Let’s face it, it can be easy for dads-to-be to feel useless when it comes to pregnancy. While mom and baby are teaming up to perform a 40-week biological miracle, dad gets to keep drinking what he wants, eating what he wants, and being the same person he has always been. For dads who give a shit and want to be engaged in the process, you go the doctor’s appointments, you take the classes, and try to be an equitable partner however you can. No matter what you do though there is no equity here – everybody knows who is doing the heavy lifting and it isn’t you. There are additional chores to do and errands to run and decisions to make but for the most part life can still go on for you as it did before if you want it to.
Maybe if you have a little bit of self-awareness you realize that pregnancy and parenting are monumental tasks and you should try to be as prepared as you can be. Maybe you know that while you’re not doing the hardest work before the baby arrives, just being engaged equips you to provide better support and empathy that your partner needs. Or maybe you realize that with no physical connection with your baby like the mother has, reading and learning and getting into dad mindset are one of the few good ways to meaningfully involve yourself emotionally with what’s happening. Regardless, there is a wealth of information out there to explore that can help with this – or so it would seem.
That’s where I found myself a few months ago. When my wife shared the good news with me, I dove right in to searching the web, downloading apps, buying and borrowing books. It didn’t take long before I became a little bit disheartened by what I was able to find, because most of it did not speak to me.
I found plenty of apps, blogs, websites and forums geared toward moms. Pretty much all of the biggest and most active resources geared toward pregnancy and parenting are geared toward moms, somewhat to the exclusion of dads. There is great and important information to be found in those places that can help with learning what is going on with your partner and baby, but much of it does not address what to expect as a father-to-be. That is not a problem in and of itself – women and mothers of all types need to have their perspectives addressed through these kinds of resources.
The real problem for me was what I found when I sought information geared specifically toward dads. It’s a somewhat desolate landscape of condescending advice and bad stereotypes. Men, in general, have earned this derision through generations of sexism, disinterest, and disengagement. I first-hand experiences with fathers like this from my own childhood. Not everybody is like that though, and of course, that is most certainly not who I want to be.
Where can someone like me turn when I am determined to be a better father than my own father was? Where can I go to get advice on parenting that doesn’t torture the information into an overblown analogy about football or car repair in order to help me understand it? Where can I learn about what what to expect as a father in the delivery room that doesn’t assume that I’m only going to say stupid things to piss off my wife or knock over trays of sterile instruments. What resources will speak to me in a way that treats me as a full partner to my wife in raising our child rather than a passenger or obstacle?
There are good dad blogs and books out there. I have come across a few of them, and I plan to share what I’ve found so far at some point. I don’t think it’s enough though, and I don’t think that the body of information out there is covering as many perspectives on fatherhood as it could. There are great resources and communities out there for stay-at-home fathers, single fathers, Christian fathers, and more. My background and experience are different from those though, so maybe I can add my voice to theirs somehow. That’s why I’ve carved out this space I guess. Having not found enough perspectives that I can relate to, my hope is that by adding my own that I can be helpful to somebody else like me, if anybody ends up bothering to read this.
In three months I’m going to become a father. I am the son of a father who didn’t really want to be one, and who left me with more bad examples to discard than good ones to follow. I am the son of a mother who did everything she could to hold it all together, and who inspires me to make that mean something with how I raise her grandchild. I am flawed and inexperienced and will make a lot of silly mistakes, but I care deeply and will keep trying until I get it right. I am married to a fantastic woman who has sacrificed deeply for us to start a family, and the only way I can come close to repaying her is by being the best husband and father that I can be. We are starting a family together, and these are our stories.