By Jon Helmkamp
Congratulations big guy, you’re going to be a dad! The journey to fatherhood is one riddled with emotional turmoil, new challenges, an increase in responsibilities, and unchartered waters that you have never even come close to navigating. But guess what? It’s all worth it, and is truly one of the most incredible times of your life.
Now that you’re going to be a dad, here’s what to do now:
I know man, it’s a serious amount of emotions. Your partner just shared the big news with you, and you’re probably experiencing a pretty intense level of shock combined with a gigantic tidal wave of emotions unparalleled to anything you’ve experienced. Take a deep breath, calm down, and know that this is something that you and your partner are going to get through with flying colors.
Before you do anything else, and before you let your mind take off like a runaway train, take a moment to simply acknowledge how astounding this moment is. You’re going to be a father, and you and your partner now share something that will bring you closer than just about anything else can. Revel in that moment! It’s an incredible time, and celebrate with your partner. But remember, lay off the bubbly – no more alcohol for the mama to be.
When to announce the news
Now that you’ve had a second to let it all sink in, you and your partner need to discuss when and how the best time to share your news will be. For the love of all that is good, PLEASE don’t go blasting it on Facebook before you’ve checked with your partner. Keep in mind, it’s going to be different for everyone – some people like to wait until after the 12 week mark when the risk of miscarriage becomes significantly less, and others just can’t wait to shout it from a mountain top. The two of you are going to need to figure out what works for you. Personally, my wife and I waited until our 8 week check up before announcing it publicly.
Take some time to ponder
Listen up man, life is going to be changing in a BIG way, and starting very soon. Get all those “What the hell am I doing” thoughts out of your head and learn to trust yourself – your partner is going to need strength from you. Do what you have to do to get right in your own mind about it, whether that’s taking a guys day with your best friend to talk it out or meditating on it, do whatever you have to do to mentally and emotionally prepare for the changes that are coming your way. Because trust me, changes are coming quick.
I’m going to tell you right now, you don’t have any clue what you’re getting into. That’s just a fact, and it’s completely normal. For instance, did you know that pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat any cured meats? Yeah, me neither. But apparently they aren’t. Mood swings and food cravings (and aversions to foods and smells as well) are going to be coming at you fast, so buck up and make those midnight runs to the convenient store when the only thing that sounds good to her is ice cream and pickles. Oh, and if it all of a sudden sounds revolting to her when you get home, don’t be frustrated. It happens. Sometimes a lot. A great resource to track your baby’s growth and what your partner is going through is www.whattoexpect.com. Make sure you do your research on pregnancy symptoms and dietary restrictions – it’s a great way to show your partner that you are engaged and wanting to know what she and your baby are going through, as well as a good idea just for your own sanity. (Understanding is half the battle, right?)
Personally, I feel like it is absolutely crucial to let your mind wander and to day dream about your little peanut. Not only is it okay to think about who your child will be or what they will look like, it’s healthy. Those day dreams will help you emotionally prepare, and will give you and your partner something great to bond over.
Validate your partner
You think you’re going through changes? Haha! You’re funny. Your partner is going through exponentially more. Weight gain, swelling, hormones, more hormones, and more than likely, some serious self-image issues. It's quite common for her to feel incredibly unattractive. Let me give you just a little tip… patience. Patience. One more time – PATIENCE. Hormones are going to make your lovely partner not so lovely at times. Her temper will have a shorter fuse, her emotions will swing at the tip of a hat, and quite frankly, you just have to ride it out. Understand that it isn’t her fault, bite your lip, tell her you love her and get her a bowl of ice cream. Ice cream is always a good answer.
Take on responsibilities, your partner will need it
My wife is an incredible, hard-working, “A” personality woman that loves to take care of things herself, but even she isn’t capable of handling all the things she once did. One of those stellar pregnancy symptoms is a general sense of being ridiculously tired all the time; making a baby is some seriously hard work. So, dad, pick up the slack. Do the laundry, do the dishes, and take care of the grocery shopping. Help her however you can.
These 9 months are awesome, exciting, terrifying, and simply one of the coolest times of your life. I know it can seem daunting, but you’ll get through it. Just take a breath, gain your composure, and take it one day at a time.
Jon Helmkamp is 23 years old, a lover of sports, the outdoors and the arts. He is expecting his first child in July with his wife, and has taken to documenting his journey to fatherhood and sharing what he learns and experiences on his blog, www.findingfatherhoodjcw.wordpress.com.