Man, oh man, we are in the third trimester.
I just read a few of my older posts, back from when we were trying to get pregnant, and not having an easy go of it. Back then, I really felt like we’d never get to here, and now here we are! Last Thursday marked day one of our 27th week.
Our baby now opens its eyes, can hear sounds, and hiccups (according to various internet sources). I was able to feel it through Julie’s belly several weeks ago, but get this, yesterday I SAW it move. That kid has some guns! Julie was just sitting there, and said, “You have to check this out!”. I did, and from accross the room, was totally able to see the side of her belly bulge out and go back in. Very Ridley Scott, but in a good way.
Being pregnant is fun and awesome and terrifying. I’ve wanted to be a dad for a long time, but I am also aware that the full experience of having kids can’t be explained in a conversation or a book. I am always amazed at friends who have become parents, and what effective people they have to become to rise to the occasion that parenthood presents. I’ve often wondered how they do it all. I guess I am about to find out.
It’s a little bit weird being the dad half of this equation in our culture. It used to be that expectant fathers were supposed to continue as normal, until the day the baby arrived. Then, they were supposed to sit in the pub and wait for the call to find out if it was a girl or a boy. At that point, they were supposed to hand out cigars. That’s the story anyway. I’m not sure if it was ever really just like that, but it isn’t like that now.
Men these days are supposed to take an active role. We’re supposed to be better partners in parenting. We attend prenatal courses, and show support, and are present to help at the birth. Again, that’s the story, but is it really like that, and if so, what is that like?
What does it mean to take an active role? How do I show support? I’ll agree that drinking at the pub and handing out cigars doesn’t really enhance the experience of my family. It doesn’t really help my spouse nor my child, but at least that’s a role that’s definable.
I have a very strong desire to be a good dad, and I am really excited about the coming of this child and I feel I am and should be a part of the pregnancy, but just what I am supposed to do is frequently lost on me. I find myself inventing things. For example:
- The first thing that occurred to me after Julie told me we were having a baby was, and I am not kidding – I said this out loud: “I have to vacuum!”. At the time it was true. Our carpet was filthy. I didn’t like the idea of a baby crawling around on that. Let alone that we had plenty of time to clean up, and have in fact moved since then.
- I have changed my handwriting. I think I am getting this one from my dad. He didn’t change his handwriting, but his writing is very elegant and legible. Mine never really was. I think for lack of something else to focus on, my brain decided that this was imperative to do before my kid arrived. While this might seem futile, and I don’t think it’s actually enhanced the experience of my family, I am happy to report it worked. My scrawl used to consist of crude block letters, all capitals, drawn from the bottom up. I now have perfected a cursive script that is legible, and actually takes me less time to write.
- As I mentioned in my last post, I recaulked the tub.
- I’ve also been filling in more domestic roles lately. I do most of the cooking and the cleaning these days, as Julie is, at 27 weeks, much less energetic and mobile than usual. Much to my surprise, I’ve been finding I really enjoy that, particularly cooking. I’ve been cutting back hours at the office, which hasn’t been great for the pocketbook, but when chores like those aren’t done late at night, after working a day that’s extended well past the standard 8 hours, I’m finding they can be very enjoyable.
- I’ve gone to every doctor and specialist appointment with Julie, except for one (we double booked before consulting with eachother). I don’t have much to add to the conversation usually, but Julie says she appreciates me being there.
And maybe that’s “showing support” and “taking an active role”. Apparently that’s how I am defining it. That works for me just fine, and so far as I can tell, Julie thinks I’m doing alright. I frequently say “we’re pregnant”, and that’s how I like to think of it.
Still, there are times when it’s really apparent that I am not pregnant. I was the one who coordinated getting into our prenatal classes, for example, (at an outfit called Mothering Touch – perhaps this was a clue). I entered my information on a web form, and they called me back the next day. The person who called was flummoxed by the fact she was dealing with a me, a male, to set up the course. The first thing she did was to ask to speak to “Mom”. I was on my cel at work, so I told her I could give her another number if I had to. She was willing to let me tell her when our baby was due and what course dates would work for us, and it all worked out fine, but but it was apparent in that moment what was expected of me, and it wasn’t to have a role in this part of the pregnancy.
And that’s the weird thing I am finding in the experience of expectant fatherhood in this day and age. There’s a desire and a hope in this culture that men will be more active as parents, but the expectation is that they probably won’t. There isn’t a defined role for us to play – it’s a choice at every turn. There’s also biology at play here – Julie is very definably pregnant right now. I have to opt in to identify as pregnant. Once I do, I get to define that role as I please (with some help from the other half of this equation).
I can remember wanting for us to be pregnant, and thinking I’d blog about every detail, but I find myself a little short on details. I’m kind of making them up as I go along, and they don’t seem exciting enough to blog about. Seeing the baby move, that was a remarkable detail. Making a casserole last night, not so much. That said, it was mighty yummy!