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Is Pregnancy as Important to Men as It is to Women?
by Dena Fischer
My husband was ready for kids long before I was. And I do mean kids. He wasn’t thinking crying babies, piles of diapers, spit up, shopping for bjorns, bumpers and burp cloths.
His vision was of family – of throwing a ball with his boy, of a little girl throwing her arms around his knees to welcome him home from work.
Our journey through infertility was short but bumpy – we learned early on I couldn’t conceive or carry a baby due to a childhood bout with cancer. Brad was ready to go the surrogacy/egg donor route right away but waited patiently for me to come to terms with my disappointment and to catch up to him.
What he wanted, as I said, was a family.
I remember him telling me about getting off a plane from a business trip and seeing two kids run up joyously shouting “Daddy” in greeting to a fellow passenger and all he could think was “I want that.” It wasn’t about living with a pregnant person for nine months – that wasn’t the piece he’d been looking forward to his whole life the way women look forward to being pregnant.
Pregnancy -- while for women may be anticipated as a high point, an accomplishment, a critical step in the journey -- for most men is simply a means to an end.
Recently we were talking about his perspective on our whole experience (a surrogate helped us have our twin sons) and he said “no husband looks forward to living with a pregnant person – it’s bound to be a tough nine months no matter what – you’d be moody, you’d feel fat, and the worst part would be worried about how worried I would have been about YOU the entire time.”
I hadn’t thought of it that way.
He went on to say that, being a man, he could never fully comprehend what I felt I’d missed. He understood that there was a deep sense of loss for me but for him, the wonderful end far outweighed the means of getting there.
Not having that husband/wife “team building” experience of me being pregnant, going through the delivery like it is in the movies – with the hand holding, the “breathe honey”s, the cursing played for comedic effect, the tears of joy and relief when the baby’s finally out and that look – that eye-lock unique to brand new parents in that miraculous moment – we don’t have that.
But here’s the great part, the part that’s important to remember when you’re going through whatever detours your trip to parenthood takes, my husband hadn’t thought of any of that. It never occurred to him that he missed out on something – it hadn’t occurred to him as a part of the experience.
So when you and your whole team of doctors and nurses and financial counselors and genetic counselors and attorneys are going through all the business of getting you pregnant – and it’s nothing like candlelit love making and that “we just made a baby” moment with swelling violins – try to remember that none of that matters to him.
What matters to him is you two becoming parents to little people – not to zygotes or embryos or fetuses . . . or maybe even babies. And believe me, the team building comes right along with being parents.
He isn’t rarin’ to cater to your cravings for nine months or to hold your hand through an epidural. He’ll do it. But only if he has to in order to get where he wants to go.
It’s about so much more than being pregnant – it’s about being a family.
Dena Fischer is a literary agent with Manus & Associates Literary Agency, Inc. and a freelance writer. In addition to working and raising her children, she is actively involved in education in her community and is a founding member of The Potrero Residents Education Fund whose mission is to improve public education in her San Francisco neighborhood of Potrero Hill. She lives with her husband of 15 years, Brad Rothenberg, and their twin boys Henry & Sam.