A group of men — some of them expecting fathers, some dads already — got together recently over pizza and beer to talk about what it’s really like to be a parent. Once we edited out all the Monty Python jokes and references to that cute chick on Survivor: The Australian Outback, what was left were honest admissions, valuable advice and true tenderness. That, and a couple of veggie slices, which one dad-to-be took home for his pizza-craving wife.
Billy 37, sound editor for television and film; wife is six months pregnant with first child.
Kevin F. 29, dot-com refugee; has one son, 4 months old.
Kevin D. 45, programmer; wife is eight months pregnant with first child.
Don 47, engineer; 2-year-old son; wife is seven months pregnant.
Keith 35, boat captain; has three sons, ages 6, 5, and 20 months.
Fit Pregnancy: When you found out you were going to become a father, what was the first thing that went through your head?
Billy: We weren’t trying, but we weren’t not trying. My wife came out of the bathroom with this terrified look on her face, extremely upset, and that’s when she told me. I said, “That’s great! Cool!” But she thought she’d ruined all our plans—we had these financial goals that we wanted to reach before a baby came. But I was like, “Hey, we didn’t get up there and say all those vows for nothing.”
Don: We were trying for a second baby, and she did the same thing—came out of the bathroom and said, “Come check this out,” and there’s the little green line on the test. We were really happy, but we were much calmer the second time around. The first time, we were probably panic-stricken in terms of not knowing exactly what to do. Right after we found out, we ran out to the bookstore and bought about $100 worth of pregnancy books.
Keith: We took the test—she actually made me go buy it—and it was stressful. We weren’t married at the time, and we didn’t know what to expect. But we were happy about it.
Kevin D.: My wife had had a miscarriage before, and she was pretty sure she was pregnant—it was the first time since losing the baby that we’d tried. But the test said no. We were disappointed for about a week—until she took another pregnancy test and it came out positive. But it really didn’t become real for me until we saw the first ultrasound. I was so surprised to see the baby moving around so much ... I guess I’d thought that they mostly just sleep in there. But he was just sort of spinning around, and it was amazing.
Kevin F.: In the movies, you get the test results and there’s this lightning bolt, but for me it was more surreal. Women can feel these things going on with their bodies, but for a guy, no matter how close you are as a couple, no matter how much you’ve planned it, the baby isn’t growing inside your body or making you tired or nauseated.