Nine months is a really long time. Or at least it is when you’re waiting for your first baby. It seems like an eternity since we first glanced at that pregnancy test and saw those two happy lines on its window. Life since then has been agonisingly slow, and it seems to be getting slower every day. It must be worse for Liv, who’s stuck at home trying to keep busy while I get to be distracted by work. But actually, I’m not distracted by work – the baby is distracting me. Big time.
Normally at work I ignore my phone but now every time it vibrates I have to check. Today Liv called me about something random and said when I answered, “don’t worry, I’m not in labour!” As we reach the final days I am particularly on edge, knowing it could happen at any time.
The final weeks of this pregnancy have stressed me out way more than I expected. I’m sleeping terribly. Exhausted. Having odd dreams (the most recent: I bought a new car but got home and realised the car seat was still in the old car back at the dealer!) My right eyelid has been twitching. My tummy has been upset. People at work keep asking me if I’m OK. I nod and smile and say yes, yes I’m fine, but actually I don’t know if I am. I just can’t be bothered talking about it sometimes. It’s draining.
I haven’t heard anyone talk about how men deal with pregnancy, which is partly why I wanted to write this blog. When we first got pregnant, I expected that once we’d actually conceived, my job was done and I’d blissfully skip through the next nine months waiting for the big day. For the first 34 weeks-or-so, that’s pretty much what I did. But at about that point, I started to carry a mental weight that wasn’t there before.
I think it started with a little scare we had. Liv was worried that the baby wasn’t moving much, so we popped up to the maternity hospital and she got hooked up to the monitoring machine just to make sure things were OK. They were, nothing to worry about. And just to check, we got a growth scan done. It was at this scan we learnt our little guy was measuring 3-4 weeks ahead of average. So at 34 weeks, he was measuring what most unborn babies are at 37 weeks. I think the medical term for this is a Fatty Pants.
Because he was measuring big, we immediately jumped to the conclusion that he must be coming three weeks early. No one really told us this – in fact, the sonographer and our midwife both said gestational size doesn’t have much to do with when he’ll be born. However, we were stuck on that 37-week thing. Surely he’ll be here soon, we said.
Based on this incorrect assumption, I started expecting from 37 weeks that he could arrive at any time. This is true, as 37 weeks is considered full term. But it means that I’ve been on edge for three weeks, and that’s not good because I’m not super fun to be around when I’m stressed. If our boy is Fatty Pants, then I’m Grumpy Bum. And I have been pretty down lately.
There’s no logical reason for me to be down – pretty soon I’ll have a son! I should be stoked about that. But I’m more nervous. Not about being a dad or about the labour or anything like that. I’m nervous because I just don’t know when it’s going to happen. I’m someone who likes everything to be planned out and scheduled. I like to know what’s coming up and to be prepared for whatever that is, so when something’s completely out of my control, it’s hard for me to deal with.
We had another little scare last week – Liv called me about midday, as I was teaching. She was in tears, and said she’d had a car accident. I froze for a moment, and then asked if she was ok. She was – she’d rear-ended someone on the motorway at low speed. Ok, it’s all right. She assured me she would make it back home all right, so we left it at that and I went back to teaching my class, albeit a little edgier than before. But she called me again shortly after, saying the midwife wanted her to go to the hospital to go on the monitoring machine.
I felt pretty panicked. I told my students and colleagues that I needed to go and I pretty much ran out the school, worried about Liv and the baby and wanting to know that everything was all right. We got to hospital, got the monitoring machine going and everything seemed fine. And it was. But just to make sure, Liv had to stay hooked up to the machine for three hours. Better safe than sorry, they said. Obviously, we were relieved that nothing was wrong, but it was just another little thing to add to my ante-natal anxieties.
Our dog Rocko’s feeling it too, I think. He’s been acting weird lately. He’s shaking a lot, and sometimes not clinging to us like he used to. Like, he’ll actually stay put if we leave a room – previously he’d be at our heels with every step. It might be something else, but dogs are pretty intuitive. I suspect he knows something’s up.
So, pregnancy can be rough on dads (and dogs) too. I’m not going through nearly as much as Liv is, I know that. I am so proud of her for what she’s put up with, as this pregnancy has been awful for her. But we should also acknowledge that there is a pressure on dads, and they feel it. For some men it’s different – a colleague of mine, who’s also recently become a dad, said he felt an increased pressure that he was now the main breadwinner. Personally, that’s not bothering me, but it just shows that different men will experience different things.
And that’s all I have to say about that.