Bluebottle exorcises all his pregnancy worries, gripes and demons in preparation for a blessed event.
Pregnancy is often one of the most memorable occasions of a woman's life, but how does it affect the husbands and partners of the pregnant?
According to the media, all a husband has to do during the nine months or so in which his wife is pregnant is to avoid making comments like 'Has anyone told you lately that you're the size of whale?' and smile knowingly when watching her cravings result in the desire to eat chalk and coal sandwiches. Then, right at the end, he gets something to do, such as phone for a taxi or ambulance, find hot water and towels1, and then, in the hospital, patronisingly tell her to remember to breathe.
One thing that no–one ever tells you about is how lonely it can be when your wife2 is pregnant. When my wife was in the early stages of pregnancy she spent much of the time tired and exhausted, regularly going to sleep at 7pm. As I work until 5pm and don't get home before 6:30pm, this meant that I didn't get to spend much, if any, quality time with her apart from at weekends.
Another stage the in pregnancy is the morning sickness phase. No–one enjoys the morning sickness phase –especially your wife. She needs your help, love, encouragement and support throughout this, often the most difficult and disheartening step. Especially as you will be the one cleaning up the vomit. Of course, this pales into insignificance if you and your wife learn of any potential problems with the baby, and you have to go back to the hospital for further tests.
Antenatal classes are another part of the experience. These tend to be very female oriented, often held in the maternity hospital3. Even when not held in the maternity hospital, they tend to be held in female–friendly locations, such as the Doctor's Surgery, which are full of posters aimed at women and women's gossip magazines.4 When attending, one thing I noticed that in the corridors between the front door and the room that the classes are held in we passed eight ladies toilets, but not a single gents. I was also the only man in the room, with the other pregnant women being supported by their mothers. My role was expected to be putting all the chairs in a circle at the start of the session, and then stacking them up at the side of the room at the end. The rest of the classes seemed to be aimed either at the pregnant women themselves, or their mothers who, naturally, had previously experienced child birth. All of this may well help to put the pregnant women at their ease, but makes the husbands feel out of their element. A similar situation occurs when going to the scans. Regardless of the fact that whenever you go for scans, they always end up running at least 2 hours late without informing you. Yet this frustration is worth it when you finally get to see the baby, even though the staff practically ignore you in favour of doing several measurements of every part of the baby.
Another challenge with pregnancy is what to do if your wife suffers really badly from hayfever during one of the warmest summers on record. Sadly when you are pregnant there isn't any medication that can be taken for hayfever, and my wife dislikes both honey and yoghurt, which are considered alternative remedies. This has resulted in my wife shutting all doors and windows, being trapped inside the house, which has, during the day, become hotter and hotter until it is unbearably warm, uncomfortable not only for my pregnant wife but also for myself and my young son.
When your wife is pregnant, whenever you sit down beside her on the sofa, it is only a matter of time before your hand is suddenly, without warning, grabbed, wrenched and bent into an unnatural and uncomfortable angle and thrust onto her belly for you to feel a baby seconds after it has finished kicking. In the mornings you have the joys of putting her socks on for her, and at night you have the joy of trying to share a bed with the 300 pillows that have suddenly materialised and take up every available inch.
Of course, a lot of the fun is the arguing over names. When asked to write lists of names that are liked, completely different suggestions can come up. The two conflicting lists of boys' names suggestions might be similar to this:
|List 1||List 2|
As soon as it is known that there is going to be a baby, suddenly long lost, but much loved relatives with extremely daft names are invented that someone wants the baby to be named after. The discussions over what to call the baby can go on for far longer than the pregnancy before any compromise is reached. My parents argued over my name, which was changed three days after I was born, but fortunately before my birth was registered.
To conclude, pregnancy is a time in which you see your wife transform from being a lively, energetic woman into someone incapable of putting her own socks on and exhausted by a short walk down the road to the newsagents. Yet the big question, and in the end the only thing that matters, is asking whether it is all worth it –the answer to which is a resounding yes.The needs of pregnant women