It is just one of those things, guys. You’ve got to do it. While attending the first pregnancy-related OB visits with your wife does not sound like an earth-shattering, backbreaking show of support, you should at least offer to go. And when your wife says that she doesn’t want you to go, it is wise to insist that you want to (what are you, nuts?). This simple two hour commitment (appointment + lunch) blurs and transcends the distinct barriers that separate men and women. I know what you are thinking, “Who wants to cross those lines? Those lines help dictate societal order. I am comfortable being a caveman sort of guy!” and while you may feel as uncomfortable as I did, she will never forget that you were there.
Where is women’s lib when a guy needs a magazine to read at the obstetrician? There are no “normal” magazines to read. Where are all of the Sports Illustrated magazines? All I can find is Woman, People, and Parent. Ah, safe! A Car and Driver. I thought it was all over with!
And now, to keep you up to date and prepared for what you are about to encounter, I am going to briefly and graphically describe what transpires at the first pregnancy OB exam. I don’t necessarily want to relive this, but if someone had told me what to expect, I would not have been so nervous. After the three zillion questions, you are ushered into a room where your wife immediately tears off all of her clothes except for her bra, and leaps nimbly up onto the table (I know, we all wish we had a room like this at home). She then covers herself with a paper blanket. It is recommended that you make small talk now. “How ‘bout them Packers?” is what I said. It didn’t seem appropriate at the time (she is a 49er fan), but then again, nothing would have. The doctor enters and continues her conversation with you interspersed with commands such as, “Relax, and scoot down, give me your heels.” Then the doctor extends this groovy 6000 watt gyno light from the wall (I wish’t we’d had one’a them’n our day). This light lights up the entire southern region. It is also a heat lamp, I was informed later.
Armed with a modicum of social etiquette, I quickly moved to the non-business end of the small room. The doctor then dons examination gloves, lubricates one, and proffers up with this steel, seven-inch convex and concave-duckbill-shaped ratcheted apparatus. Casually the doctor says, “This is going to be a little uncomfortable, you are going to feel a little pressure here.”
It was uncomfortable and I did feel the pressure until the doctor asked, “How ‘bout them Rams?”
Thoughts raced through my mind, “It must have been the doc’s Car and Driver magazine, and that must be her cool Acura Legend with big fat tires in the parking lot” and “Any guy that is not at least fifty-one percent scared shitless pondering childbirth and fatherhood, is absolutely, certifiably crazy.”
It was all worth it though, as during our lunch, my wife looked at me with loving eyes and said to me, “Thank you for coming with me today.”
She genuinely meant it.
Since this auspicious occasion, I have spoken to many fathers who did not participate in this aspect of the pregnancy, and many more guys who vowed not to when the time came. One friend stated that he did not even want to be in the delivery room during the birth of his child. All of these feelings are natural, and as each couple is different, there is no right or wrong.
Well… Actually… There is. Your wife is right with whatever she decides is the best approach and, if you disagree with her (you guessed it!) you are wrong.
– Grant Eppler
Sacramento, CaliforniaGrant Eppler is author of Every Guy’s Guide as to What to Expect When She’s Expecting.