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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Preparing For Baby: Preparing Your Marriage...

How did you react when you found out you were pregnant?  Were you trying or was it a complete shock?  Either way I am sure we all shared the same mixed feelings of joy, fear, and excitement.  Now how about your husbands?  If they were at all like mine they were totally shocked, even when we were trying.  Most guys react with a mixture of disbelief, happiness, and pride (for some reason they just feel like the man). 

Once the initial shock wears off most women begin preparing.  We tell our close friends and the occasional grocery store cashier, we start tossing around names, and we immediately feel a maternal instinct.  We feel protective and close with that little, tiny bean way before ever hearing a heartbeat.  We want their room to be perfect and their drawers filled with little clothes.  We think about everything we eat or drink and do our best to nurture the growing baby inside.  All of this begins almost as soon as we see that positive sign.

Meanwhile, our spouses are doing none of this.  Most guys find out their wife is expecting and the first thing on their mind are finances.  Where we imagine walks in the park and storytime, they think about college tuition and wedding expenses.  It’s not that men aren’t excited about their offspring but they are built to be providers.  They want to take care of their family and this child will be the first real test of their abilities as the “man of the family.” 

When they aren’t thinking about finances, dads-to-be are probably thinking about 1 of 2 things: sports or sex.  Most guys don’t get too excited about registering or talking about what color eyes the baby might have.  Guys seem to have a hard time thinking about, much less talking about the hypothetical and that’s exactly what the baby is until he or she arrives.  I would say pregnancy doesn’t really become real to guys until the delivery room.  That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of amazing guys who will run out for ice cream and rub your feet but as far as being mentally prepared for a baby most guys are a few steps behind their wives. 

The most important thing to remember while pregnant (and maybe even shortly after) is that your husband is not trying to be insensitive or unexcited.  He will eventually catch up and realize the hugeness of this child but until then you will have to exercise extreme patience.  Cut him some slack while he contemplates your finances and allow him time to settle on this news.  Remember that even though he doesn’t want to discuss whose toes the baby will have he is just as happy and anxious for the little one’s arrival.  Prepare yourself for maybe even some unlikely behavior.  Case in point, my husband who has never been into bachelor parties or Maxim magazine decided that it would be ok to let one of his single friends take him to a strip club while I was 8 months pregnant for a “pre-baby last night out.”  Needless to say this did not happen when I was pregnant with #2.

Maybe it’s a good thing that women start mentally and emotionally preparing so early on because the men will need your strength and calmness when they enter the delivery room and finally realize that a baby is in fact on the way.  They will also need your patience after the baby is home.  Some guys are amazing and just know to pitch in with feedings and diaper changes.  Others however will not be ready to step up to the plate.  The best way to combat this is with being able to let go of control and allow them to do things their own way.  Don’t stifle his attempts by being too controlling on how things should be done.  So he doesn’t change the diaper how you do?  Or doesn’t put the baby in a matching outfit?  Who cares?!  It is one less time you have to change, diaper, or feed the baby and he needs to build his confidence in these areas. 

Becoming parents is a huge change for both of you and even if at times you feel as though your husband is another child to raise remember that he too is trying to find his footing and he will get there even though it may take him a little longer than you!

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