I can remember very clearly the evening we found out we were going to have our first baby, it is something that will be with me forever. It was a moment of shared bliss which unexpectedly brought my partner and I closer together as a couple, and sent us on a new journey of discovery and joint purpose. This is the way the event unfolded for us.
We live on Australia's Gold Coast. Moving here was a decision we made together, moving away from our families early 2007 in favour for a beach lifestyle. As such, we often have our families visit us for weekends or weeks at a time, staying in our spare room. It really is one of the joys of living at a tourist destination.
At the start of 2008, we had my parents staying with us for a week. It was during this week we started to think we may have a little, unplanned bundle of joy on the way. For better or worse, we waited till mum and dad had left before we got that test.
On purchasing a pregnancy test, an amusing series of events unfolded. My partner ducked out into the bathroom and urinated on the stick as per the directions. Having done so, all courage departed and she ran into the living room, buried herself under a pillow and hid from it. She demanding that I go and find out what it had to tell us.
So I wandered into the bathroom to discover the telltale additional lines, our first baby was on the way. I headed back into the living room with a huge grin on my face and was met by a barrage of demands. Demands that I tell her immediately and to stop holding out on her. So I sat down beside her and softly said "sweetheart, we are going to have a baby".
At this moment she point blank accused me of lying, telling me she didn't believe a word I said and ran into the bathroom to see for herself. It was pretty funny! This was a great introduction to our first pregnancy as those initial magical moments can only be described by the word "rollercoaster". Which is exactly what the next 8 months or so turned out to be.
The rest of the night was simply wonderful. We spent at least an hour in the bathroom looking at the little stick, staring at each other in amazement, whispering quietly "we are going to be parents", "you are going to be a mum", "you are going to be a dad" and the like. Despite the tumultuous beginning, it turned into an evening of softness, joy and intimacy. An experience that never would have been the same if it was shared with others. An experience in which we grew together as a couple, as a family.
Pregnancy, particularly your first, is packed with precious moments like this. These moments can not only be precious though, but massively positive for your relationship with your partner. They have the power to bring you closer together, to bind you in joint purpose. Unfortunately though, I found as the expectant father, sometimes you need to fight to protect those moments for yourself and your partner. There are so many people out there who lose sight of family boundaries during a pregnancy and try to interfere, to the extent that they will marginalise you as far as they can out of the process.
One of my wife's friends even went so far as to interfere with the decision of who would be in our delivery room. She didn't discuss her thoughts with us. No, what she did was call my wife's sister and told her directly that we wanted her to be in the delivery room with us. I'm not sure if I am being naive in believing she had good intentions when doing this, (although, I have no idea what they may have been) however the point is to show you just how inappropriate some women get when "helping" with another families first pregnancy.
Another constant was the well meaning woman telling us that in her experience of giving birth, that medical advice we were receiving was incorrect. Yes sure, she had her children over 30 years ago, but nothing has changed and she knew better. Ridiculous. The really impressive part of these experiences though is that as the father to be, my opinions and participation in the discussion was not required. Apparently I was completely superfluous when it came to these decisions being made in my family.
The pregnancy of your first child really is a rollercoaster ride. You have such immense highs, indescribable moments you share with your partner. Moments you can hardly understand yet will never forget. For the first time you are bringing a new life into the world.
And then you have the pressures, feelings of self doubt, financial pressures, and feelings of being marginalised and pushed out of the way. This is why learning to trust your instincts becomes so important. You have to trust you'll be able to provide for your family. You have to trust yourself so you know, when the well meaning woman enters the fray, the decisions you've made as a couple are the right decisions for your experience.
I've talked to many fathers since these days, fathers from three different generations. The one thing that became absolutely clear to me was the well meaning woman is not new. She has existed forever, always lurking behind some skirt ready to interfere in someone else's family. She could be a best friend, she could be you mother in law, she could even be your Mum. No matter whose face she wears, she probably already exists in your life.
I found the well meaning woman really impacted us in 2 areas. I learned pretty quick that it was important for me as the father to be, to protect our family from her influences in two areas particularly. If you are facing similar difficulties today, you may want to pay particular attention to these things.
Firstly, you need to protect your right to trust the medical information your health professionals are giving you. You need to make people aware that within your family, opinions on medical matters are off limits to them.
Secondly you need to protect the trust you have in your's and your wife's instincts. These instincts are probably the most powerful tool you have as a couple during pregnancy. Your pregnancy, birth experience and child will not be the same as any other which has ever come before. Its unique to your situation and only your instincts are aligned with your experience. The well meaning woman's instincts were very valid for her pregnancy, but that was a completely different experience to yours. So trust yourself and protect your partners trust in herself. Its important.
Remember, as an expectant father, people will continually try and make you feel out of the loop. They will continually leave you second guessing yourself. Trust your instincts, insulate your family from the inappropriate interferences of others and make the decisions which are right for your circumstances.