What men can expect when a woman is expecting
Men often feel like they are unable to participate during their wife's pregnancy; my wife didn't let me feel this way.
The news of conception can be kind of alarming for many fathers-to-be. While the mother-to-be is busy enjoying the extra attention, the poor father isn't given the time of day.
I believe that the dad-to-be is affected a lot more due to the added pressure of looking after two people now, from when the test comes positive to the time of the baby’s delivery.
I remember collecting the pregnancy test results on the way home from work in 2003. 'Positive' it read.
I immediately felt an adrenaline rush on reading it.
As was expected, my wife turned into the eighth wonder of the world, and I don’t exaggerate when I say this. At times, I would wonder if the wonders of the world would be intimidated on seeing the attention she was receiving!
As time passed, I felt more and more like just a donor whose work was done and over with. I grew secluded, a bit lost in my thoughts, and more fearful than anything else.
What was it that drove me to feel this way?
I often sat by my wife as she slept and just stared at her for long and I could actually hear myself thinking out loud, asking myself what kind of a father I would be.
Will I perform the role of a dad well?
This may sound funny, but the thought of the baby being so “connected” to my wife since inception often crossed my mind, and I wondered if my child would ever be as close to me. I felt like I would be competing with my wife and became sort of jealous about never having to experience the same beautiful bond as a mother shares with her child.
Of course these weren’t the only things that bothered me. I often thought of my wife’s priorities changing – I wondered if I was going to be a priority any longer. I would literally have flashbacks of the times when I was growing up. I would recall what life dished out to me and it scared me further.
Having been a son myself and having my own set of grievances with my parents, the feeling of being a better parent than my own was weighing me down. During the pregnancy, however, one of the most dominating fears was the whole thing being so alien to me. And the fact that something that was so alien for me happened to be totally natural for my wife helped little. I didn’t understand my wife’s sudden urges and cravings.
The experience was proving to be beyond me.
Many men may go through the same. Actually, I am sure all men do, but putting up a macho image is much more important for the guys, resulting in them hiding these feelings.
I was fortunate enough to have a wife who, during this most trying and exciting time of our lives, was much closer to me than she was to her own mother.
She would talk to me and discuss every little feeling to the extent that I could actually feel the same at times. She made sure that I continued to be her confidant - her most trusted person. She let me assume the role of being the man in charge.
Something which helped a lot was my habit of reading. God bless the internet which was resorted to with the smallest of mention of anything that my wife may be feeling. By the time the baby was due, I had actually become a gynecologist myself. Her constant reminders of fatherhood and my responsibilities gave me a sense of fitting into the equation. And of course, the experience of delivering the baby myself was the closest I could get to being as connected to the baby as my wife.
My wife had to go into induced labour which meant a much longer time than normal labour. It lasted for almost two days. These two days, I stayed with my wife for every minute until the baby came. It gave a whole new meaning to our relationship.
Believe it or not, during those two days, with every contraction, I would curse myself.
"What the hell have I done to her?" was the only question that kept crossing my mind. I held her hand tighter than ever before. At that moment, I irrationally hated the baby who refused to come lower and out and was putting my wife through so much pain.
The labour kept getting longer and longer, and the doctors said that if there was no progress in a few hours, they would operate. Both mothers (mine and my wife's) not being present was a blessing as it gave us to opportunity to bond like never before.
Since I had proven my worth to the doctors the way I was handling, I was involved a lot more in the whole process and almost became an assistant. The doctor told me what and how to check and to inform them when a particular event is observed.
Fortunately, the events did occur as described by the doctor and we did not have to go for an operation. Upon my calling the doctor, a brief check-up was followed by the scrubs, and then the doctor said,
"Okay, papa, are you ready to deliver your baby ? He has finally agreed to arrive."
My heart stopped for a brief second or two and immediately I looked at my wife who, without saying a word, just squeezed my hand, telling me how she would like me to do the honours! Hence, I followed her on a stretcher to the delivery room.
I was cautiously placed appropriately to deliver the baby with lots of instructions coming in from all directions. After much ado, an angel was born. I held him, cut the umbilical cord, and handed him over to a nurse standing by. Immediately after that, I went to the side of my wife who obviously couldn’t see anything at that time.
Oh the ordeal! I just kissed her on the forehead and the first statement I made was,
"I love you too much to have another baby! So let’s not even think about it!"
That’s probably the closest a man can get to "having a baby". The meaning of "we are pregnant" and "we are expecting" was finally understood!
I realised that while the woman may be the center of attention (and maybe even a nine-month-long circus for friends and family to enjoy), this time can mean the construction of a bond between the husband and wife if the wife is cooperative enough to take along the husband as the show goes on.
Read more by Ali here or follow him on Twitter @Baahirezaman