Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We all love the lists.

If you are looking for a good book to open up some constructive dialogue between you and your spouse, I suggest The Modern Mom's Guide to Dads: Ten Secrets Your Husbands Won't Tell You.  It is co-written by my friend, Hogan Hilling.  Hogan has just been commissioned to write a new book, 35 Things Future Dads Should Know About Pregnancy.

Hogan asked a few people to submit a few suggestions, so I came up with the 10 below.  Feel free to add your own!

10 Things Future Dads Should Know About Pregnancy

1) Pregnancy is a HUGE deal for your wife.

While you may from time to time forget your wife is pregnant, your wife does not. She is changing physically, mentally and hormonally. Dads need to be as involved as possible—go to medical appointments, rub cream on her belly, talk to the baby, ask her questions regularly about how she’s feeling. When you are exhausted, try to remember that she is probably even more so. And if your enthusiasm is waning, fake it.

2) She will still (most likely) want to have sex.

While the thought of getting it on won’t likely cross her mind while her head is in the toilet, hopefully her nausea will be short-lived. Many women actually report an increased libido at various times during pregnancy. Some guys feel weird about having sex  “when my kid is in there.” Sex with your partner when she’s pregnant is completely safe and normal. You aren’t going to poke your kid in they eye and you aren’t going to hurt him. Talk to your midwife or obstetrician about it if you are worried. Sex is an important part of any relationship—it can still be during pregnancy. It can also be reassuring to your wife when she is as big as a house that you still think she’s beautiful.

3) Find someone else to whom you can complain.

If your wife has been barfing all day, peeing all night or watching her body transform into a dirigible, she doesn’t want to see you feeling hard done by about taking out the trash. You surely have some legitimate gripes that we all have from day-to-day; you just aren’t likely to get much sympathy from your wife when her feet look like float plane pontoons. Find a buddy or even a counselor on whom you can unload if you can’t keep it to yourself.

4) Sympathy pounds do happen.

God knows why, but as women put on the pounds during pregnancy, men often do, too. Don’t let this happen to you. Try to keep (or get) fit when she is pregnant. You are going to need a lot of energy when your little one comes—especially in those first few crazy, early sleep deprived days.

5) Trust her intuition.

No, I’m not talking about who is going to win game four of the NBA Finals—I’m talking about her body. Your wife is experiencing things that she has never gone through before. If she is concerned about how she or the baby is doing, suggest going to the doctor or calling the clinic. You can’t lose here. You are being caring and supportive and putting your family first---even if everything is “perfectly normal.” Trying to reassure her that everything is fine or telling her that she is just imagining things won’t get you any brownie points.

6) Be the protector.

Embrace the cave man within. Tell strangers who try to rub her belly to back off. Ask sick would-be visitors to stay at home until they are healthy. Halt women who are about to tell their “labor horror story” (every woman loves to tell one) and ask them not to continue if it entails accounts of 36 hours of pushing, forceps and a caesarian. Your partner will find this endearing (as long as you don’t punch someone’s lights out) and you get to swell your chest a little, too.

7) Ask questions.

Ask your wife how she’s doing. Ask other dads about their experience. Ask other moms, too. Read books. Ask questions at medical appointments. Ask. Ask Ask.

8) Don’t let the hormones get to you.

It’s a pretty safe bet that at some point, that wonderful cocktail of hormones which are concocting the perfect home for your growing baby will also have some pretty trippy affects on your wife. This isn’t to diminish her feelings, nor is it an excuse to get you off the hook if you are being a dud of a husband. This is simply to warn you not to take things too personally if the hormones do turn your wife into some B horror film character.

9) Make a big deal of pregnancy number two.

Chances are if you are reading this, you are expecting your first baby. Tuck this away for any and all subsequent pregnancies. People make a huge fuss over you when you are expecting the first time. They say “congratulations” the second time and then get back to whatever they were doing. This pregnancy is no less magical for your wife, however. Try not to slip into “been there, done that” mode. Even if others fail to recognize the significance you must give it the attention it deserves.

10) Share your concerns about her pregnancy/child birth/becoming a dad.

As men, we like to have all the answers and we like to be in control. Just as your wife will experience things you can’t possibly imagine, you will have feelings and concerns that aren’t on her radar. While point #3 suggests you can’t have concerns, you can. Just be diplomatic. “Honey, I know that you are doing the bulk of the work here, and you are doing it beautifully, but when you are up to it, I have some concerns I’d like to talk about, too.”

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