Becoming a parent is one of the most amazing things that can happen to you throughout your life. But as a dad, there are obvious differences in the pregnancy experience from what our partners encounter. It doesn’t make it any less of a rollercoaster ride though; there are high and lows, it’s a manic pace, and there will be both fear and exhilaration throughout.
Whether it was planned or a surprise, seeing that little positive marker brings a whole range of emotions. For me it started with absolute joy, followed by fear and dread, a touch of anxiety, self-doubt, then determination.
Trimester 1 – The New Puppy Stage
For our partners, telling us that we are going to be a dad must be like bringing a new puppy home; you have to deal with someone that is overly excited, makes lots of new noises and won’t leave your side.
The first couple of weeks are a whirlwind, as all the necessary appointments are made, then, it’s the waiting game to tell everyone the news, if you follow the rules, (it’s advised to not tell anyone until the 3 month stage, but I would advise telling people closest to you whenever you want to; as if you are unfortunate enough to experience a miscarriage, from personal experience you want the people closest to you for support through that), so you are a tightly wound spring of excitement, desperate to share it. On top of that, you may find yourself becoming noticeably (and unnecessarily) overprotective. None of these attributes are helpful to our partners, who are going through a whole different set of physical and emotional experiences, and don’t need a new puppy to deal with too.
Trimester 2 – Impending Doom
Once all the initial excitement has dissipated, and the realisation that things are going to be very different in the not so distant future begins to sink in, fear starts to take over. By this point there will be a scan picture and the start of a bump will likely be visible, and all of a sudden, it’s no longer a notion, but a physical reality staring us straight in the face. Realising that you are going to be responsible for someone other than yourself soon is a scary thought, and it fills us with doubt. All the while, you will be trying to hide this feeling of dread from your partner so as not to stress her out (or at least I did anyway).
This is an entirely normal reaction and nothing to worry or be concerned about. Our partners know that we are feeling this way (as they are probably feeling something similar) and it will make them feel less stressed if they know you are feeling the same than if you are completely laid back and blasé (correct me if I’m wrong mums).
Trimester 3 – Dad Mode
This, in my opinion, is when you actually become a dad (mentally at least anyway). By this point, the fear and self-doubt are gone, excitement is starting to creep back in, as your partner becomes increasingly fed up with the turmoil that they are having to endure, our role starts to evolve into that of a dad.
Light-heartedly I would say that the last few weeks of pregnancy are solely designed to prepare a dad for parenthood. In all seriousness though, this is where you are needed more than ever, physically, emotionally and mentally, and it begins to prepare you for the rest of your life; as there’s soon going to be someone that needs all of you all of the time.
Birth – The Beginning (Not the End)
No matter how many books/articles you read, or classes you go along to, nothing can prepare you for this. Everybody’s experience will be different, and I know this as I have personally been at opposite ends of the experience scale (from emergency C-section to planned C-section).
You may see a different side to your partner that you’ve never seen before (labour drugs are strong), you may experience pain or profanity, or you may even be told that you’re never touching her ever again. But what you need to remember in this moment is, she is doing something for you that you can never do in return, so suck it up, cut her some slack and be what she needs you to be in the moment. Because, at the end, the beginning of your new life starts, and it will be worth it.
Stewart is a Daddy to three boys and a lifestyle blogger from Scotland. His blog concentrates on the day to day life of a dad of boys; how to entertain them, teach them & ultimately raise them to be the best that they can be. You can find his blog here and follow him on Instagram too.