Communication and Pregnancy Fear n. - a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
That about sums up the state of mind that impending parenthood causes. Rationalizing between what is logical versus what is imagined can happen at any given point of time during pregnancy, not just for the mom, but for the dad, too. Some moms may obsess about the baby growing inside them being born with webbed feet and a beak instead of a nose (hey, don't laugh!), while dad's may obsess about the care of a newborn. How do I burp a baby? What if I drop him? What if I lose my job and can't afford to care for her anymore?
She says: I don't think it's possible to go through a pregnancy without the fear of something associated with a new baby coming into the world. The key is to not let fear consume you. You will fear something. You may fear many some things. Realizing that you're normal for having fears is important. Don't be embarrassed to talk to your OB/GYN about worries or fears (and dads this advice is for you, too).
There really isn't anything they haven't heard before and even if they haven't heard it before and secretly think you're a whack-a-do for asking something weird or bizarre, they aren't going to make fun of you for asking. They'll just snicker in their head instead. Dads, communicate your fears and it won't affect your macho persona. Fears during pregnancy are normal. Everyone fears something and for anyone that has been through pregnancy and childbirth, they can attest to especially being fearful of childbirth. The best advice I can give a dad that fears childbirth is this - the birth is going to happen. Be prepared the best you can. Read as many pregnancy and childbirth books and websites to help ease your fears.
He says: Just chiming in, it helped me to remember that women have been surviving childbirth for millions of years now. Today with modern techniques and drugs, childbirth may still be far from painless, but it is a generally quite safe.
She says: Yes, it is far from painless. It hurts. It feels like someone is ripping your body apart from the inside. Anyway, we'll address that at a later time.
Remember knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have about the things we fear, the better equipped we become to handle those fears when we are faced with them.
He says: Here's the thing, I've faced 90 MPH fastballs. I've had somebody pull a gun on me. I delivered a baby when I was an EMT. Yet I've never ever been as scared as the moment it sunk it in that I was going to be responsible for a very tiny, very helpless human being. Once the initial joy of passing my DNA on to another generation subsided, my worries started to kick in.
First, was my fear of being inadequate. Quite frankly I was scared I wouldn't be able to handle the responsibility. My mind shouted, "Oh my, oh my, oh my. I'm going to be responsible for a freaking baby! Heck, I've just barely learned to take care of myself now there is going to be this little tiny human depending on me for everything!" I was naïve but not that naïve. I realized this baby was going to take a lot of work. He would have to be fed, washed, fed again, changed, fed, changed again, burped and so on and so on. I wasn't sure I could handle all these new tasks. To complicate these matters now we were going to need more money yet we'd be more tired and have less time for work. It was a classic Catch 22. We had a baby so we needed more money, but we had a baby so we didn't have the time or energy to work more.
Related: What About the Postpartum Fathers?
She says: I'm still impressed by the parents that have a dozen or so kids. How do they do it?
He says: Second, was a fear I now call my selfish fear. My fear of changing a good thing. My wife and I could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We were having a blast. We would take long walks, play softball, play volleyball, go to Judo, go dancing, go out to dinner. You get the picture we were spoiled. I was afraid with a baby coming we would never be able to do anything together just the two of us again.
Third and this is what I now refer to as my stupid fear, I was afraid of being ignored by my wife. I remembered a few years back when our friends had just had a baby. We ran into the happy new dad who said, "I've lost her. All she sees is that baby." My wife was (and still is my best friend) I was afraid I was about to lose that friend.
She says: It's important to communicate a fear like this with your spouse, instead of bottling your feelings up and then resenting your wife when the baby comes. A new baby is a lot of work. Remember that when the baby comes, your wife just lugged a human being inside her for nine months. Cut her some slack if she seems to dote on the new baby so much at first. Her reward is the pleasure she gets from coddling the newborn.
Despite what you may think, your wife will not overlook or forget you. Men with narcissistic personalities tend to have the biggest issue with this, although the jealousy towards the new baby tends to rear its head for many men regardless of having narcissistic personalities. Chillax. Don't pout. The best way you can work through the feelings of being neglected? Jump right in and help with everything. Help with laundry. Help with changing diapers. Help with cooking meals.
Just stay present in the situation and realize you are just as important to your wife when the new baby comes, as you were when it was just the two of you. The roles for the both of you will be different because you now have a different dynamic (that'd be a new baby), but the importance and need for you are still there, even if you feel like you are competing with a little, wiggly person now.
He says: The good news is I was with time able to conquer or at least lessen my fears. The money part was easy, my wife and I followed one simple rule. We have a baby, we don't purchase anything (besides a house and car) that we can't pay for with CASH. My fears of not being able to handle the tasks associated with being a new dad, were eased with practice. I made a bit of a game out of doing my baby chores.
For instance, I would time myself and try to improve my time each diaper change. (Yes, it's a bit lame I know but it worked for me.) I went from taking about 30 minutes to change a diaper to around 30 seconds, with one hand. Quite simply we get better with practice. Ladies, if your men get frustrated just assure them like everything else they will improve the more they do it.
Related: What to Do When You're NOT Expecting
As for my selfish and stupid fears, I learned that different doesn't mean bad. No sugar coating it, having a baby is HARD and life changing. The first few weeks especially are quite trying. And yes for those few weeks my wife was very babycentric, but turns out so was I. Here's the kicker, once you find your "new normal", it's life changing in a cool exciting sort of way. Men, the first time your baby smiles at you with that look of, "yes I know this guy, he's a little slow, but he is pretty cool." You will realize all these changes are worth it. You haven't lost a wife but you've gained a little human being who is going to love you no matter what you do. (At least until they become a teen and conclude you are the dumbest being alive, but that's another story.)
So ladies, even if we guys seem macho and fearless on the outside, chances are on the inside we way scared about the upcoming changing. We just may have trouble showing or admitting to it. Just be patient with us and we will come around.
In conclusion, fears are a normal part of the pregnancy and parenting process that everyone goes through. As outlandish as some fears are, millions of others have probably had a similar worry or fear during pregnancy, too. Communicate your fears with your partner and even your baby doctor. Knowing you aren't worrying alone is sometimes enough piece of mind to ease your fear (and move on to another one!).
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