During pregnancy women go through so many changes, physically and emotionally. Well, duh right. Did you know that many people have categorized some of the big changes as milestones of pregnancy? (For the record, I will be touching on said milestones throughout this article.)
Every woman handles each one differently, some women don't experience some of these milestones--ever, or if they do, they are less a milestone and more of a pebble in the road of their journey.
So then, what about the other half of this equation? What of the men who put forth half the effort into making this new life you carry? Certainly their journey doesn't end once they have heartily given their donation towards the future. How do men handle these milestones?
Obviously they don't have the physical aspect women have, most of the time, but I'm sure they have their own feelings to deal with at each step of the journey. As many of you know, men can be a bit funny, perhaps even hilariously illogical at times during pregnancy, making us ladies, the supposed super hormonal ones at this time, shake our head and laugh. Or at the very least give them a good withering look.
This first step in your long, and not long at the same time, road to parenthood starts with a positive pregnancy test. For most, the positive test comes with pure elation, tears of joy, and the knowledge that you now have a really big secret you want to share with the world. A few react in a less happy manner, but if the pregnancy was unexpected then it can be a scary time.
So how do guys react when they hear the news that they will be a father? The consensus seems to be that, even a planned pregnancy, the positive results usually put fear into a man. Why? A lot of men, while wanting to be a father, start worrying about the future, their past, and if they will be good enough.
My friend, we shall call her Rural Momma, revealed to me that when she and her husband finally got a positive pregnancy test he was in disbelief, the good kind. They had been trying for about 6 months before she finally got pregnant, and I know that's not that long compared to some but for guys it's an ego thing.
They like to think it's something that can be done in the first few tries, my own fiancée was of this similar belief when we tried for our second child. His belief was based on the fact that the first one happened so easily (and admittedly unplanned), so there was no "trying" period to speak of.
This one might go hand in hand with the positive pregnancy test for some, you were sick for a while and after realizing it's not a stomach bug you tested for pregnancy. As most women know the name Morning Sickness is a joke.
For anyone who was "lucky" enough to experience this part of pregnancy you know that it is pretty much all day sickness, with tiny and almost unnoticeable times of reprieve before you are thrown right back into wanting to toss your cookies. Those of you ladies who skipped right past morning sickness, well you can bite me.
It's not hard to imagine, nor do I blame you whatsoever, that with all that sickness comes a bit of complaining or outright crabbiness. I mean, come on, you're pretty much sick to your stomach 24/7 till at least the end of the first trimester. Depending on when the morning sickness starts, it can seem like forever.
Men, on the other hand, have the good fortune of listening to us women gripe about it. They don't understand what it's like, nor will they. So how do they handle this stage? With about as much grace as a bull in a China shop.
Our well intentioned other halves tend to open their mouths with the audacity to ask us why we complain so much. Now not all men react this way, and some even go so far as to be all knight in shining armor who holds his fair lady's hair back as she vomits profusely for the billionth time.
Let's just say those men are rare, where was that guy when I was, sadly, throwing up outside Red Robin during my first trimester of my second pregnancy? I'm sorry if that wasn't a pretty picture, but where was my "knight" you ask? Laughing at me as he strapped our 16 month old into her car seat. Honestly though, aside from that dick moment, he has been wonderful to me through this pregnancy.
Your first prenatal appointment, it can feel like a lifetime till you reach this point. You are officially pregnant enough to see the doctor and dive headlong into your prenatal care. Trust me when I say that it gets old, especially as you get closer to your due date and you start seeing your doctor weekly.
For a couple though, the first appointment is exciting and a little nerve wracking. What questions do you want to discuss, will you both like your care provider? Will you both be involved in asking questions or will he let you drive this crazy train?
It's a lot, and as excited as you are to learn your due date (if you haven't calculated it out yourself already), get answers to pivotal questions, and start to build the relationship you will have with your care provider for the next 9 months, it can seem overwhelming.
A ton of information is given to you and put out there for you that you weren't expecting. What to eat, what to avoid, more pills on top of the regular prenatal vitamins you should already be taking. Do this, don't do this, avoid this at all costs. So how does the guy react to all of this?
I am giving away guy secrets here, but they are just a nervous as you, if not more so. First of all, you brought a guy to your OB, no matter how cool he may act, he's nervous. This is a place of medicine and your fun parts are not allowed to be fun here, this is where they intrude upon your privates for the sake of health.
To a guy there is nothing sexy about a pap, which is totally ok, because I'm pretty sure I speak for all women when I say there isn't anything sexy about a pap for us either. Secondly, you are going to talk due date, when your last period was, and when you think you might have conceived.
No matter what kind of strut he may have around you on the conception of your child it will be long forgotten in the OB's office. A guy's base instinct is to sit there quietly and provide morale support.
There is nothing better than hearing baby's heartbeat for the first time, and every time thereafter. It's comforting for a mom-to-be to hear the strong and steady heartbeat of her little one. It puts worries at ease for a little while and let's us know they are healthy and happy. Some mom's tear up at the sound, so perfect and wonderful.
Luckily this milestone happens usually with the previous milestone of your first prenatal appointment. Unless of course you are me and your children refuse to be heard the first time around, both of them. Seriously kids!
Unfortunately for my fiancée, during our first time around he didn't get to hear his daughter's heartbeat till we went to the hospital cause I thought I was in labor. Technically I was too, but it petered out and since I was only 38 weeks they let me go. For him being able to hear that heart beating, was like his world was complete. His words, not mine.
He became teary eyed and it was super sweet. From that moment on he knew that little girl had him wrapped around her little fingers and she wasn't even out yet.
Rural Momma said that her husband recorded the heartbeat, that's one proud daddy right there. A moment in time preserved, such a sweet thing to do, and it makes me wish I had done the same with my first.
Your first ultrasound, be it in the very beginning to check in and make sure that little baby is coming along nicely or at 20 weeks when you can find out what you are having, there is nothing like seeing that tiny babe up there on the big screen. Bonus, you get to take home photos of your tiny tadpole!
Depending on when you have your first ultrasound you might have different emotions, if it's real early you might still get choked up at seeing that tiny zygote, but it also might look a bit foreign and you may feel a bit disheartened by it's non-baby look. Don't worry, it's ok to feel that way. Baby takes time to look, well, like a baby.
So how does dear dad-to-be handle seeing his baby for the first time on the big screen? On this one their reactions are similar to ours. Shock, and awe, and sometimes stupid jokes, ok so that last part is all of them. We would never call our future child Toad, like from super Mario Brothers because her first ultrasound had her looking like a tadpole.
It doesn't mean he is any less impressed by baby's growth or any less in love with the little wiggler. He is just preparing to be a dad, terrible dad jokes and all.
This may be the most awaited day for parents. To find out baby's gender, whether it's during that 20 week ultrasound, at a gender reveal party thrown for you, or when baby arrives it's all very exciting.
Sometimes, even when you find out ahead of time, you can still be surprised. One mother's reaction, and love, was caught in photographs as she was presented a baby boy when during her ultrasound she was told she was having a girl. Her look of initial shock in the photos is priceless, but then the total love and satisfaction of having brought this wonderful new life into her world is very evident in following photos.
Though it is rare, these kinds of surprises do happen.
So what of dad in this situation? As you can imagine he too was pretty well stunned. In the end the photo of him loving his wife and new son speak for themselves. Such a sweet and touching moment.
What happens when you find out baby's gender and it wasn't what you wanted? It happens, you hope and wish for a boy or a girl only to find out you are having the opposite. Disappointment can be real in these cases, though once the dust has settled many mom's and dad's excitedly await baby's big arrival. It just takes some shifting gears sometimes.
A few mom's get very excited about being able to buy and wear maternity clothes, others want to stretch their regular clothes as long as they can, and some never buy more than a Bella Band and shirts the next size up. Though for most, buying maternity clothes is a right of passage. It means your body is changing to make room for baby and that's ok.
I must admit, I wasn't expecting to go into maternity clothes again as quickly as I have the second time around. Shopping for new clothes can be fun, even if you only need them a short while. Lots of mom's-to-be enjoy the opportunity to buy cute new outfits to show off their bump. Some dread it, though those are mostly the ones who dislike shopping anyway.
Dad's on the other hand dread clothes shopping, it's the end price that scares them. Though if your guy is anything like mine, he will understand the need and even surprise you with a shopping trip to treat yourself to some cute new outfits. Total brownie points there guys, take note!
No, these aren't butterflies, nor gas bubbles. Those flutters you feel are baby kicking, though only you can feel them. Weird at first and for a lot of first time mom's, they go unrecognized, but when she does finally understand, it really hits home that there's a tiny person in there. That realization brings joy and excitement for us mommas.
Once your guy finds out you can feel the kicks, he too will be excited, but also disappointed at the same time cause he has to wait to feel them himself. If he's anything like my guy, he will be annoying about it too, in a cute way. Always trying to feel for himself when you tell him the baby is kicking.
Once the third trimester rolls around you pretty quickly get used to Braxton Hicks contractions, or false labor contractions as some call them. Those of you ladies who never felt the Braxton hicks, it is pretty much just your uterus tightening, but it doesn't hurt, though it may be a bit uncomfortable.
Real labor is a whole other can of beans, those hurt and the pain varies from person to person as well as if the labor started naturally or if you were induced.
As happy as you might be that soon you will meet your brand new addition to your family it can hurt. Sometimes that pain wins out over the happiness feeling and we mom's get a bit snippy. Hopefully your husband doesn't make things worse by being a jumble of nerves when you tell him you're in labor.
Another friend of mine, we shall call her Mainely Momma, told me about her labor experience with her first child and her husband. Apparently when she told him it was time to head out to the hospital he went stereotypical movie-scene dad on her. Running all over the place in a panic, while she more calmly stood by and watched.
Apparently he couldn't find his keys until she suggested he check his pants pocket, and viola, they had keys.
Finally you are going to meet that tiny version of you that has been cooking these past 9 months. Labor is a long, painful, and tiring process; especially if it is your first child. If you chose to deliver naturally then you might react as one woman I heard did when I was walking around the hospital in labor trying to help things progress.
Sadly they only did a bit then stopped and I was sent home. That lady I mentioned was shouting obscenities and screaming bloody murder, even sailors would turn red at the mouth on her. A kindly nurse rushed by and I must have had a worried look on my face because she stopped and tried to assure me that this woman's reaction was out of the norm and that I would be fine.
Needless to say I am still a bit haunted by that woman's shouting, though I am no longer frightened by labor and delivery itself but that put me off a natural delivery.
My own mother told me a few funny stories of how my father handled the deliveries of my brother and myself. Disclaimer, my dad could not stand the sight of blood. As most of you know delivery can get pretty messy and bloody, so when my brother was born he nearly fainted and had to use the oxygen mask meant for my mother to help stay conscious.
When I came along however it was a different story, being a little over a year later, my parents were again in the delivery room at their local hospital on Cape Cod. The OB handling the delivery felt that it would be a while before I was ready to come out so he went on a break leaving an apparently green nurse in his stead.
When my mom told the nurse a little bit later that she was ready to push, the poor dear panicked and went looking for the doctor. The story goes that my mother delivered me with no assistance and I sort of just popped out. Dad's reaction this time? He just stared in awe and went, "Oh cool!" Yes folks, that was my dad and I am proud of it!
In the end everyone handles the milestones of pregnancy differently. Men just tend to be more clumsy than us through it, but we love them more for it. It's even great when we are having super hormonal days and our guy just stands back, letting us know he loves us and letting us have our way.