There are so many ways for guys to get it all wrong when it comes to pregnancy.
I’ve stood alongside a great woman and mom through three different pregnancies and I’ve made my share of screw-ups and put on my little displays of ridiculousnesses and I’ve learned a thing or two. You can take my advice or leave it. But if you are a man about to enter into the world of pregnancy, and subsequently parenthood, you might want to pay attention.
These simple truths will come in handy:
It’s time to prove yourself a gentleman all over again.
No matter how cool you had become in her eyes before, or how calm or collected or understanding of women’s minds you may believe yourself to be, the fact of the matter is quite different.
The moment you find out she is pregnant, all of your previous qualities and charms are made moot. It’s start-over time. In essence, you need to relearn the art of chivalry from the ground up. So just like every cliché you’ve always heard, it now goes without saying that fellas should be closing car doors and opening doctor’s office doors and carrying her things and all that stuff when their lady is pregnant.
But guess what? That might not end up being what she wants from you. It might even be freaking annoying to her and I’m not kidding. And you better be OK with it. Period.
Fully accept the fact and be readily-willing to admit that you know nothing about what it’s like to be pregnant.
It is much more than simply difficult for guys to understand or feel or truly get what a lady is going through when it comes to being pregnant. It’s epically impossible. And once you can accept and own that reality, you are well on your way to being the sort of man you want to be in times of pregnancy.
And … you know less than nothing about what morning sickness feels like.
Case in point: when Monica, the mother of my three kids, first started getting ill with our first child, Violet, I didn’t know what to do. I ended up overreacting way too much.
“Should we call the doctor?”
“Why is there so much puke coming out of you?”
“Is this normal?”
“Are you sure you want that fish burrito? You’re probably just gonna throw it up again in ten minutes, you know?”
Look, as men, even as empathetic men, we can never ever know what it feels like to have morning sickness. Oh, we know what it’s like to be hungover, sure, but dude, there is a difference … a major one. I look back now and realize that what I should have been doing (although no one ever told me) was to stay cool and see if she wanted me to hold her hair back as she got sick, to stand by her side and maybe say short, very simple things like: “You got this, baby.” Or, “You want me to turn on the Spotify for you while you’re in here?” Or even, “You know, when this is all over, girl, I’m going to change every diaper that needs changing.” (Hey, sometimes it’s the thought that counts, right?)
You are an outsider. So let her call the shots. And then follow orders. No questions asked.
I don’t mean this in a mean or ridiculous way. It’s just that, as much as we might respect and love and want to help out the pregnant woman in our world, we also need to understand that, for nine months, she is going to be roller-coastering through all sorts of physical and mental changes, more than we can ever imagine or keep up with. And so we need to let HER dictate to us what she needs us to do … or be.
Does that make sense?
Follow the pregnant woman’s lead, and don’t lean in too much when what the lady might desire most of all is space and breathing room and time to reflect without Mr. Hovercraft hovering around trying to spoon-feed her his ‘Special Pregnant Angel Stew’ (i.e. french fries with a super-nuked cheese gelatin sauce thing).
Don’t imagine what pregnancy will be like. It won’t be like that.
There is so much gray in pregnancy; there are so many between the lines. And it’s easy for a man to become lost down in the experience somewhere for a million different reasons, but check it out. This is the coolest thing I can ever share with you, from one guy to another.
By maintaining an open mind and allowing the whole nine months to be about learning as you go, you will be readying yourself brilliantly for what is coming at you down the pike faster than you know: Parenting.
When it comes to both pregnancy AND parenting, I have learned from my own life that it’s the guys who step back and accept the fact that they aren’t the VIP in any way, shape, or form through any of this who really tend to shine as dads. I really believe that. Men’s roles have changed a lot in our lifetimes, the same as women’s, and that’s a really cool thing.
By recognizing that your pregnant lady is a complete enigma in so many ways, by understanding that there is so much you can never honestly understand when it comes to all of this, men have this rare opportunity to be humbled by the world around them. Maybe you’ve always felt like you had everything under control or that you knew exactly what to do and how to do it.
But you don’t, buddy. Not now with pregnancy, and not later on with parenting either.
And just wrapping your dizzy head around that fact, that’s a beautiful thing, I think.