I remember the day I found out I was going to be a dad. It was Mother’s Day, oddly enough, and I was out with some friends. Like any good husband, I called my wife, Thalita, to let her know (read: ask permission) that a group of us were going out for a bite to eat and that I’d be home later. This wouldn’t have been a problem any other time, but this time she said, “You can go if you want to, but we haven’t seen each other all day. Don’t you want to come home?” So I said goodbye to the guys and headed home—but not before picking up some DQ Blizzards to share. Better safe than sorry, right?
When I got home, there was a package waiting for me. Inside were three positive pregnancy tests. It hit me: This was about to get real. Over the next eight months, we experienced some of the best and most beautiful moments of pregnancy. Here are some things I learned along the way.
1. Know that you will become a full-time nurse, personal chef and concierge service
You’ve just levelled up in the journey of manhood: You’re going to be a dad, so you’d better get used to your new role. Your partner’s mind and body are about to undergo some massive changes and, as the pregnancy progresses, things will become more difficult for her. The more you work together, the easier this stage will be for both of you. I should also note that, at any given time, your partner reserves the right to ask for (and receive) a foot massage. When the morning sickness comes (and it will), keep a stockpile of ginger ale, salted crackers and spearmint gum (not peppermint, as peppermint is too strong and will upset her stomach even more). Also, after each assignment, be sure to follow up with “How else can I help?” Trust me, she’ll love this one.
2. Sleep while you still can
People said this to us a lot, and it never made any sense to me. It’s not like you can bank sleep for when your baby arrives. After having kids and knowing what sleep deprivation feels like, I urge you: Sleep now while you still can. Don’t just sleep; enjoy sleep. Reflect on how silent the house is right now. As soon as you’re done reading this, go have a nap—because you can. Appreciate the very real possibility that you could be napping right now.
3. Understand that the middle part of the bed is now where your human-size body pillow sleeps
The further along your partner gets into the pregnancy, the more physical discomfort she will experience. That means she’ll crave comfort and want to cuddle (a lot) more. She may also need extra support. We called our body pillow “Ian” (don’t ask me why—we never really talked about it). Don’t take this personally, guys. Not only does your partner need more rest now than ever before but she also needs to be comfortable. Having the space she needs is a good thing, even if it means that she is cuddling with a pillow named Ian. Be there for her—the pillow won’t be there forever.
4. Don’t miss the “sex window”
If you were “trying” for kids, then you’ve spent the past several weeks—or months—having more sex than you could probably handle. Well, let’s hope you enjoyed it. In the first trimester, your partner will probably be feeling her worst. The constant nausea, breast tenderness and sheer exhaustion that many women experience in the first trimester aren’t exactly aphrodisiacs. During the second trimester, though, she might start to feel like herself again. Take advantage of this window of opportunity—it won’t stay open for long. You’ll soon realize that connecting on an emotional level is what she needs right now, and it won’t go unnoticed.
5. Don’t put off those little house projects
Think of all those little jobs you’ve been putting off for years, like painting the trim or filling in nail holes from the gallery wall you hung back in 2014. Sadly, I made the mistake of waiting until our twin boys were in the NICU before finishing the stair treads and flooring for the upstairs landing I had walked on a million times before. Don’t be like me; just get it done.
6. Know that food aversions are just as bad as cravings
During pregnancy, food cravings are not only more intense but also often overshadowed by food aversions. If your partner suffers from these, you can pretty much say goodbye to chicken wings, beer, eggs, toast, salt-and-vinegar chips, pancakes and anything else you once considered delicious—their aromas will be too much for her to handle. Use this opportunity to explore new foods. Pick up a cookbook or search for new online recipes that you can cook together or you can prepare for her. Though there might be a lot she won’t want to eat, find some common ground and have fun!
7. Understand that you’ll fight and love harder than ever before
Over the next nine months, you’re both going to be pretty vulnerable. Understand that your partner is going through an incredible shift in identity—not to mention all those physical, emotional and hormonal changes. You both need to talk through your feelings. Guys should use this time to take a step back and really try to understand where these emotions are coming from. By taking the time to do this, you’ll be able to listen and truly understand each unique situation as she experiences it. Remember that you love each other. Let love win.
8. Get involved in the research and buying decisions
Take some initiative and research different products you’ll need once the baby arrives. Baby items like strollers, baby monitors and bottle warmers will be getting lots of use from both of you, so you’ll want to do some research and make a list of pros and cons to compare with hers. For some dads-to-be, this is the moment when things become “real”—when you realize that you’re going to be a father who will be pushing a real live baby in that new split-levelled, multistage, collapsible stroller with optional cup holder and ultra-glide shock absorbers.
9. Tell her those pants do not make her look fat
This is the most important lesson I learned during pregnancy: When she makes a proclamation that sounds anything like “I’m so fat,” “I feel like a whale” or “What is happening to my body?” if your response is anything but “You look amazing—I’ve never been more attracted to you,” then you might as well just pack your bags and call up your parents because you’ll be sleeping on their couch for the remainder of the pregnancy. Here’s the thing: She already knows the answer. She is looking for reassurance that she is still the love of your life, so you’d better tell the truth: “You look amazing—I’ve never been more attracted to you.”
10. Don’t miss out
All in all, pregnancy is messy and beautiful, all at the same time. You’re in it with your partner, but to do that, you need to be on the same page and be prepared for how your life is about to change. Don’t wish it away or ignore that it’s happening. Live your life, go out to eat, spend time with friends and keep getting to know your partner. Enjoy every minute of it because it will fly by and, before you know it, your house will be overrun by bottle parts and baby toys. Love your partner, and be the father you know you are.