It’s been less than 24 hours since we found out that Michelle is pregnant and we are already establishing that I am the worrier and Michelle is taking it all in her stride.
After a third positive pregnancy test this morning, we made an appointment with the doctor to understand the next steps. The doctor congratulated us and asked Michelle a few questions to figure out the dates. She established that Michelle was 5 weeks pregnant and that the due date will be October 5th.
She asked ‘lady questions’ about menstrual cycles and wanted to know when Michelle had stopped taking the contraceptive pill.
“Fantastic” she said, “You caught first month. Some couples try for months, it’s perfect that you caught straight away”
Caught? Is that the phrasing we use for conceiving? We made a baby, we didn’t go fishing!
She explained that the midwife would contact Michelle to make arrangements for the scans at around 10 weeks and for now Michelle just needed to eat well and take supplements for ‘folic acid’ which would help with the development of the spine. I made a mental note to google folic acid later.
Michelle mentioned that she had slight twinges in her stomach, similar to period pains less painful.
The doctor continued to smile but it seemed as though this was her queue to give us some warnings.
“If there is any bleeding we need to see you straight away” she said to Michelle. “Sometimes things go wrong and nature will take it’s course and reject the embryo”
“Should we be worried by the stomach twinges” Michelle asked
“No, not unless they are very painful or there is bleeding. Your body is going through huge changes already”
Michelle seemed satisfied by this answer but I was starting to panic on the inside. There’s a lot that can go wrong here. I’ve heard people say that the first 12 weeks are the most risky. Traditionally people don’t announce their pregnancy until after this 12 week period as it’s seen as much safer and much more a reality after this point.
That means we have 7 weeks to get through. What’s the best way to do that?
At this point my mind saw it as a call to action, some kind of innate responsibility that I needed to make sure the next 7 weeks were safe, stress free and full of nutrition. Maybe Michelle could stay in bed for the next 7 weeks and I could be the hunter gatherer, returning every few hours with spinach smoothies and avocado super food salads? It wouldn’t exactly be practical but that didn’t matter, this was important.
There was nothing to do now but wait for the midwife appointment at the end of next month.
We both went to work. Normal life resumed.
I couldn’t focus on anything and spent most of the afternoon on Google searching things like ‘5 weeks pregnant’, ‘what is folic acid’ and ‘what foods are good for pregnancy’. I started making a list of the foods that various websites recommended. Red peppers, kiwi fruits and avocado for vitamins, yoghurts for calcium. There were lots of dos and don’ts; there is a lot to learn about pregnancy.
At 4pm I went to pick Michelle up from work. We had planned to go to the supermarket on the way home to pick up a few groceries and also some vitamins and folic acid supplements.
Michelle was feeling really tired, an early symptom of pregnancy of course, and hungry too.
I told her that I had been searching foods on the internet and told her I would make her a banana smoothie when we got home.
“I just want a cheese and ham toastie” she replied
“That’s no good, you need something full of vitamins” I said
“You can stop with this shit already” she snapped. “I want a toastie”
Lesson learnt. You don’t tell your pregnant wife what she wants to eat!
This was uncharted territory, I am not the worrier in this relationship, whereas Michelle, by her own admission, worries about most things. Yet, there we were in Tesco, for a typical grocery shop, and I was stood in the fruit and veg aisle trying to decide whether oranges or kiwi fruits have the better vitamin count as if it were one of the most crucial decisions I have ever made, then two minutes later wondering if there is any meal that I know how to make that could be improved by adding a little bit of kale to it?
Is this how it’s going to be now? Am I going to be the worrier? How long for? Until the 12 week scan? Until birth? Until our baby turns 18?
There’s an element of feeling helpless. As a dad-to-be there isn’t really a role to play in pregnancy other than trying to make sure that everything goes OK, yet there’s a huge eagerness to take action. How do I help? What’s the grand gesture that shows that I’m in this too and I’m as much a part of this as you?
Maybe there isn’t a grand gesture. Maybe the role of the dad in pregnancy is to be the patient, calm and consistent one. Maybe spending the next 8 months offering small gestures of support is what I need to do.
I guess I’ll figure it out as I go; but for now, I need to go and buy some red bell peppers as they contain 209mg of vitamin C, apparently.