I feel like the books are typically aimed at women, where everything is “magical” or “glowing”. Having watched Lorraine go through pregnancy and childbirth, I can tell you the woman’s side of things is anything but. The prospective dad’s role is generally to quietly support from the background in most of these books, which is important, but I’ve compiled some steps here on what that actually means, and how it works from a bloke’s perspective.
Making the baby:
No condoms. Fuck. Yes. Enjoy this as much as you can and hope it takes a little while. I guarantee that the first thing you’ll feel when she tells you she’s pregnant is a sense of bemused relief and unjustified pride that your balls work. Don’t tell her this or she’ll be a bit miffed. The reality doesn’t set in for a while later for us, but they get dead excited.
This bit is a piece of piss. Your missus swells up like a balloon and is too fucked to go anywhere. Score. All you need to do is continually “surprise” her with bags of crisps and other snacks and you can guilt-free decline any social event you want to avoid to do your own thing. “She’s really nauseated/achy/tired” will get you out of all of that shit and you’ll look like the caring partner. Now grab her a family sized bag of hoola hoops/dip and sit her down in front of Sex & the City and bugger off upstairs to play video games while she goes through rainbows of emotion just from watching a charity commercial.
She’ll want to buy everything. Your job is to make sure she doesn’t bankrupt you before the kid arrives because the expensive bit hasn’t even started yet. Pro tip: babies grow like weeds so there are people desperate to shift the mountains of clothes and other paraphernalia for next to nothing. Ask your friends for their hand me downs. Seriously, you’ll be trying to offload it yourself in 2 months.
This is one of those magical moments the books talk about, and the movies depict it as a mad rush to hospital and then the baby pops out. The reality is hours/days of boredom followed by the most incredible moment of your life. Nothing will prepare you for the feeling of holding your child for the first time, but you can prepare for the boring bit that comes first. We were in hospital for 6 days. Bring books, plural, snacks, drinks, phone chargers etc. Your missus will, being the organised one (don’t deny it), generally sort the baby bag. We forgot the formula (yeah, if you’re breast feeding, bring formula anyway because it turns out babies don’t know how to breast feed and sometimes breasts don’t either). She’ll be pretty fucked by now so you get the fun bit of playing with the baby and then buggering off home for the last proper sleep you’ll ever have. “Oh nooooooo, I can’t stay in the ward with you and the other women? I’ll come straight back in the morning to see how you coped with keeping a fragile baby alive with no experience or training all on your own while surrounded by crying babies and women”. I didn’t envy her that, but god it was a good sleep. Oh yeah, man up and clean some shitty nappies.
Building your first human:
Research shows that women tend to have a more caring relationship with their children, and dads tend to adopt a more playful role, regardless of who is the stay at home and who goes off to work. You know why? Because kids are fucking hilarious, and their sense of humour is going to be just as weird and silly as yours. My daughter cracks me up, and she has this wry smile that I just love. She’s just learned how to tickle on command so now we sneak up on Lorraine and tickle her together. All you have to do as a dad is play with them. Put your phone away, stop trying to get shit done when they’re awake because you can’t. Not once they’re mobile anyway. Easy mode stops around 8 months when the whole sleeping all day thing stops. So stop trying. Read them loads of books, make silly animal noises and try to stop them from killing themselves (which they will try with incredible tenacity to do, laughing insanely the whole time).
None of that sounds particularly hard does it? Sex without condoms, human snack machine, bit of boredom, playing with a hilarious little person who you will love so fiercely it hurts.
Okay, maybe it’s not quite that simple. Maybe you have to worry, to reassure someone going through changes you can’t even comprehend, be the pillar they lean on when you don’t even know what the future holds yourself, face incredible responsibility while being physically exhausted. Maybe you have to endure literally months of sleepless nights and financial struggle. You will. But let me tell you this: it is worth it. The Buddhists say that life is suffering. That sounds pretty shit on the face of it, but when a finite being like you or I is placed in the infinite bounds of reality, it’s inevitable. You’re only born so tall, live so long, look only so attractive, have only so much genetic resistance to disease, etc and you can’t change that. Everyone suffers, but not everyone gets something worth suffering for. Something so fucking special that you forget about all of that and smile. Well that’s my daughter. Everything I do is for her, and I’d walk through fire for her without hesitation. So yeah, it’s not easy, but it’s the most worthwhile thing you’ll ever do… and at least it’s not you that has to push a human out of one of their orifices.