by Robert Garrett Rodriguez
What do the words, "I am pregnant" mean to a soon-to-be father? Men talk about their readiness for parenthood in terms of personal freedom. They are aware of the financial burdens and social restrictions that come with the role of father.
But men wonder if they are ready to give up childhood themselves, or if they want to become a permanent grownup. During this early stage of pregnancy men fear loss of freedom, loss of independence, and loss of romance with their partner.
They may picture the five- or six-year-old child they will eventually join on the ball field, but they have no direct sense of pregnancy, childbirth, or an infant as offering tangible benefits to their personal lives, even when they are actively involved in the decision to have a baby.
The main issue of the first trimester for men is discovering and accepting the pregnancy as their event. Even when they have seen the results of a home pregnancy test, men are likely to be skeptical.
Feelings of responsibility and the reality of pregnancy begin to form when they receive that authoritative statement from a doctor, "Well, Bill your wife is pregnant," or "I saw Dr. Peters today and he confirmed it, I'm going to have a baby." This is when men begin to "get" it but these announcements may also be the start of his feeling excluded. Note the doctor's statement "your wife is going to have a baby," or the wife's message, "I'm going to have a baby." Presented this way it is easy to see how dads become observers and visitors to their own world.
An important ingredient to the new dad formula for behaving during pregnancy is how he learns the news. The timing and setting for announcing this life altering event is entirely under the mom's control. How she wants the father to react to the news should be a primary concern for expectant mothers. Mom can pitch the message as a fast ball, curve ball, or ball that he sees coming and is able to catch. Mom's should make sure that their partner is at the plate and ready for the pitch.
Part of the early stage of men being uncertain about pregnancy springs from roots as deep and as primitive as biological paternity. Is this really his child? After all, there is no proof. This doubt, which can even nag men who have never before had reason to suspect their wives of infidelity, is probably based on doubts about their own masculinity. For a wife's pregnancy is the ultimate certification of a man's maleness. It is his contribution to society, and his link with immortality. With so much at stake, a man may wonder if he really could have been responsible for the almost miraculous event and its long-term consequences.
In the relationship, a first pregnancy is a time when couples evaluate a life yet unlived, both theirs and the baby's. It is a period when couples examine their most deeply held values and beliefs and assess how these might work to their advantage in the future. The relationship they had with their spouse before pregnancy is different from the relationship during pregnancy. And their relationship during pregnancy will be different again after their baby is born.
Key Message: If couples anticipate and prepare themselves for the relationship changes, they will improve their marriages and enjoy happier, more stable lives.
Robert Garrett Rodriguez holds doctorates in psychology and health care administration and masters' degrees in health risk management, public health, research, and business administration. His nationwide lectures captivate audiences with his fascinating and passionate attitude. He is a member of Mensa and has published articles in parenting magazines and online journals. Rodriguez is the author of "What's Your Pregnant Man Thinking? A Roadmap For Expectant and New Mothers," "It's a Matter of Choice," "Health Care America" and "Senior Mental Health Assessment" and "An Anxious Time for Men".
Copyright © Robert Garrett Rodriguez. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.