SO, YOU’RE GOING TO BE A DAD.
Finding out you’re going to be a dad can be a damn scary experience. Planned or unplanned, the news hits you the same way: straight in the damn face.
Pregnancy won’t be the same as it will be for the mums-to-be (it’s very different!) But you both go through your journeys that eventually lead to the same destination: a baby.
As a dad-to-be, during the first trimester, you may not be experiencing symptoms like nausea, dizziness, joint aches, or strange aversions to once-loved foods and smells, and at the end of this process, you certainly won’t be the one giving birth.
Instead of feeling pain in your body, you will almost certainly feel it in your wallet. Spending money is inevitable, so expect a different pain to announce itself in your pocket.
In other words, you’re about to embark on an adventure, which, in the end, is instead a big deal.
It will change your life, making you work hard during long days while making you feel incredibly useless (there’s a good chance that you are already a pretty useless guy, so you won’t feel much difference).
I remember when I first found out I would be a first-time dad.
It was date night. I was downstairs, lighting the candles and organising the placemats for the home-cooked meal we were about to smash out.
Due to COVID times, we couldn’t leave the house and decided to buy a 3-course dinner and get some posh gin from the local supermarket. I paid £40 for that gin…
I was pouring the liquid gold, hoping it had the power to make me five years younger, when FG (my other half) came storming down the stairs.
Her feet are normally extremely heavy, and I could sense every step she made upstairs, usually because a ploom of dust would fall from the ceiling every time she moved to the other side of the room.
“Babe, I think I’m f*cking pregnant.” was the first thing that came out of her mouth after mauling down the stairs. I know, not the most elegant way for her to announce to her partner that we were taking our relationship to the next level and bringing an offspring into this world, but all the same, I found it rather romantic.
The shock hit us both, and the £40 bottle of gin was now solely mine. I’m unsure if this was a good or a bad thing, as she refused to go half due to her inability to have any. It was good gin, though, and it didn’t take me long to drink the whole bottle over a week.
When the pregnancy test changed colour, it didn’t initially sink in. I remember looking at my partner and saying, “sh*t…..” and not knowing what to say.
The evening was pretty much a blur from then on, and the raunchy date night we had planned turned into a 10 pm bedtime.
There are a few indicators that point you down the road of pregnancy. You need to have your sensible head on to notice them and not brush them all under the carpet when they expose themselves while you’re watching the game, mowing the lawn, or trying to get a quick 30-minute nap.
The top five indications that your journey to fatherhood is about to begin are as follows:
Your partner missed her period. This isn’t something you can discover off your own bat, but I imagine your ears will immediately prick up if you hear this in a passing conversation or on a telephone call to one of her close friends or cats.
Your partner’s taste buds change: When she’s cracking out the Vaseline on toast, be very wary and suspicious that something is happening well out of the norm. If Vaseline on toast is normal in your household, you can strike this off.
Sickness: Scheduled throughout the day or night may not mean she has the norovirus or a dodgy kebab. Sharpen up, mate, and read the signs.
She’s lethargic: She’s knackered and needs to sleep. She’s not lazy but skipped dinner and went to bed at 6:30 p.m. Why not join her and catch up on some of your sleep too after a long day’s work
Breast engorgement: This is a symptom we will most likely note. We will possibly even spot this before she does. Be warned that this causes tenderness, so don’t touch willy-nilly.
Keep an eye out for the above, as these symptoms will give you a very good inkling if your partner is about to drop a bit of a bombshell.
From a serious perspective, I think it’s important to note that it’s ok not to feel emotion when realising you will be a dad. It can be a shock, and taking time to process it and think about it is sensible. It took me over a month to register the news and think about how my life would change. Take your time.
There is a huge amount to think about over the next nine months, and if your partner is anything like my partner, the parcels will start being delivered almost instantly with cute bits and pieces. People will also start buying you gifts. Don’t expect a new 4K TV, but some cute clothes that will help with the baby’s needs nearer the time.
You will think about everything and anything in between on the journey to fatherhood. Things like getting registered at the hospital, how many times you will need to hold your partner’s hair back in the first trimester, your situation at work, potential names, your insurance situation, and how you want to structure your new nursery in the right way, even though you won’t use it for at least the first six months
Enjoy this time, and don’t change too much to begin with. You will need to change some bits to ensure your partner isn’t doing anything that could endanger your unborn baby.
Here are the obvious changes you must make almost immediately to ensure your partner has the best possible start.
Cleaning up after pets: Turning a blind eye to the cat turd on the carpet is a thing of the past from now on. Moving forward, removing any pet excrement must now be at the top of your priority list. This is due to Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection in little tiddle’s deposits. This can be a cause of miscarriages and stillbirths, so do be aware.
Do the gardening: You’d never let your partner near your perfectly manicured lawn anyway. This is the same reason as above; buried poo has the same effect. If you want to make the most of the one week of summer we get in the UK, make sure those surprises are cleared from your perfectly soon-to-be dadscaped lawn.
Handling raw meat: If you’re a gourmet of the garden griddle at home or fancy yourself the next Jamie Oliver, be aware that toxoplasmosis can also be caught by undercooked meat. Prevention is crucial; you can play a part by washing your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
Vigilant cooking: Meals may become a bit of a lottery once the hormonal hurricane kicks in. Always ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly before eating it. Wash your vegetables and avoid pâté and soft cheese, which can carry listeria and cause miscarriages.
Take it easy on the eggs: Since you’ve just fertilised hers, any eggs she eats should be cautiously handled. Her immune system will not be running at full strength, and the risk of salmonella needs to be avoided. Boil for 7 minutes, fry both sides and store them away from other foods.
It’s best to get this sort of stuff incorporated into your routine straight away. Be sure to check for more advice plastered all over the internet to follow in the early days of pregnancy, but stick to the basics, and you will get through just fine.
Do some reading on trimesters. They are split into three stages: first, second, and third.
A very brief rundown of trimesters consists of the following:
The first trimester usually consists of tiredness, bad habits, nausea, thinking of potential names, and buying a brand-new maternity pillow.
The second trimester is usually when your partner has a new lease on life, and children are always on the topic of conversation, along with people, usually close friends, telling your partner how great her bump is looking, even though you can’t determine if there is a bump there or not. (Probably best not to tell her this).
The third trimester is when sh*t starts getting real. She has a bump now; if you still can’t see it, you must check your eyes. Belly photos will be constant. You’ve got the sign-off from work about paternity leave and bought countless items, including a car seat, which you’ve struggled for endless hours to fit into your pride and joy.
The first trimester seems like a doddle at this point, and you’re seriously considering professional help to see you through to the end, but hang in there. You’re almost at the finishing post, although it doesn’t get easier.
These are just some things to think about when you get your news. The most important thing right now is to nurture your relationship with your wife or partner. Keep each other as your priority and collaborate to stay a team. That alone can make or break those first few weeks, and those first few weeks WILL make or break the future.
Remember, we live in a different era than our fathers and, especially, grandfathers. When they became dads, they were expected not to be involved with their kids. Today, fathers pitch in as much as mothers and expectant dads do whatever it takes to care for their pregnant partners.
Do not be turned off by other people’s expectations or outdated sexist notions. Be the father YOU want to be. You can do it, and dads like me are here for you when you need help.