MY PREG­NANCY...

Jour­nal­ist Re­becca Ho­ran is just head­ing into the last third of her first preg­nancy. So what does it hold for a ca­reer- driven woman who is ex­cited, anx­ious – and has never read a baby book in her life?

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AND OTHER SUR­PRISES Re­becca Ho­ran on her un­ex­pected news – and how she’s cop­ing with it

So af­ter a cou­ple of weeks of fo­cus­ing on me, me, me – I am the one who’s preg­nant af­ter all – I sup­pose it’s only right that I turn at least some of my at­ten­tion to my hus­band and how this up­heaval is af­fect­ing him too. Now I won’t be as bold as to say that it’s the same or on a par with what we as women ex­pe­ri­ence, but it’s def­i­nitely no pic­nic.

I think it’s fair to say that men, par­tic­u­larly my hus­band, are largely re­dun­dant af­ter that mag­i­cal night of con­cep­tion. There­after, it’s the woman who’s con­grat­u­lated on ‘her’ mar­vel­lous news, the woman who re­ceives myr­iad choco­late treats from sym­pa­thetic work col­leagues, the woman who un­der­stands ex­actly what her doc­tor is talk­ing about when he refers to ‘Galfer’, ‘Brax­ton Hicks’ and ‘An­drews Antacid’ – and no, these aren’t for­mer soc­cer le­gends. It’s also the woman who feels the first flut­ters when the baby starts to make its pres­ence known.

For men, the long road can be dom­i­nated by the ar­rival of not-so-happy hor­mones. My hus­band learned the hard way re­cently never to ut­ter the ‘h’ word again – it has re­placed PMS on the banned list for 40 weeks.

Men must en­dure labour videos and are also expected to make late-night trips to the lo­cal petrol sta­tion – my shop­ping list usu­ally in­cludes things like a Terry’s Choco­late Or­ange, two bags of di­nosaur jel­lies, a Vienetta and can of Ci­dona.

My hus­band re­ceived no train­ing for what to ex­pect when I was ex­pect­ing, and it cer­tainly isn’t nat­u­ral to have a volatile, hun­gry, un­pre­dictable crea­ture move in for most of the year, re­plac­ing their usu­ally charm­ing wife.

I don’t want to sound sex­ist – I love women and I’m firmly of the be­lief that men don’t ‘babysit’ their own chil­dren and should play a ma­jor part in the rear­ing of them.

But af­ter ask­ing my hus­band and his male friends about their ex­pe­ri­ences of liv­ing with preg­nancy, I was amazed to find the re­sponses I got were ‘tough’, ‘un­pre­dictable’, ‘not for the faint-hearted’, ‘god-aw­ful’ and ‘I don’t want to talk about it’.

One pretty hard­core dad-to-be that we know is cur­rently at­tend­ing the twice-weekly an­te­na­tal and breast­feed­ing classes on his own be­cause his wife is too busy with her pre­na­tal yoga classes. This man is stu­diously tak­ing notes for his part­ner in the hope that he can be of as­sis­tance and ease her trou­bles. Now that’s love.

Even sci­en­tists agree that men re­ally do suf­fer dur­ing preg­nancy – phys­i­cally as well as men­tally and emo­tion­ally. It is of­fi­cially called Cou­vade syn­drome or ‘a sym­pa­thetic preg­nancy’, symp­toms of which in­clude mi­nor weight gain, al­tered hor­mone lev­els, morn­ing nau­sea and dis­turbed sleep pat­terns.

If you still aren’t feel­ing sorry for your part­ner then this might make you change your mind. Af­ter men have sur­vived the preg­nancy and the end-game is near, well this is when they be­come com­pletely and ut­terly re­dun­dant. Once the wa­ters have bro­ken, then the men are hos­pi­tal-bound to be greeted by a mid­wife who doesn’t re­ally care about their needs, thrown a pair of scrubs and left to their own de­vices. It can’t be easy to look on as your wife or part­ner goes through one of the most dis­tress­ing times of their life, and there’s noth­ing you can do about it.

And it doesn’t stop there. Once you both emerge ex­hausted from the hos­pi­tal, he’s usu­ally left with the task of fig­ur­ing out the baby para­pher­na­lia – car seat, buggy, ster­iliser, they all have to be set up and func­tional, ready for baby’s first trip home.

Ob­vi­ously it’s not al­ways the case, but the woman’s fam­ily does tend to have more in­put once the lit­tle bundle of joy has arrived home. With my hus­band’s fam­ily all abroad, this will cer­tainly be the case in our house.

Many men are ban­ished to the garden shed when the in-laws de­scend. They stay there with the lights off, clutch­ing a bot­tle of Heineken, sur­rounded by 200 bags of nap­pies (there was a deal in Aldi).

I guess the moral of this story is: men, you need to have pa­tience and a good sense of hu­mour. And what­ever you do, never say ‘yes dear, your bump does look big in that’. My hus­band did – and is still pay­ing for it.

Re­becca Ho­ran is a dig­i­tal pre­sen­ter and jour­nal­ist for Ex­tra.ie. Fol­low her on Twit­ter @Ho­ranBex

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