I’ve been to a few mixed boys and girls baby showers recently, and when you ask the new dad-to-be how he’s feeling, it’s always the same answer: “yeah, quite good, bit nervous, but excited obviously”, he will say, with a smile of trepidation, a nod as if to reassure himself, and eyes darting all over the place as if he is a trapped reptile looking for an opportunity to escape.
Inevitably, out of politeness, they will ask you how fatherhood is treating you, but you can tell they don’t really want a truthful answer. They want you to ease their hidden worry, pacify their fears – “yes, of course the mum’s hormones calms down after birth” they want you to say, “yeah, the sleepless nights didn’t actually materialize and the baby is sleeping like..well…a baby” they want you to say.
So, you actually give a few platitudes, say everything is fine, and watch as they breathe a sigh of relief and walk off, still surrounded by the haze of uncertainty that all dads-to-be feel. “Oh, but my one piece of advice to you is….just survive the first three months”, I say as a parting gift.
That is the piece of advice I was given when we (yes, I say we, as, let’s face it, the dad does have to endure (some of) the ups and downs of pregnancy as well) were in the third trimester, which really stuck in my head. At the time I was brazenly confident and thought (inside my head obviously) “haha survive – that’s a bit strong isn’t it. Won’t be that bad, after all, I am ready for the change in my life”. How little did I know.
But pre-birth, as a dad, I hadn’t done any reading up (left that to the mother), I had a rosy image of the labour process (I’ve downloaded an app to time the contractions and I’ve planned the route to the hospital = how well am I doing!) and I was focusing on the pre-birth buying of all the baby items. I didn’t have the time or the inclination to listen to a new dad’s advice.
And now, as a new dad, I don’t want to ruin the pre-birth “nervous, but excited” feeling with the truth of post-birth – the moodiness, the crying, the “I’m so tired I’m falling asleep at work” – they will experience it eventually for themselves. So leave those poor dads-to-be alone, let them enjoy the last few months of pregnancy, because as we all know, everything is about to change for them. Let them be rosy-eyed for a little bit longer.
Except….just remember….survive those first three months.
Let us know how you felt/feel as a first time dad-to-be, or what advice you would give in the comments section below.