Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Father's Guide To The First Trimester

or All Hope Abandon Ye Who Enter Here

Nobody tells you about the first trimester of a pregnancy until it's too late.  The constant nausea, the mood swings, and the exhaustion is almost too much for one person to bear, plus she might be experiencing some discomfort as well.  Navigating the first trimester leaves many fathers feeling like a blind whitewater kayaker barreling down a shark-infested underground river in a leaky bucket with a ping-pong paddle to steer.  But it's your lucky day there, Sport.  I've been through it before and I just might be able to steer you clear of the pointier rocks in your path.

Her mood is changing all the time.  She used to just roll her eyes and scoff at your idiocy but now she realizes that the tiny life inside her is probably going to take after you to some degree.  I'm not going to say that's the only reason she's crying at the drop of a hat, but I'll bet it's right up there with sad songs, movies, and the more poignant cat food commercials.  Just be ready with a hand on her shoulder or a hug when her mood lifts enough that she can bear your touch.  She might act upset with you, she might even think she is upset with you, but these feelings will change.  If you can power through all of this without snapping back you will have built up enough good husband credits to cover at least one trip to Vegas with the boys and a handful of fantasy sports teams.

One of the causes of her bad mood, other than you of course, could be the phenomenon that in our household we refer to as "preggo brain".  This is when your normally responsible lady becomes as forgetful and bubble-headed as a wacky sitcom aunt.  It is during this stage where you make sure never to hand her anything important, like the remote or your car keys, because she will set it down in some place that only she knows exists, such as where new toilet paper rolls come from.  Then she will forget ever having held whatever object she has now lost for all eternity.  Perhaps she is getting it all out of her system.  That way nine months later you can hand her the baby with a reasonable confidence that it will not be misplaced.

Another effect of preggo brain is that her mouth becomes further disconnected from her brain.  You might think that this is no big deal, until you ask her opinion.  Allow me to give you a scenario:  You ask your wife if you should wear a specific red shirt and she answers "yes".  You put on said red shirt and when she sees you she sweetly reminds you that the shirt you are wearing makes you look like a pustulant sore on a rat.  The problem here is that you listened to what she said and not what she meant.  Single word answers don't count anymore.  What you should have done is ask her again, then double check to make sure.  This will annoy her to near-homicidal levels, but it is the only way to make sure you do what she wants.  There is no winning this scenario.  Either you do the wrong thing or you piss her off in finding the right thing to do.  Sorry.

Then there is the misnamed "morning sickness".  Perchance it was named thus due to the fact that it occurs only between 8:00 AM and 7:59 AM.  Who knows?  This is how her body drops the gauntlet and prepares to launch a nine-month campaign against her. Arm yourself with lemonade and soda crackers, and always be on the lookout.  Those times when the nausea subsides she is going to be ravenous.  Bratwurst at 10 PM not the norm in your household?  Just you wait.  It is no small feat to pack an entire day's caloric intake into the 10 minutes she feels well enough to eat.  Have something ready to go.  But whatever you do, always keep your nausea barometer on high alert, for the next few months "What would you like for dinner?" will become a loaded question.

The nine-month campaign I mentioned doesn't begin and end with her stomach either.  This lady was already a churning cauldron of emotions and you went and threw a double handful of hormonal pop rocks into the mix when you knocked her up.  No matter what foul thing her body puts her (and you) through as part of this pregnancy you must remember this:  You've been just as bad and probably worse for every single day that the two of you have been together.  So suck it up and know that if you ever complain about it, even just one word, you will very likely spend the rest of your (now significantly shortened) life wishing you hadn't.

Remember to keep telling yourself that it's O.K. and everything happening is only temporary.  On the other hand, you need to know that, in order to feel better, she is constantly reminding herself that this is all your fault.  And it is.  But it's okay, because the blame she puts on you right now becomes the credit you can take for her happiness when she finally gets to hold your new baby.

The first trimester isn't easy on anybody.  Just keep reminding yourself that millions of fathers the world over are going through the same thing right now.  And many of them go on to impregnate their wives again of their own free will.

You'll have to excuse me.  I have just been asked to prepare crepes with ricotta filling and fresh fruit, a thick slice of ham, and tater-tot casserole.  Which brings me to the second trimester...


  1. That is a great post. And I do believe the "Abandon Hope . . ." intro is technically genius.

  2. I love this. I think it's great seeing things from a father's prespective. The lemonade I was addicted to with my second, Caleb. Now, if I even look at the stuff I cringe!