Parker Alan Ludwig was born at 1:45 a.m. on Dec.19, making me an uncle – again. Both mom and baby are doing fine, as is my beaming brother.
After visiting the baby at the hospital, The Wife and I attended a cocktail party and learned a close friend and his bride are expecting. All this baby talk got me thinking about pregnancy.
As I spoke to a new dad and a soon-to-be dad, I started to remember some of the lessons I learned when The Wife was preggers. I compiled these tips into a top 10 list for expecting fathers. Here goes:
1. Compliment your pregnant partner. She looks great and telling her so doesn’t mean you’re admitting to some weird pregnancy fetish. It’s the truth. She needs to hear it…. often.
2. You are going to ask some dumb questions. I remember asking the instructor in our childbirth class how we would know when The Wife began having contractions.
The instructor couldn’t describe the sensation but guaranteed the pregnant women in the room that they’d be able to recognize the sensation immediately.
At the time, the question sounded reasonable. After having a baby, it sounds ridiculous.
3. I have no idea what it feels like to be pregnant, but I’ve heard from enough women to know that the last three weeks of pregnancy are the worst. One mom told me that the horror of those final weeks is what motivated her through labor.
“I just wanted that child out of me!” she said.
4. The Wife and I make most of our decisions jointly. But with some of things about pregnancy, men have no business offering an opinion. Things like epidurals, C-sections, and breastfeeding are all decisions she gets to make on her own. Don’t even think about challenging her on this stuff.
5. Bring a toothbrush to the hospital. Seriously. Women in labor have a sense of smell that rivals the Wolverine. If she smells your beer breath while trying to deliver a baby, expect to get punched.
6. You don’t have to sleep at the hospital. Sleeping in the recliner next to the hospital bed sounds romantic, but it’s really uncomfortable. Most couples choose a hospital close to home. If she’s cool with it, duck out in the late evening and sleep in your own bed. Come back first thing in the morning. Bring doughnuts.
7. You paid for all of the Vaseline, diapers, and giant maxi pads in the hospital room. Take any hospital-provided supplies with you when you leave.
I’m not suggesting walking off with the light fixtures. Those extra gauze pads, however, should definitely get stuffed into your overnight bag.
8. Most doctors say to wait four to six weeks after giving birth to resume sexual activity. If this sounds like a long dry spell, you’re a lucky man. However, don’t worry about it. Chances are you won’t have the energy or desire until about then anyhow.
9. Once the baby is born, true friends know to bring food when visiting. You may appreciate the company in the weeks after leaving the hospital, but you’ll definitely appreciate a hot meal.
10. Spend as much time at home after the baby is born as possible. It might sound silly to burn through all your vacation time or comp time, but you won’t regret it. Mom will appreciate it too.
Good luck. You’re a dad now. Do your best, and you’ll do a great job.
Image credit: Bianca de Blok
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.