By Kingston Stewart, dad of one
When my wife and I shared the joyous news that we were expecting a baby, I happily used the phrase “we’re pregnant.” We’d waited a few months to tell our friends, and I was bursting with excitement. It was my best friend, Katie (a mom of two), who corrected me: “No, you are not pregnant. Your wife is.” And my response was something like: “No, Katie. I am going to be just as much a part of this process and this kid’s life as she is.”
Words are very powerful, and in saying “we’re pregnant,” my point was that I was going to do everything I could to support my wife. And I did. I read every book about pregnancy, labour, delivery, midwifery and parenting I could find. I attended every single appointment and prenatal class. Immediately after our son was born, I took five weeks off from work, as well as two months of parental leave at the end of the first year. I got up every time he cried in the night and brought him to my wife to nurse. I attended every appointment with the lactation consultant so I could understand and learn too, especially because of how difficult breastfeeding was at the beginning. I was fully engaged, supporting my wife and my son, and participating in any way I could. She did all the truly hard work, but we were a team. Forgive me if that seems boastful, but I’m proud of my role. And frankly, more dads should celebrate—and not downplay—their contributions, too.
Carrying and delivering a child is the most remarkable thing on this planet. I will forever be in awe of what my wife experienced in giving birth to our son. My concern with this debate is that I think it’s misplaced energy. By interrupting, arguing with and correcting men who use this phrase, you’re putting them in their place and deflating their excitement.
Rather than picking away at how my choice of words might be technically inaccurate, let’s pause and celebrate the real sentiment behind what many of us dads are trying to express.
By Kalli Anderson, mom of two
I’m all for equality in parenting. I love coed baby showers and dads who baby wear and the equal division of laundry duties. And I couldn’t have gotten through two pregnancies and the past four years of child rearing without my husband, who is an awesome dad.
But for the many things my husband does, there are some he has never done. He hasn’t spent months feeling a tiny, strange being slowly take over his body, sucking the life out of him like a parasite with a penchant for kicking his bladder and getting the hiccups at 2 a.m. He has never had to outgrow every pair of his shoes or have someone “gently” stretch his cervix. And he has never endured hours of contractions and pushed a softball out of an opening that is, well, a lot smaller than a softball. We are both parents. We both love our children. We both made two babies. But “we” were not pregnant, “we” did not give birth, and “we” are not breastfeeding.
I know, I know—it’s equally exciting for both parents to find out a baby is on the way. And well-meaning non-pregnant partners want to share in the joy and have their contribution as parent-to-be recognized. However, saying “we’re pregnant” is not only factually incorrect (and, frankly, kind of cheesy), but it is also disrespectful of the often brutal physical and emotional challenges of actually being pregnant.
I’m sure in this age of gender-reveal parties and Instagram worthy birth announcements, couples are just trying to be fun and cute with their “we’re pregnant” chalkboards and bunting. But try telling your wife—as she dry-heaves for the fourth time that morning—how excited you are to also be pregnant, and see how cute she thinks it is then.
Of course, there are some rare instances in which two spouses who both have uteruses are each inseminated simultaneously and conceive successfully. If that’s you, then congratulations—post the “we’re pregnant!” status update now. For everyone else, I have two simple, accurate and infinitely less eye-roll-inducing words for you: “We’re expecting.”
A version of this article appeared in the April 2016 issue with the headline “Should you use the phrase ‘We’re pregnant?’” on p. 88.