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Better Late than Pregnant

I love being asked for my opinion - so when a male reader asked for some advice on dealing with his pregnant wife, I couldn't wait to tell him my "Top Tips for Surviving Your Wife’s Pregnancy". Something Living & Loving hasn't yet covered... funny that!

Dear Shelli

Okay, so here’s the thing. My wife is 5 months pregnant (with a girl) and I really couldn’t be happier. Okay, that’s a lie, I COULD be happier. Because while I am very excited about the baby, I kinda miss my wife. Instead, I have someone that LOOKS like my wife but who yells at me one moment and then cries because she loves me “just so very much” the next. She eats Coco Pops the whole day, is tired all the time, and her body is looking a bit freaky, to be honest. And when I try to talk to her about it, she locks herself in the bathroom and cries for three hours. Please tell me it gets better because I’m actually wondering if we’ve made a big mistake here.




I am actually in two minds about your question. In fact, both my personalities are arguing as we speak. On the one hand, I want to tell you to put on your Big Boy Underpants and cope because really, your wife is the one that is pregnant and it’s not actually about you right now. But on the other hand, I have been pregnant myself and have to admit that the word “freaky” pretty much sums it up.

When I was pregnant, I was actually half-convinced that my body had been taken over by aliens. In fact, I was so relieved after the first scan when I saw that my baby only had one head that I cried for the rest of the afternoon. Then two days later, I lost my waist. It was there the one night when I got out the bath but when I got up the next morning and went to take a shower - it was gone! My boobs got so big that I became paranoid that I would topple over (and probably rock myself to sleep trying to get back up) and my hair grew so quickly that by the time I had paid for my haircut and walked to the car, it was time to turn around and walk back inside again for another trim.

And then there were those bizarre food cravings, and I have to say that you are VERY lucky that your wife feels like eating Coco Pops. I, on the other hand, went completely off chocolate and began devouring three bags of apples a week. Which is not so bad in itself, except that for some strange reason, the apples tasted SO much better when eaten with half a slab of cheese. Any cheese. And sometimes with chutney. I also gagged at the smell of meat cooking, had to avoid the dog food aisle when shopping for groceries (don’t ask) and would quite happily have sold my husband’s right lung for a plate of Chicken Korma day in and day out.

And then the baby started moving (which was JUST precious) except that she had hiccups ALL the time and people would stare in amazement as my stomach jumped up and down in meetings and presentations.  I swear to God that if a little hand had suddenly popped out of my belly button and said “Take me to your leader!” I would probably not have been that surprised.

Let’s just say that it’s a crazy, beautiful, scary, exciting and VERY “freaky” time but the good news is that you have me to talk you through it. You must be SO relieved!

Here are my Top Tips for Surviving Your Wife’s Pregnancy:

  1. Do not under any circumstances attend Antenatal Classes.

These classes are there to scare the living snot out of future parents and make you feel like a failure before you have even started. You will be forced to listen to breastfeeding tips by a woman that breastfed her baby until he was four (it was at this stage that my husband threw up in his mouth and had to leave the room) not to mention the various ways to massage your wife’s perineum. You will be shown a birthing video that doesn’t involve candles and Westlife music but rather a woman screaming and crying while her poor husband tries to unwrap her fingers from around his throat.

  1. Make peace with the fact that your wife’s body is no longer your own

I have to admit that it’s a little odd seeing a male gynae prod a hand up her skirt while you watch from your little chair in the corner, but you’re going to have to get used to it. (And no, it’s not okay to think “You lucky bastard” because he didn’t have to take her for dinner first like you did.)

  1. Get used to the words “placenta” and “mucous plug”

My husband still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder whenever he hears either of those words. In fact, I just have to yell “placenta! placenta! placenta!” when I am losing an argument and his right eye starts twitching uncontrollably. It’s hilariously funny (for me).

  1. Be patient when she obsesses about every little thing

From now on, your wife will only read books called “What to Expect When You Are Expecting”, “What Not to Expect When You Are Expecting”, “Expect to Start Expecting Things You Have Never Expected Before” and so on. Her bedside table will be covered with a mountain of pregnancy magazines, baby magazines, and every single book Sam Cowen has ever written. She will also become increasingly neurotic about every single twinge, pain or cramp that she has, and telling her that she ate too many pies (or that she’s supposed to be eating for two and not ten) is not going to help matters. Make her a cup of ginger tea, put a hot water bottle behind her back, and escape to your study.

  1. You need a study

I always thought that every man had a study but it turns out that this privilege is normally extended to the father of girls. Think of it this way - when your little one arrives, you are going to be outnumbered, which is all fine and well when the baby is still little, but when she reaches the age of about 6 and starts channelling the demanding spirit of her mother, you are going to need a place to hide. The need for a study is going to become even more of a necessity when your daughter reaches puberty when you will have TWO women with PMS living under your roof. Which means that two out of every four weeks are going to be hormone-induced hell for you. Mark your territory now by peeing on the door.

  1. The “nesting” phase will pass

This is actually one of the more challenging stages of pregnancy for a man when your wife turns into Attila The Hun and insists that the entire house be made ready for the baby this very second. For some reason, it will not dawn on her that the baby won’t be able to see further than her little nose or that she probably won’t mind if the shed at the bottom of the garden does not have equally spaced shelving or that the bathroom towels in the spare bathroom don’t quite match. Everything will have to be done NOW and you will make your life SO much easier if you just say “Yes, Dear” and get on with it.

  1. Enjoy your last few months before you become invisible

Right now, your wife is the centre of the entire universe. In her eyes, she is the only woman to ever have a baby and she expects everyone to treat her that way. And they do! Strangers will pat her tummy, she will spend hours and hours talking to everyone about the benefits of different birthing options, and she will glow with an inner light that somehow reflects onto you. By default, you are quite close to being the centre of the universe – something that will change when the baby arrives. Suddenly you will become completely invisible and people will say things like: “Hey, when did YOU get here?” when in actual fact, you arrived at the same time as the baby, you were just left outside to bring in the pram, nappy bag and car chair. Alone.

  1. Ignore every piece of advice you get (except for mine)

The minute people hear you are expecting a baby; they become hives of useless information that they will impart to you at every opportunity. This will range from which pram to buy, where the baby should sleep, how to get the baby to sleep through, what supplements to give the baby, how to stop the baby from having temper tantrums, whether to smack or use the “time out” technique – you name it, they’ll tell you about it. The best way to handle it is to say “Thanks so much, we’ll keep that in mind” and then forget all about it. If you need advice, you’ll ask for it. (Besides, none of us parents know that the hell we’re doing – we just like to give advice so that people thing we actually have a cooking clue on how to raise children.)

At the end of the day, you actually have very few days left of just being a couple – so enjoy them. It’s not always easy, it’s certainly not predictable, but it definitely keeps getting better and better. And if you remember those three magic little words, you will be fine – “HUG and LISTEN”. Write them down, say them out loud, SMS them to yourself until they become ingrained in the very fibre of your being. Because that’s really your role – and it’s an easy one – HUG and LISTEN. Yes, your wife is not really herself right now (who knows, for some women that might just be an improvement) but very soon, you are going to be handed a very small bundle in the hospital room, followed soon after by the sound of crying. And my guess is that the person crying … will, in fact, be you.

Trust me!


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