Ever wonder what kind of dad your guy will be? Chances are, a great one. Here's his psychological roadmap from conception through new fatherhood.
As a Hanukkah gift two years ago, my wife gave me a small rectangular box holding two items. The first was a plastic stick with two windows, both showing blue lines. The second was a note reading, "Congratulations, Daddy, I love you." It took me a minute to grasp the meaning.
Nothing can prepare you for the unique experience of your wife's pregnancy and the first months of parenthood. So I'll let you in on a few things I learned on my own roller-coaster ride toward fatherhood.
The first 13 weeks of pregnancy start off sweetly. You and your wife will gaze lovingly at each other and smile a lot. Then, at least for many not-so-lucky souls, the nausea will kick in. This is the onset of morning sickness, a condition so named only because it sounds better than "all-day sickness." Once it starts, get used to the fact that your family meals are pretty much over. Whatever and whenever you want to eat will probably be the polar opposite of your wife's desires.
She'll also develop all kinds of food aversions. Much to the detriment of the Zacky family and Col. Sanders, my wife began to hate chicken. Since it's one of my staples, I was not allowed to eat dinner within 50 feet of her for the rest of her pregnancy.
In the second trimester, your wife's nausea should wane, but now she's getting increasingly tired, increasingly irritated by muscle pains and increasingly ... increasing. It's great when she begins to look obviously pregnant, though. For one, she'll be so damned cute (make sure you tell her this). Second, she'll finally stop complaining that people think she's simply gotten fat.
The hardest part of this trimester is the prenatal testing. Two words keep going through your mind: What if? Still, the trimester ended with our favorite test: the ultrasound. My wife and I were completely overcome, teary and silent (not easy for either of us) as we watched the baby we could now call Emily moving inside her mommy.
This is the home stretch, when your wife gets very large and spends sleepless nights trying to find a comfortable position. Of course you'll be spending those sleepless nights with her, but don't expect any excitement in bed: She'll probably have no interest in sex whatsoever.
You might not want to subject yourself to the stress of buying a new house at this time, as we did. During one trip to the hardware store I found her in tears over whether to buy the more expensive tiles. "How will we ever be able to afford Pampers?" she sniffled. I hugged her and said, "Yes, honey, I understand," which I discovered is the best response to every prenatal upset.
After the baby
After the baby arrives, your wife will still be on a wild E-ticket ride fueled by hormonal emotions. You might feel a little testy toward each other, even as you're adoring your new creation, but don't worry: Those feelings will pass, especially when you catch up on some sleep.
The fourth trimester marks a change in your family's pecking order, however. Visitors will brush you aside on their way to kiss the new mom and coo over the baby. Don't worry: Pretty soon, your child will start thinking you're the greatest—and you'll find there's nothing better than being Dad.