50 Things Every Guy Should Know About Pregnancy And Parenthood

Two fathers share the nitty-gritty.

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1. From the very moment she announces her pregnancy, she'll be the center of attention — not you. Get used to it.

2. When the baby comes, they'll both be the center of attention — not you. Aren't you glad you had nine months to practice going unnoticed?

3. Your house is too small, it was always too small, and to suggest otherwise simply proves that your brain is too small.

4. Are you about to make your mom and dad grandparents for the first time? Get ready for some ambivalence. There's no such thing as a young grandparent; give them some time to deal with the shock.

5. She will want to use a birthing center. She will want a midwife. She will want a doctor. She will not want an epidural. She will scream for an epidural. Cesareans will sound great; they will sound awful. Agree with her always.

6. Lamaze is to childbirth what yoga is to football. Sort of. Just do it.

7. Her sense of smell will be so acute, you'll be tempted to airlift her to join a search-and-rescue team.

8. You're not really the coach. They'll tell you that you are, but there will come a time when it's time to shut your mouth and let her finish out the last two minutes of the game. Then you'll step in and cut the net.

9. You will be short on cash. You will not buy clothes for yourself for a year. You will consider canceling cable. You will never own a flat-screen TV. But there will always be money for a crib, three car seats, two strollers and more plastic things in Day-Glo colors than you can throw a rattle at.

10. Buy new tires now.

11. During the first week home from the hospital, you will learn to love lasagna.

12. Yes, you're holding the baby wrong. Do it her way.

13. By the time you change your third diaper, it will seem like the most normal thing in the world.

14. You won't faint. No one does.

15. Be careful about the word we. For instance, never say, "We didn't mind amniocentesis at all."

16. There will come a day when you'll be your child's hero. Enjoy it — it won't last.

17. Contractions are funny things (not ha-ha funny, either). Chances are they won't match the chart you get at Lamaze. When she says it's time to call the doctor and go to the hospital, it's time to call the doctor and go to the hospital.

18. When your mother pulls you aside and tells you that breastfeeding will ruin her breasts, that babies only need to eat every four hours and that if you pick him up every time he cries he'll never be independent enough to go to summer camp, don't believe her.

19. During the second week home from the hospital, you will learn to love lasagna.

20. You'll be surprised and amazed how well you can function on so little sleep.

21. Your child will like her best for a long time. You'll get your turn — it just comes much later.

22. Tell everybody about the birth. It's one of the few times people will be genuinely happy about your good fortune.

23. No one knows why babies use so many clothes, especially since they don't get out much. It's one of life's little mysteries.

24. It's perfectly normal to stare at a sleeping baby for two hours. It's even normal to videotape a sleeping baby for two hours.

25. Whatever bad phase your kid is going through, you'll find a solution. However, by the time you do that, he or she will be on to a new, even more confusing phase.

26. Things you thought would make you sick but won't: baby poop, baby pee, baby puke — and having all of them on your shirt.

27. During the third month home — yep. Lasagna.

28. Pregnant sex is a wonderful thing.

29. While we're on the subject of sex, it's called "making love" and will be for at least a year.

30. Take a flask to the hospital.

31. She'll have the appetite of a truck driver—and for good reason: she's feeding your child! Save the commentary.

32. Try not to talk incessantly about your baby at work. There'll be plenty of time for that when you get home.

33. If she wants drugs during childbirth, go get the doctor. Don't ask, "Are you sure?"

34. The delivery room is the only place where screaming and pushing can actually strengthen your relationship.

35. Sometime after the birth, you and your wife will go on a "date." Midway through, you both will start missing the baby.

36. You'll get more advice from your childless friends. Parents will usually shrug and say, "It'll pass."

37. Now you know why your friends with newborns never let you visit, except to bring food.

38. A nanny is not a lactation consultant is not a day nurse is not a midwife is not a La Leche League leader is not a gynecologist is not a pediatrician. Learn the taxonomy.

39. After a slew of family visits, you will learn to appreciate "Everybody Loves Raymond."

40. You don't really have to be in the delivery room.

41. You won't be able to trade in the less useful gifts for takeout.

42. Breast milk is to your baby like the yellow sun is to Superman. Lay off the bottles in the fridge.

43. A gym membership is not a push present. Save it for yourself.

44. She is Sybil. You must be Leo Buscaglia, Tony Robbins, Billy Graham and Phil Jackson all rolled into one. Hormones can make her feel like she has multiple personalities. Get to know each one, and roll with it. This is temporary.

45. It's great to be pregnant — for the first two weeks. After amnio, genetic testing and lectures on breech births, you'll be filled with a mix of anxiety and elation for the rest of your life. Give your parents a hug.

46. Now you know why all those dads at the mall walk around in those doofy cotton sweats.

47. The Baby Bjí¶rn, My Brest Friend, Boppy. None of them comes in basic black.

48. Within six months, you'll resume some semblance of a sex life.

49. Your baby will like Gerber's better than anything you make from scratch.

50. Of course it changes everything. That's the whole point, isn't it?

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