Dear Mr. Dad,
I'm really excited about my wife's pregnancy and started to go to the doctor's appointments with her. But the doctor basically ignores me or gives me a silly looking smile. I want to stay involved but I'm getting really angry. Is there anything else I can do?
For some expectant dads, the joys and excitement and anticipation they experience as the pregnancy progresses can be outweighed by the bitterness they feel at the way they're treated by their partner's doctors.
Sadly, most men who go to their wife's OB appointments feel just like you do: as though they're cute or novel or just annoying. And a big percentage of expectant dads complain that medical professionals -- OBs, nurses, ultrasound technicians, and support staff-tend to treat them as though they're little more than intruders or spectators and the wife is the only one worth dealing with. If they get talked to at all, it's only to discuss the ways they can support their wives. The fact that the dad-to-be might have some specific and important needs, concerns, questions, worries, or anything of his own else rarely seems to occur to anyone.
Fortunately, this isn't true of every medical professional. Some OBs will go out of their way to include the dad in the process. They make a special point of looking at him while talking about what's going on with his wife and baby, they encourage him to ask questions and they answer them thoroughly and respectfully.
But don't just sit back and expect to be welcomed into what is generally women's private domain. Make it clear as early as you can that you want to be involved-especially if you have even the slightest suspicion that you're not being taken seriously. Ask a lot of questions, behave as interested as you possibly can, and make it impossible for them to ignore you.
If you still don't get the respect and attention you deserve tell the doctor point-blank that you want to be included. You may have to do it more than once but eventually he or she will get the point.
-- "Mr. Dad"
A nationally recognized parenting expert, Armin Brott is the author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-To-Be, The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year, The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the Toddler Years, Throwaway Dads: The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be, and The Single Father: A Dad's Guide to Parenting Without a Partner (New Father Series). He has written on parenting and fatherhood for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek and dozens of other periodicals. He also hosts "Positive Parenting," a nationally distributed, weekly talk show, and lives with his family in Oakland, California.