This is a precarious subject to write for about, for a variety of reasons: 1) I’m no relationship expert, if there is such a thing, 2) If I ever claim to be an expert in relationships, I ought to be punched in the face, I’m an idiot, and 3) baby isn’t here yet. However, NCT do raise the topic of baby-proofing your relationship in their classes, but don’t really give any answers, so I’m going to give it a go, from a dad’s/husband’s/male co-habiting partner’s perspective. But, because I want a chance to laugh at myself and illustrate how wrong I was, I’ll write Part 2 after baby’s been here for a few weeks and I’ll let you know how I got on!
That’s got to be a pretty big one, right? If you don’t talk to each other, discuss your hopes and fears, your wishes for the birth and raising of your child, your aches and pains, anxieties and general state of mind, you’re pretty much sunk. Sure, it’s general advice for any relationship, and one I’ve disastrously failed to take in the past. But the need for it is amplified tenfold during the emotional time of pregnancy, and I can imagine hundredfold after your tiny human is with you. Make decisions together, air your fears and grievances. Tell her you love her and that she’s beautiful, not because she needs to hear it (though she does), but because it’s true and that truth will shine from you. Tell her you’re excited, what you’re looking forward to, speculate with her how your baby will look, act, develop, what foods it will like, whether it will get on with the dog or be academically gifted. Discuss your own childhoods, and what bits you thought were great, and which you as parents never want to inflict on your child.
This is an important one during the pregnancy: Get out and do stuff. Go to the theatre, the cinema, go out for meals, meet people, go to galleries, see beautiful things, take walks along the river. It could be all too easy to stay inside with a tub of ice-cream and her favourite soap, but going out, doing things together, seeing new things or things that are beautiful and calming is good for all three of you. Despite what everyone tells you, life doesn’t end as soon as the pregnancy test shows positive.
Speaking of ‘Positive’: Positivity is going to help. She feels massive, can’t see her feet, struggles to waddle down the street, Facebook and her friends will shower her with unhelpful anecdotes, and she’s about to try and push something the size and weight of a watermelon out of her vagina. If she can’t do that, they’ll cut it out of her, then expect her to figure out breastfeeding, then you have a small fragile human you now have sole responsibility for, for about 20 odd years. By the gods, don’t be a misery guts. Don’t add to the potential negativity, don’t ruminate about all the things that can go wrong, don’t scare her. Make sure you’re informed, sure, but don’t terrify her. Or yourself for that matter, you’re of no use to anyone as an anxious wreck. (No offence to anyone with actual anxiety). Be a beacon of light and positivity, in a maelstrom of uncertainty.
Seriously, don’t be that guy. Go to the NCT, Daisy or other antenatal classes. Read the books. Read the websites. Get the apps. Whenever you can go to the midwife meetings. Definitely go to the scans. Talk to other dads and don’t let them brush you off with embarrassed banalities. You’ll be able to help make informed decisions, you’ll feel part of the process rather than divorced from it, and you just don’t want to be that guy. You know the one I mean. That stereotype of the clueless dad, uninvolved, disinterested, baffled by the ‘womanswork’ going on around you. That guy that’s the reason so many mummy blogs and pregnancy books write articles extorting dads to maybe once in a blue moon maybe try helping out a little bit during pregnancy. Please. Don’t be him.
Okay, you’re involved, you’ve ready the books, you’re supportive, open and positive. What else? Well, good news, there’s practical things you can do. Obviously there’s the dishes and general housework. But if you have a few favourite dishes you’re adept at making, make a ton of them and freeze them! Nobody will feel like cooking in those first days after you come home with baby, so having something you both love that you can make with zero effort is a win. Research! There are about 80,000 different baby products being released every half an hour, and the choices are bewildering. If you can help narrow the choices as to which pram to buy, or what the benefits of different cribs, cots and moses baskets are, it will be a big help. Assemble the pram and the cot. If you’re going down that path, decorate the nursery. Pack your own bag for the hospital! (I’ll write a separate article for that). You can’t grow a child, and when it’s here you’ll likely not be able to help feed it for a while. But with a bit of prep, there are practical things you can do, to ease the way.
That’s it, that’s all I have for now. I hope it helps!