The wife of an old high school friend of mine just gave birth to their first child a few days ago. Over the last few months, I've been dropping (what I think are) helpful pieces of advice to him as they journeyed down the long three-quarters of a year of gestation. I figured that I've been a parent for almost 2 ½ years, so I'm basically an expert.
Now that my wife is expecting again, I'm trying to remember all of the important details from our first loop around the block. Unfortunately, due to major sleep deprivation over the last quarter-decade, I can barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday. So I've decided to compile a reference list of helpful hints for Dudes whose wives/girlfriends/partners are expecting a bundle of joy. (I use the term wife below, since that's what I have, but whichever variety applies to you works the same.)
Since your free time is running out, I present without further delay:
The Dude's Guide to Surviving Your First Pregnancy:
1. If you don't know the fruit of your loins' gender, ignore everyone who offers their opinion. If you wanted to know you'd find out. Whether it's your favorite aunt or the checkout person at Target, whatever they say is useless. And never do the "ring on a string" trick on your wife's belly to find out. There are much more scientific options available. Like asking a Magic 8 Ball.
2. Don't read What To Expect When You're Expecting. I know it's been around for decades and has gajillions of copies in print, but it could really scare you. You may shy away from your wife when you learn about the numerous colorful bodily functions and expulsions she will endure during these 40 weeks up through and after the main event. Sure, it's fun to read that the baby is the size of a grape or a plum or a Pony-keg, but 90% of the rest of the book contains warnings like eating Lucky Charms while pregnant is bad for your baby*. It's so scary, in fact, that I initially thought it was a Stephen King book.
3. Do read Jenny McCarthy's pregnancy book Belly Laughs. Yes, she is generally a total kook, but her pregnancy book is hilarious and she gives practical advice for both men and women. Trust me on this one.
4. Go to restaurants you really enjoy. Once Junior arrives you may still be able to go there occasionally, but you'll be eating so fast you won't taste the food as you shovel it down your gullet while getting an earful of screaming from your Mini-Me and dirty looks from the nearby tables. Eating out basically becomes the dining equivalent of doing a beer bong.
5. Don't let Babies 'R Us employees guilt you into registering for or, even worse, actually buying a roomful of unnecessary contraptions your baby doesn't really need. Unless you live in an igloo, your baby probably can survive without heated wipes.
6. Go to the movies as much as possible. Once the baby arrives, you won't be able to see another movie where Reese Witherspoon can't figure out that the handsome guy she's been bickering with actually likes her without spending $100 in the process for YEARS. (This is actually kind of a good thing.)
7. On a related note, don't ever watch a birthing video. It's one of those retina-scarring things that you can't unwatch. Sort of like a Reese Witherspoon movie.**
8. Maximize use of the "Expectant Mother" parking spaces everywhere you can. Your window is small, much like your wife's bladder for the next few months. If men and women are truly equal partners, there should be no problem with dudes using these spaces. Even if you are going to pick up some hunting gear or a new flat-screen for your man cave.
9. Speaking of her compromised bladder, don't drive fast over speed bumps and pot holes. (Exceptions: if you put down plastic sheeting on the seat first or if you are trying to induce labor.)
10. If debating baby names with your wife, pick a name you like then throw in options like "Google," "Kanye" or "Caligula." That context will make your first choice much more appealing.
I hope this list helps as you travel down the path toward unimaginable insomnia.
To quote Robert Hunter: "Believe it if you need it, if you don't, just pass it on."
What advice would YOU give to expectant Dudes?
*That may not be actual claim from the book, but I remember reading stuff like that and subsequently not letting my wife read the book after the first trimester.
**Exception to the rule: Election. Tracy Flick rules.