Adam is a blogger at Hanging with Dad and a stay at home dad to Isaac, who is 2. He and his wife Erin are also expecting their second child soon. I’ve followed his blog for a while now, and find the perspective he takes on his role and the expectations of men in our society fascinating. I asked him to explain the side of a pregnancy we don’t often get to hear about – the father’s side. How does it change him? What’s the hardest thing about it? Is he nervous about adding a second child during the day to his routine?
1. We talk a lot about how pregnancy affects a woman mentally. But how does it change you? Are you emotionally different those 9 months?
I don’t think I’ve been emotionally different the past 9 months. Believe it or not, when my wife’s at work I rarely think about the fact that she’s pregnant. Between the fact that the kid isn’t in my body, I’m following Isaac around everywhere that he goes and trying to get work done I don’t really have time to think about it. The biggest impact it’s had on me is that Erin’s really tired when she gets home from work now, meaning that I sometimes have to corral Isaac away from her so that she can have some down time/put her feet up after a long day.
There have been several times when someone’s asked me how far along she is and I can’t answer. All I know is the due date (though that’s changed now that we’re at the weekly appointment phase).
2.What resources have you found that are good for dads expecting a child? Are there any you wish were more available?
I might be a bad guy for saying this, but I didn’t really read a single thing about child rearing before Isaac was born and definitely not before this one is coming. I kind of figured that between hanging out with my cousin when he was born (I was 13 and spent half a day with him every day for a summer), and being around my nephews as they’d grown up the previous 3-4 years that I could wing the rest of it. I don’t really know WHY I did that, but reading about it didn’t seem like something that would be productive. And, in all honesty, it seems to have worked out pretty well.
After Isaac was born, however, I did watch “The Happiest Baby on the Block” and that REALLY helped us out. I now buy swaddle blankets for all my friends who have kids because I swear by them.
3. What are some of your fears during a pregnancy?
The biggest fear I have during Erin’s pregnancy has just been the complete lack of control I have over it. Sure I trust Erin to do all the right things, but it’s just really strange that I’m half of the reason that this child is coming into the world, but my job was essentially done as soon as the egg was fertilized. After that I just kind of sit back and wait for 40 weeks, and that complete lack of control is a weird feeling.
4. How do you feel about the general expectation that men should accept women being cranky and hormonal for 9 months, without really getting to say anything about it?
I don’t think men should accept that their partner is going to be cranky and hormonal at all. Sure there will be days that they will be, and sure they might tire out more easily, but I really believe that your attitude is made in your mind. If you wake up every day and think “I’m going to have a good day”, it works wonders. (Though all bets are off if they have a pregnancy where they are having legitimate health issues because of the pregnancy, one of my wife’s co-workers was sick all the time and could barely bring herself to work. People like that get a pass in my book, you’re going to be cranky.)
Besides that, I think it’s important that both sides realize that while the woman might be about to become a mother (for the first or 10th time), she’s still the partner and you’re still a duo. And because of that it’s important that you make time for each other and ensure that your relationship is strong. It doesn’t help the baby any to be raised in an environment that features a strained relationship, and if the pregnant one is crank and hormonal the whole time, the relationship is definitely going to be damaged.
So I definitely think that if a man is feeling marginalized that he needs to speak up. Open lines of communication are important, and if you can’t tell your partner that they’re bringing you down or you feel ignored then there’s work to be done on the relationship.
5. You’re a stay at home dad. How do you think a second child will affect your routine?
Honestly this is the part that I worry about the most. Isaac and I have a routine, and it’s a good one. We eat breakfast, play or go out, eat lunch and then he naps. That gets us through half the day. But now we’re about to add in a little one who can’t handle being up that long. When Isaac was little I was lucky to get 90 minutes out of him before he needed to nap, and needed to nap bad.
So what am I going to do when Isaac is needing to get out of the house, but the newborn is crashed out in the swing for (if they nap like Isaac) 2-3 hours? Will Isaac get mad and resent his sibling? Will I have to wake up the baby and get out of the house?
And what am I going to do about getting #2 down for naps? I used to rock Isaac to sleep, but that sometimes took up to 20 minutes. Lord only knows the trouble that Isaac can get into if I leave him alone for 20 minutes, I can hardly leave him alone for 2 minutes without something being put in danger. Will I be able to figure out a way to get #2 down in a short period of time? Will I turn to the television for help even though we don’t really let Isaac watch any?
And what about on days that Isaac goes to Mother’s Day Out? I have to leave the house at 1:30 to pick him up from school, is that going to interrupt #2’s nap time? I know it would have with Isaac. So will I be stuck with a cranky newborn every Tuesday & Thursday evening?
Long story short, I think I’m going to be baby wearing a whole lot more with #2 and, hopefully, Isaac’s routine won’t be broken too much. If it is then I hope he’s as easy going about it as he tends to be with everything else.
6. Do you find life as a SAHD easier out and about with an infant or toddler? Why?
I’m going to have to go with a toddler on this one. Yes it involves a whole lot more talking (and chasing) as I try to get Isaac to not destroy things at the store, but it’s so much more fun to watch him play.
When he was an infant there wasn’t much that I could do that was fun. I could take him to the Children’s Museum, but he couldn’t do much more than lay there as I hung toys over his head, made faces at him and acted the fool. Most of the things we did were just things I found interesting and he tagged along for. Now he’s running around, playing with kids and, while I’m trivialized in it all, it’s great to watch him grow up.
Sure there are times where I miss him being snuggled up on me in my wrap, and there are times where I miss having him in the wrap when he couldn’t grab everything, but I also don’t mind not sweating all the time because of the wrap.
7. Are you ever effected by your wife’s cravings? Good or bad?
I’m effected by Erin’s cravings all the time, not just during her pregnancy. My wife has a sweet tooth, and I have self control that comes crashing down once I give in. This makes it incredibly hard for me to feel good about what I eat on a regular basis. Fortunately she hasn’t gotten many cravings during pregnancy that are out of ordinary from non-pregnant times, and when she does it tends to be things that I don’t like (like Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, that stuff is nasty).
After Isaac was born and we had weight gains issues with him, I definitely indulged in eating with Erin and packed on some sympathy weight that hasn’t fully left me yet. Apparently it’s not a good idea for a non-breastfeeding individual to tack on those extra 4-500 calories a day…who knew?
8. What would you recommend wives do to keep their husbands/partners feeling like part of the pregnancy? What do you do on your own?
The biggest thing to me is to make sure you schedule your prenatal appointments at a time where he can be there.
Not thinking about whether or not he can make it to the appointment is, in my opinion, selfish. Since we can’t carry the baby and are disconnected physically from the little one, prenatal appointments are the time where things seem the “most real”. Whether it’s an ultrasound where you actually get to watch your child move, or just hearing the heart beat, it’s a wonderful thing. If you just see pictures after the fact it’s not the same thing.
Fortunately with Isaac I had a job that allowed me to leave and get to all the appointments, and that was a wonderful thing. I still remember sitting on the couch, counting the heart beats and watching my watch to figure out what the heart rate was. Since we didn’t do any ultrasounds after 20 weeks (and didn’t find out the sex), it was the closest I could get to being involved in the pregnancy.
Diana blogs on raising a toddler daughter, the loss of her twin boys, and their families’ Korean adoption on the aptly named Hormonal Imbalances. Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
MORE FROM DIANA: