When we started considering bringing a child to this world, my husband and I sat down and discussed our roles as parents and our outlook during the pregnancy. It was important for us to clearly define and share in how or what part in the pregnancy his role would be. We did not want his involvement to be marginal or the support he wanted to give to be seen as “nice help”. We made sure to establish to each other that the pregnancy was not a one parent’s affair but that we both were pregnant, we both needed to bond, we both carried responsibility and dedication. As the pregnancy progressed my husband started to be able to identify some phases in himself and just as I was going through my pregnancy stages, he went through some of his own. These are the five ones we took note of:
- Mentally bonding.
At the beginning of the pregnancy he started to mentalize the idea of our child, making it grow in his mind as an internalizing of expectancy and imagery of presence. We quickly discovered that his mental bonding helped him connect to our coming child long before I started to. His connection brought in turn reassurance to me as I did not start to bond with the idea of our baby until the first signs of movements of the fetus started showing.
- Emotionally carrying the baby.
I carried our child physically and the more he mentally bonded, the better he could in a sense emotionally carry the baby, so to speak “be pregnant”. The process was slowly layered through gradual understanding that his paternal role was not just about it being somehow active when conceiving, latent during the pregnancy and active again once our baby would be born. Therefore it could be said that the process was a combination of both emotional and mental cradling. He envisioned and embodied the perception of this miraculous being unfolding by reading and researching as much information as he could and following the development of the fetus.
- Integrating symptoms.
Pregnancy symptoms are not just for the mother to endure. In order for me not to feel like the symptoms was only for me to go through, he made sure he took part in my physical state as well. By making the communication open between how I was feeling and what signs I would get, he informed me on what he found that would fit my description. Involving himself in searching medical sites, reading various pregnancy articles and attending midwife appointments and listening to their advices, were a way for us to integrate the experience as our pregnancy. This not only brought him reassurance but also gave me the safety and knowledge that we could lean on each other and in turn providing our baby with less stress hormones.
As the pregnancy drew nearer its end, my husband found himself getting increasingly observant in the details surrounding the practical things needed for our child to arrive and for me to be comfortable. He kept preparing, adjusting, buying and fixing the necessary arrangements from everything to do with fixing the crib, buying baby clothes, moving all the furniture in our room to better accommodate everything for our child and me, staying and providing with all the important things I needed to stay healthy among many other things. His awareness improved our communication between each other.
My husband is a person that likes his sleep and he definitely does not tend to enjoy waking up early, unlike me. This drastically changed. He started sleeping lighter, in smaller chunks and waking up much earlier than what he usually would have done. What is more, his wakefulness felt natural and had him up and refreshed in the morning. During the day he seemed to be extra alert and attuned with what was happening with me or things that need to be done. Coupled with some amount of healthy stress and he became the “efficient dad”. In fact, the closer to the delivery date we got, the more pronounced his state of alertness got.
Although those emotions, as for instance alertness, awareness or bonding would be considered understandable given the circumstance, we had much fun finding the patterns. In short, love and caring can be expressed in many ways no matter the situation.