It's not just the female of the species that can goes a bit cuckoo...
Before my firstborn, I’d heard of ‘nesting’ – that late pregnancy period where the female goes a bit wild on the domestic front. Cleaning, cooking, and washing. Stocking up on nappies, and romper-suits. Painting wall murals in the baby’s room, and so forth.
It seems odd, but it serves a genuine purpose. It’s a primordial instinct that drives her to prepare a safe place for baby’s arrival. A space that will promote bonding and attachment. We see this in other animals too. Birds, bears, frogs… hell, even pigs.
So I wasn’t particularly surprised when my wife, deep into her third trimester, went into a complete frenzy where everything in the linen cupboard was taken out, washed, ironed, folded, and put back in again. Or when I came home to find her sitting on the kitchen floor, emptying out the tupperware cupboard and matching all the rogue containers with their lids.
What I didn’t count on was that at the same time my wife was choosing between prints and patterns, I was experiencing my own man-version of nesting. I call it ‘mesting’.
If Scotty Cam can do it…
I am the first to admit that I’m no handyman. I own a couple of tools, most of which have been gifted to me over the years out of a mixture of pity and disgust by my dad and my father-in-law. These tools had only ever seen the light of day on the rarest of occasions, for the smallest of jobs.
The moment the third trimester hit, I became the lovechild of Scott Cam and Jamie Durie. I revelled in my manliness as I installed shelves, cupboards and bench tops; hung pictures; changed washers; assembled IKEA furniture; and even built a pretty bloody impressive garden shed.
As well as getting the tools out, my ‘mesting’ period manifested itself in several other forms.
I was obsessed with buying a new car, (granted nothing odd there), but what was strange was how safety ratings and pram storage capacity took priority over how quickly it’d get from nought to one hundred.
Speaking of prams, this was another area where my ‘mesting’ instincts went into overdrive. I lost myself in online forums reading up on the pros and cons of each of the major brands.
- Three-wheelers versus four-wheelers?
- Jogging prams versus urban runabouts?
- Folding weights and capacity.
- Robustness and durability?
I was shamelessly obsessed and left no stone unturned in the quest for a perfect pram for my unborn baby, and perhaps more importantly, me.
It’s a guy thing
I’ve since spoken to other dads about ‘mesting’. Every single on of them admits to some form of semi-manic baby preparation in the final trimester. From undertaking a full-blown kitchen renovation to building a new bedroom extension.
It’s not a new phenomenon either, as my father-in-law can testify with the lovingly hand-crafted cradle he built prior to the arrival of his first child in the late 1970s. Unfortunately, modern safety standards and my depressingly inferior carpentry skills mean assembling a flat pack is as close as I will come to something like that.
For me, this period helped me wrap my head around the arrival of our baby, and get used to the idea that my life was about to undergo a pretty significant and irreversible change. I felt like I was actually contributing something meaningful and worthwhile to the pre-baby preparation, too.
But perhaps most importantly, it proved to my father-in-law that the man who was about to have a baby with his daughter could, in fact, use a cordless drill.