Deconstructing Dad

by Bryan Friedman in Daddy's Corner

I can hardly believe it’s been almost nine months since we took the positive pregnancy test and more than six months since I set up this baby blog. We’ve seen all kinds of fruit on the way, going from a poppy seed to a watermelon! I’ll tell you one thing, I definitely have a renewed respect for the female of the species. A woman’s body sure can do some incredible things — not to mention the woman herself being able to handle them too.

We’re in the “home stretch” now as we’ve moved past the 36-week full-term requirement. I know it’s not over yet, not until our daughter decides she’s ready to see the outside world. But we’re to the point where she could come any day if she wants to, and trust me, we’re ready for her. And even though we might have as many as three or four weeks to go (oh please let her come well before that!), these last weeks are really making me reflect on what a great ride this pregnancy has been. (I know, the real ride is just about to start.) Anyway, I knew how great Alison was when I married her, but there’s nothing like watching your wife go through the experience of being pregnant to remind you how amazing she is. I love her so much and I’m just so thrilled and ecstatic to get to partner with her in parenting. After all, she’s making one of my longtime dreams come true — I’m so close to being a dad!


Of course now that we’re closer than ever to getting off the pregnancy train and onto the parenting roller coaster, the concept of fatherhood has never more real to me. Thinking back to just how clueless I was when this all started, I’ve come a long way. Of course, I still feel pretty clueless. I’m guessing that no amount of labor and delivery, breastfeeding, or baby care classes can really “prepare” me for what’s about to come, but hey, they can’t hurt.

You may remember how much I raved about The Expectant Father, the book I’ve been reading to “prepare” me for all that fatherhood brings. I’m going to share two of the most interesting passages in that book because I have to say, I’ve never felt like anybody was inside my head more than the Armin Brott, the brilliant author of this book. I guess I’ll have to buy the sequel — The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year. 😉

In The 7th Month chapter, Brott talks about the way a father-to-be visualizes his child during the pregnancy, and in my experience, he couldn’t be more dead-on:

…Ask [a woman] to describe herself with the baby…chances are, she’ll talk about a brand-new, fresh-from-the-oven baby. Now do the same thing for [a man]. More than 90 percent of the expectant fathers…describe a scene where they’re engaged with a three- to five-year-old child, holding hands, leaving footprints on the beach, playing catch, reading together, or doing something else interactive… Women, perhaps because of the physical link between themselves and the fetus, have no problem seeing themselves as mothers. And mothers can simply be. But for [men], fatherhood is about doing—teaching, mentoring, preparing our children to meet the world. If you’re ever out at a park or some other place where new parents are hanging out, carrying their babies in front packs, you’ll see a perfect example of this being-vs.-doing approach. Moms almost always carry their babies facing in. Dads almost always carry them facing out, as if to say, “Hey, baby, this is your world.”

Interesting, right? Well now that we’re in the ninth month, how about this one:

…Your partner is going to be increasingly dependent on you—not only to help her physically, but to get her through the last-month emotional ups and downs. At the same time, though, you are going to be increasingly dependent on her as you get onto the last-month roller coaster. [This] increased dependency is considered a “normal” part of pregnancy. But thanks to the ridiculous, gender-specific way we socialize people in this country, men are supposed to be independent, strong, supportive, and impervious to emotional needs—especially while their partners are pregnant. So, just when you’re feeling most vulnerable and least in control, your needs are swept under the rug. And what’s worse, the one person you most depend on for sympathy and understanding may be too absorbed in what’s going on with herself and the baby to do much for you. This results in what Dr. Luis Zayas calls an “imbalance in interdependence,” which leaves the father to satisfy his own emotional needs and those of his partner.

No sympathy required…I’m handling things just fine. 😉 But I still found these passages to be very eye-opening when it comes to being the unpregnant one in a pregnancy.

Bring on baby!