Pregnancy is full of surprises for both parties. Not only is every pregnancy different, but no one can possibly know what they’re getting themselves into or what the duties of their sidekick will include. The person soon-to-be momma is closest to goes through a totally unprecedented, unfamiliar experience. So when dads look back on that experience and compare what they thought it would be like—and what actually played out–there are some discrepancies.
We can all go wading through Pinterest for endless pictures of dutiful partners kneeling, kissing pregnant tummies (ideally in a silhouette against a sunrise) and think we know what pregnancy is all about, but there's a lot in those pictures that we’ll never know. Plus, there are plenty of unforeseen changes in those pictures that they didn’t even know at the time. In short: we’re all always learning. And since it’s all about learning, the best case scenario is that we can learn from the experiences other parents share, only to avoid their mistakes (or to be better prepared when we make those mistakes). Plenty of parents have made mistakes in their pregnancies, and these dads are here to look back on what they had no idea they were getting into.
20 It's The Little Things
There’s being a sweet and considerate husband, and then there’s preventing any more misery than is absolutely necessary. The second is just the first one on steroids. When asked what little things made the difference in their pregnancy, one dad responded that "My poor wife had very bad morning sickness with all of our kids, so I made sure the toilet was always spotless. No one actually wants to puke into a dirty toilet. Especially when you spend hour-long sessions sitting directly next to one."
19 Home AKA The Tundra
Everyone always says it, but all pregnancies are different. Knowing this, it makes it hard to anticipate what odd issues will arise in every woman's pregnancy. It seems totally random but as one husband remembered and advised to others, "temperature wise, prepare to wear a jacket around the house. My wife was hot all the time.” Of course, this could totally go the other way and maybe the pregnant woman will have the heat amped up. Basically, everything will be turned upside down and you need to have all kinds of backup plans at the ready.
18 There's No Right Way To Feel
Things get really awkward when other people tell you how to feel when you're expecting. And as one father remembered, "I felt no joy at all, I wasn't happy, my kid was driving me crazy, none of the warm fuzzy happy buzzy feelings people said I would get occurred, that made me feel like [expletive] because [what] was wrong with me? I felt like the worst dad in the world and I rapidly sunk into depression that took me about two months to extract myself out of."
17 Some Things Don't Look The Same
As far as things getting weird, you know you’ll be up close and personal with your baby. They’re your baby and diapers are there for a reason, so the safe bet is that you can’t possibly anticipate how much you’ll get to know each other. But sometimes your baby won’t even go to the bathroom in recognizable ways; as one father said, "When your child is born and poops for the first time, it is literally like tar. It's SUPER sticky and takes a long time to get rid of."
16 Things Will Get Weird
Pregnancy symptoms are vast and far flung and completely transform the body in ways that are really difficult to predict. Of course, sometimes the way the body responds doesn’t even seem related to what’s going on. For instance, in one father’s list of the myriad health side effects his wife went through, he mentioned, “Symptoms of pregnancy include congested, bloody nose.” The human body is a mysterious one. This effect in particular doesn’t even seem related to making a baby, but everything the body does is for a reason.
15 Everyone Needs Support
Between expectations for men maintaining a lack of emotion or neediness, and the fact that your significant other just performed the most impressive physical act, dads can get forgotten in the mix. "Mum will not be entirely responsive for a short while (meaning hours) and will be in pain for a few days, so dad will have to do a h—l of a lot. He might cry. He'll definitely panic. And the sad thing is everyone will be too concerned with mum and baby to notice."
14 Different Things Bug Different People
Possibly the only thing more incredible than a single person raising a little baby to be a (hopefully) good person is that two totally different people would come together and share the endeavor as one (most of the time). Of course, everyone has their own anxieties. Neurosis is always a personalized fit. "In all likelihood, each parent will have different peeves and different anxieties and different small pleasures and so on within the experience of having and raising a child, and that can cause complications if you're not careful."
13 It Becomes Real To People At Different Stages
When you're not the one growing a baby, it can really differ when this new human becomes real to you. There isn’t one way to feel or one special moment. According to one very honest dad, “I felt nothing until I heard the heartbeat and again it wasn't anything ground breaking. I was early 20's so I wasn't prepared at all. Honestly, the feels part didn't hit until after the birth and I was holding him and he looked at me."
12 Some Longer Than Others
In contrast to the post above, sometimes it becomes real after the birth. “Probably happened for me way too late, but when my girlfriend's water broke on the hospital bed and then shortly after when my son was first coming out. It was a lightheaded feeling and it was surreal. The moment from then until seeing my son with his umbilical cord cut, then laying in his bed to get a diaper on and everything in between was a blur. Truly an amazing experience and it changed me forever.”
11 And Sometimes It Takes A While
And other times, it takes a little longer. That doesn’t mean the bonding between father and child won’t happen — it just happens in its own natural time. According to one father, “I honestly don't think I got 'the feels' until he was about six months old. Nothing special, was just changing his diaper, but then started playing a peek-a-boo type game where I'd look away, then quickly look back at him and he had the biggest smile. When I first thought 'Huh, I guess you are pretty cool.'”
10 You Will Be Out-Armed
Most men are pretty aware of how their bodies can't do what a woman's can, but they don’t know the whole story. One mother shocked her husband when, "I went to my sleeping husband, straddled him, woke him up, and said 'Hey, guess what?' He groggily looked up at me, grumbled 'what?', and I squirted in him the face with my breastmilk," the mother told Reddit.
"I spent the next 20 minutes chasing him around our apartment shooting at him with my boobs, laughing hysterically because he couldn't disarm me."
9 You Can't Control How You Feel Or How You'll Look
Of course, it’s an uncanny experience for the person you know best to change so much in such little time. Pregnancy affects women’s bodies differently and is perceived differently by their partners. One father remembered, "She just looked hilarious, but in an adorable way. She's so short and had this massive belly, couldn't help but giggle every time I saw her. She was a good sport about it though.”
That was good of the new mom since that joke could totally get old.
8 But It's Not Necessarily Silly
Again, every pregnancy is different and for some fathers, they could never have expected how beautiful pregnancy would look on their partners. Even though people in mainstream culture are familiar with the glow of pregnancy, the effects don’t exactly conform to old fashioned beauty standards for women that encourage thinness. Not that it matters, but not everyone is on the same page about beauty taking many forms. While some of the descriptions get pretty in depth and graphic, one father said, "She was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Hair, skin, face, body."
7 Jokes Aren't Always Taken As Jokes
One man boiled it down to very simple terms: "Jokes about weight are not funny.” You got her into this situation and she has to go through way more body realness than you, so you don’t get to rub it in. Even if she looks like a little Oompa Loompa and you’re Willy Wonka, you’re both in the same factory. You both have a connection to this baby and have to accept the changes that come along with it. Be nice to each other and enjoy the downtime while you have it before the baby arrives.
6 Stay Humble
Of course, parenting is something both parents hopefully go through together, but nonetheless, “Just remember it isn't about you at all for the first ~6 months [sic]. After month 6 or so it starts getting a lot easier.”
It’s an experience that’ll get fathers used to not being the first priority now that they’re part of their own family, but it’s still a rough learning curve. It can be difficult to learn how to be part of the background excellently. It doesn’t have to be isolating, just humbling.
5 And Realistic
There’s the very real facts of life: death, sleep, and “It's expensive. What comes out does in fact look like an alien and no, you cannot tell your wife/gf that.” Of course, that baby is your alien but that doesn’t mean it looks any less like an alien. The mother might be able to see how beautiful your baby will eventually be, even if the father doesn’t at the time. Of course, no one wants their work criticized and she did just put in a lot of months on this little project. So appreciate beauty in its many forms.
4 Rude People Will Be Rude
It’d be really nice to imagine that everyone would handle the news well and be supportive, but this isn’t a perfect world. Sometimes people are just rude about things — even when there’s no reason to be rude about it. For instance, "My fiance's mother said 'so when is THIS going to happen?' after we showed her the ultrasound pictures. It was said in the most disgusted tone of voice.” I guess that grandma might not be the silver-haired old woman with cookies we all dreamed of.
3 You Take What You Can Get
It’s not like the work all starts when the baby is born — the time before the birth is just prep time. It’s like a huge test: you study for it while you still can. Then, of course, the rest of the test goes on for… well, forever. One dad broke it down to this: “The nine months here aren't just for the baby alone. They also give you two time to prepare (mentally, emotionally, financially).”
Sorry parents, there's no procrastinating on this, even if the deadline feels a ways away.
2 There's Introductions To Make
No matter what, the first few days after having a baby will feel weird. ”My wife had a C-section and they… just handed him to me… It feels like when you go out to a bar with a friend and HIS friend that you don’t know and then… you’re alone with this new guy and are just kinda like, 'So...uhhh....where did you say you met Steve from again? High school. That's right… I like this place...They have good happy hour… So where did you meet Steve???'"
1 You'll Be Surprised By Who They Become
There’s a lot of time to imagine what life will be like with this new person but, “Before the child is even born don't have any expectations as to how it should be, because you may be disappointed.” Maybe you dislike cilantro and your mini-me will love cilantro; there’s no telling. It’s a cliche for a reason; only time will tell. You'll find out who they are and love them just as they are. You’re just along for the ride and that’s a lot to look forward to.