diaper
Babies' needs are basic, you go through this checklist first and you'll find that your baby is alright. If they keep crying then something else maybe wrong; being too hot or too cold can make a baby fussy as well, but you're literally at your wits end as long as your baby isn't sick you can put them down and just let them cry for a little bit before going back and trying to comfort them again.
A trivial fear, but a true one. Yes, the days of a tidy home with non-sticky surfaces are over. You’ll have to abandon or adjust your cleanliness levels. Babies are an endless fountain of liquids that stick, stain and gush forth at the most unexpected moments.
Best you just face it right now - you and your home will not be clean again for a decade – maybe more. And prepare to tuck and roll. You will be tripping over their toys till you send them off to college.
And no, you will not be able to own ‘nice things’ anymore. There’s just no point. The kids will break all your nice things despite your best efforts. It’s just what they do. Buy cheap and pack away the antiques till the college years. If you own nice things here's how you can protect them:
- Store them in a box in the attic and don't bring them out until Junior leaves for college.
- Sell them, by the time you're able to bring them out again styles will have changed and they'll look dated anyway.
- Give them to your parents to hold onto for you.
4No Sex. We’re Parents
I won’t sugar coat it – this is a real fear. Yes, having a kid will change your sex life. There’s nothing like a squawking baby in the next room to spoil the mood. After all, sex was the thing that got you into this predicament in the first place.
Face reality - you will be tired. You will be stressed. And that kid will drive you crazy.
All those things tend to inhibit a sex drive. Your best defense to that is keep the lines of communication open between you and your spouse. Who knows? Your moods and schedules just might sync up.
Or, why not work out a schedule and a plan for intimacy. Yeah, I know. That will spoil the spontaneity, but isn’t anticipation also sexy? No? Come on guys, work with me. I’m trying to give you some sexy here.
Schedule some time alone – baby free. This would seem to be the perfect opportunity for your mother to spend some quality grandparent time with her precious little booballa. You should have at least 5 hours a week that belong to just you and your wife. You can spread this out through the week simply by:
- Giving each other a kiss hello and goodbye everyday.
- Watching a television program together before bed.
- Touching each other every day, hugs, holding hands, back rubs, anything as long as it's gentle touching.
- Going on a date night where you get dressed up, and go out for at least 1 hour.
3My Baby, My Rival
This is a real thing. You will feel neglected when the baby arrives. And you will feel bad for feeling neglected. I mean – it’s just a baby. Why am I so jealous? That darn thing poops its pants.
Like the pet cat that nobody notices anymore, dads will experience a sense of abandonment following the arrival of the baby. What was once a one-on-one relationship is now an unbalanced trio of mom, baby and….who else? Oh right. Dad.
Suddenly, everything is about that little bundle of joy, and not about you which is fair– unless you forget to take out the garbage or pick up the diapers. After all, you can pretty much survive on your own with minimal maintenance. So you simply don’t need the attention. But the baby sure does.
Babies learn so much just from spending time with their parents, so don't sit on the sidelines feeling left out, get in there and participate. It can be the simple things that make the greatest impact:
- Talking to your baby.
- Holding your baby.
Just ride it out. The condition is, hopefully, temporary. Eventually, your relationship with the wife will return to normal – though not single couple normal. That is gone forever. And if you still feel a little neglected a year or so after the birth, then talk to your spouse. Yeah, men don’t like to talk, but if you don’t deal with it, it won’t go away.
This one will come to you frequently in your scary dreams – the fear of something happening to that darn baby. But what are you going to do? The kid is your responsibility now, and with that comes all manner of fears, anxieties and paranoid nightmares.
So what are you going to do? Preparation helps. Again, a class in child rearing will help you learn the simple stuff – like holding the baby, childproofing the home, and what to watch for when your baby gets sick. It sounds like simple stuff, but a little knowledge should ease your parental anxiety – if only a little.
And if you still feel awkward with your baby, ask for tips or ask how you can help.
The biggest help you can offer is:
- Watching the baby while your wife goes for a shower.
- Taking the baby for a walk while your wife sleeps.
- Even helping out around the house will make you a superhero in her books.
But be prepared. Little Johnny or Jennifer is going to go careening into a bookcase or bounce off a coffee table under your watch. They’re curious and reckless adventurers. It’s just what they do. Best you familiarize yourself with the closest Emergency Room.
1What If It’s A Boy? Or Worse – A Girl!
If they’re being totally honest, most first time dads probably dream of having a boy, and live in fear of having a daughter. The thinking is that a boy will be easier because you already were a boy. You got experience, but girls? Yikes! You don’t have a clue how to deal with that.
Truth is, a boy and a girl will each present unique challenges for dad. Though there will be a learning curve along the way, there’s no reason dad wouldn’t find his daughters a pure delight. At least till they turn 13 or so. Then they’ll turn against you till they are at least 20. Sorry.
Again, time is on your side dad. If having a little girl is keeping you awake at night, do a little research. Defer to your wife (who is a girl), or your married friends. Even better, ask your parents. They’re a great source of baby-raising information.
If you've got nieces and nephews watch them and practice parenting with them. It won't be the same thing as having your own, but it will stop you from being nervous and give you the experience you'll need later on. You can always read books on parenting and children, but the best thing to do is:
- Relax and do what you feel is best.
- Don't be afraid to become interested in their toys and likes and dislikes.
- Don't try to be their friend, you are their parent and that's it!
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