Yes, I’m pregnant. And it’s been that way for approximately the last 34 weeks. If you’re following me on Twitter, you’re probably as sick as I am of my pregnancy-related tweets, marvels upon the process, and general observations about how damned freaky this all is and how is it that I don’t remember all this pain and suffering from the first time!?
Ahem. But in my defense, being pregnant messes with your head in a big way, and even though you desperately want to start thinking about other things, it’s immensely difficult. I mean, we’re just wired that way. It’s science. No, really.
Since it’s not every day that a GeekDad couple is expecting, I thought I’d share five tips (mostly inspired by my very awesome husband, Michael Harrison) that might help other geeky couples through the tough times. Because it’s not just about the baby and what comes afterward. Leading up to it is a whole, crazy journey that you might never forget, but she certainly will.
Above all else: be patient. Love her. Listen to her (even if you’ve heard the same lecture about cloth diapers or heirloom tomatoes for the third time in the same day). That’s the best place to start.
1) Hook your lady up with some science. If she’s like me, she’ll be obsessing over the changes in her body (and of the fetus) every week and be sorely disappointed by the vapid, badly written crap out there on the internet. Really, it’s written for the least common denominator and seems to spend more time comparing the fetus to the size of various fruits and vegetables rather than explaining the actual science behind one of the most amazing things in the world. Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies by Jena Pincott is a great place to start. Granted, it’s on the pop science side, but it’s chock full of stuff most blogs and books don’t touch. It also helps to actually explain the astonishing and sometimes freaky goings on during pregnancy. Don’t believe me? Check out Jena Pincott’s recent BoingBoing post (where I found out about this book in the first place) about how DNA from our kids sticks around our bodies forever.
+10: Read the book with her. Or at least ask her about it! Pregnancy can feel really lonely, and you’re the closet one to the situation. Reading this was a whole new experience for me — as a second time mom, I didn’t think there was much left to learn. Turns out I was way off. Which is not to mention how much you might learn, too.
2) Roll for initiative and follow through. This can happen in a variety of ways. Say she mentions she’d love to catch Battlestar Galactica again, or she’s really excited about an upcoming show, or that she’d like to attend birth classes on Wednesday night but hasn’t signed up yet. Chances are, she’ll be forgetful. And if you keep your eyes extra open during these nine months, I assure you you’ll see plenty of hints fall your way. If you have to keep a notebook to keep track, do it. The little things really do add up, and if she feels like you’re listening and (in my case anyway) making up for that half of a brain that pregnancy hormones seems to have made away with, you’ll be her hero.
+10: Save up some of the really good hints (cuisine, a movie, and a walk, perhaps?) and make a date out of it.
3) Spring for some geeky maternity t-shirts. Yes, they exist. One of the most frustrating side effects of pregnancy for a geeky lady may be the fact that her most comfortable t-shirts are too small, or just too odd to wear (“You Never Forget Your First Doctor,” eh? Try explaining that one…). Thankfully, forward thinking folks like ThinkGeek realize that not all of us wish to be sartorial nightmares during our pregnancies and actually want to continue looking like geeky gals (though, as of this writing, only one of their two shirts are available… come on, folks, more geeky shirts for the pregnant ladies!). If you can’t find something that works for you, there’s always iron-ons. If you’re afraid of what size to order, just do the easy thing: check out her current clothes and look on the label. See? Not that hard. And with the magic of the internet you don’t even have to step foot in a store. (If t-shirts aren’t her thing, there’s always music for your fetus — no, seriously.)
+10: Go with some geeky jewelry, too. That way she can wear it after the baby’s born and not have to worry about, y’know, sizing.
4) Learn about pregnancy without her asking you to. I love my husband, but this is definitely not inspired by him. Granted, he’s been busy working on a finding a job after a layoff, so he’s got his excuses. But if he’s got time to play Mass Effect 3, he’s got time to read a book. Sure, there are definitely fewer to choose from that are written from an explicitly paternal angle, and many take the low road, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. One book Michael purchased after our son was born was The Baby Owner’s Manual, which is definitely cute but not exactly high on scientific matters. There’s also Making Babies: The Science of Pregnancy, which I haven’t yet read but looks to be a good approach if you want to know what in the heck is going on. Also don’t hesitate to do your own nesting. Tackle that messy garage. Get some Super Mario Bros. decals for the nursery. Buy a gadget that you think will be perfect or download an app!
+10: Talk to her about it. Ask her what she thinks of the science behind her pregnancy, or tell her what you’re feeling as a dad. Yes, this might seem a little sappy. But you’re not Darth Vader, yeah? Whether you’re reading articles online or ensconced in your Kindle, the intent is there. She’ll be thrilled that you’re making your own strides toward understanding the whole experience and preparing and nesting in your own way.
5) Help her remember she’s not just a gestation chamber. I don’t call her Little Baby Cthulhu for nothing. I am not one of those women who love being pregnant. I was once told by someone she “would be pregnant every day” if she could, which still boggles my mind to this day. But even though I’m not exactly having the ride of my life, my biology is constantly reminding me that I am my little girl’s life support. She kicks and turns and hiccups; I throw up and turn my nose and feel worn out. I get hungry at stupid times, and can’t stand the food that I used to love. I can’t even get into writing fiction to save my life. But something that I love doing is going down memory lane with my husband, looking through our dating scrapbook (which ends after our honeymoon) and thinking of what we’ve been, together, before we got here. Reiterating who we were before our kids came into the world does a whole lot of good for self-esteem and mood, even on days when I cry over everything from Folgers commercials to mismatched socks. This year marks the 12th year that we’ve known each other, and I can honestly say I can’t imagine who I’d be without him. And I couldn’t get through another pregnancy without that support. The fact that I look like a hobbit right now sort of pales in comparison to all that (bare feet and all…)
+10: Make her feel beautiful, too. Even if she rolls her eyes at you. Compliment her hair, her skin, her smile. Maybe get her a special gift that has absolutely nothing to do with childbearing; take her to a concert; revel in the time left where your life will become complicated, or more complicated than it’s ever been. Knowing you see her beneath the beach ball belly, and will be there for her on the other side no matter what, is pretty damned magical.
How about you geeky dads out there? Did you do anything especially geeky for your mate while she was pregnant?