The moment you announce that you’re pregnant as a couple, it starts rolling in: banal platitudes–honked at you from friends and work colleagues and random strangers. Their intended effect is either to FREAK YOU OUT or make the person honking them appear sage and well-versed in the art of living.
It’s the parental equivalent of the way Australians troll foreigners, “Haw, haw, haw, almost everything in this country can kill you. You’ve gotta watch out, mate. Seriously, it’s not that bad, though, hey.”
Much of the parental counsel you’ll receive while you wait for D-Day is equally pointless.
The worst part is, you find yourself indulging these people with the response they want; a look of terror, a nervous laugh. You might wince and blurt out something like, “Oh I know, I’m really in for it. Bye-bye life!”
Towards the end of my wife’s pregnancy I got jack of the whole thing and gradually honed my replies until I was much more satisfied with them–designed to cause mild offence and basically shut the other person up.
Here are four things I guarantee you will hear over the duration of your partner’s pregnancy, and my workshopped response to each.
“Your life is about to change so much.”
This one plays on your biggest fear as fatherhood approaches–that the glory days are over and life will never be the same again. I mean, it’s kind of true about everything getting turned upside down, but in the end, what’s wrong with that?
Some of the wisest words I received were, “Say goodbye to everything you enjoy, and hello to lots of things you never thought you would enjoy, but will.”
This turned out to be true. My daughter is six months old now and I’ve had approximately 20 minutes of Xbox time since her birth. But I also have an interested little companion when I get up at 4:30am to watch European soccer, and I’m entertained every hour of the day by her loopy antics.
So yeah, post-Xbox life is just fine.
“Excellent! I love change. Change is exciting. Life would be so tedious if we just carried on doing the same things for ever and ever, would it not?”
“You have no idea what is about to hit you.”
The baby? Is the baby going to hit me? I can’t imagine it could do much damage. In fact, I’d say it will be another 13 or 14 years before its blows could even hurt me in the slightest.
This is in a similar vein to the previous bit of ‘advice’. It’s basically people telling you that instead of feeling nervous excitement, you should have a sense of impending doom. And again, there is an element of truth to it.
Despite everything you read, nothing can truly prepare you for what you’re about to experience. And again, in no way does that have to be a bad thing.
“Looking forward to it. I like to roll with the punches like Rocky Marciano.”
“Better catch up with your sleep now, because you’re never sleeping again.”
Firstly, this doesn’t even make sense scientifically. You can’t store up sleep to use later, your body is basically only affected by your sleep patterns of the last 48 hours.
Now that’s out of the way.
You could be the basest male on the planet, who has never read a baby advice book, or met anyone with a baby or seen babies on TV … and you would still be perfectly aware that new parents don’t get much sleep.
It’s the longest-running cliché about having a baby in existence, which can be traced back to prehistoric man painting pictures on cave walls of momma and poppa cavemen (cavepeople?) getting up in the middle of the night to attend to a crying cavebaby. There are even jokes about it in the Bible! Probably.
The point is everyone is aware that having a baby means you won’t be sleeping through the night for a while. There is zero need to inform expectant parents to the fact.
“Why had nobody told me this before? I must begin my sleep deprivation training at once!”
“You’re never going to have sex again.”
Funny how once you become an expectant parent it’s OK for randoms to start speculating about your sex life. The prospect of no sex for a period of time is a pretty scary one, it’s true. But in the same way you don’t really miss your extended Xbox sessions, a low-key sex life won’t leave as big a hole in your life as you’d think. Not that I’m comparing Xbox to sex … hang on, yeah that’s pretty much what I’m doing.
Anyway, once you get past the first eight weeks or so, you’ll be able to get back into the swing of things again, even if it’s at different times of the day and different parts of the house than before, as you learn to work around the baby’s sleep patterns.
“Thanks for taking an interest, but you don’t need to worry. We plan to have plenty more kids so we’ll continue to have sex all the time out of necessity. Actually, we’ve already started trying for another.” (*wink)