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Shock, Joy, Surprise, and Things You’ll Want to Do When the Baby Is Born
THE MAGIC URINE: The Day We Officially Lose Control
You can take a pregnancy test yourself, but only hers counts.
The first four tests she took were all positive, but the indicator strips were extremely light. That’s when I took a fifth test to act as a control test to make sure the results were accurate. She laughed at first but generally thought I was an idiot for doing so. She stood next to me as I took the test (she turned away when I peed). After dipping the stick, my wife watched as the indicator light revealed the results. As predicted, the results were a bright negative. For some reason, I had to test it. I just couldn’t believe it.
—Scott, daughter, twenty-three months
The lack of control begins with her pee.
My wife hoarded her urine—she insisted it was too early to take a pregnancy test and refused to pee on a stick for me. I insisted she share her pee. While I agreed it was too early to get accurate results, taking a pregnancy test is too much fun to pass up. How many times in our lives would we get to do this?
She explained that she didn’t want to be disappointed if the test was negative like the previous month’s round of testing. We agreed that a negative result was the most likely outcome and decided we wouldn’t be disappointed because it was so early. She handed me some of her possibly pregnant urine to test—just for fun. She then quickly took it back and dipped the pregnancy test stick. We huddled around the urine-soaked magic wand, waiting.
Pregnancy tests detect the pregnancy hormone hCG. hCG begins to be produced when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus—about six days after conception—and then continues to increase during pregnancy. Most pregnancy tests give the most accurate results once hCG reaches high enough levels in the urine to be detected, about one week after a missed period. Early pregnancy tests can be used to tell if you’re pregnant up to five days before a missed period.
Once we dipped the stick and waited two minutes, we saw what appeared to be the faintest blue line. The line was so faint it almost wasn’t there. It definitely wasn’t negative, but it was barely positive. We turned it, we put it under a bright light, dipped it one more time to see if it changed—still, the results were unclear.
PREGNANCY Q & A
QUESTION: Number of pregnancy tests she took?
ANSWER: Around three or four.
QUESTION: How long it took for her to get pregnant?
ANSWER: About two months.
QUESTION: Where it happened (location)?
ANSWER: We think conception happened at home on the middle landing of the (carpeted) stairs the night after we saw the movie The Break-Up.
Fast-forward fifteen minutes, and I returned home from the drugstore with three deluxe digital home pregnancy tests. She peed again, we huddled again, and then the word pregnant flashed on the screen. We took another test and it said not pregnant. She then took another digital test from a different manufacturer, and the results flashed pregnant. We figured two flashing pregnant sticks meant that she was really pregnant.
After more research, I learned that tests rarely ever give false positives. (hCG levels can vary from day to day, which can make someone have a positive test one day and then a negative test the next.) So a positive result normally means that you can be pretty sure she is pregnant. My wife took another test with her morning pee, and we were 100 percent positive. Four cheap tests and three digital tests later (a total of $75 worth of sticks), we finally believed she was pregnant.
This was the moment I lost control. As a man, I didn’t even have control over the test—that’s how little control we have from day one. But as I would learn, the sooner I accepted the lack of control and yielded to the universe, the sooner I could get comfortable with the uncomfortable and enjoy this wild ride.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Put your urine away and go with her flow. There’s no controlling the future even if you pee on a control stick.
REACTING TO THE NEWS: It Doesn’t Quite Seem Real Yet
The first few days are surreal; then normal life returns.
We had been trying to get pregnant for eight months. The lack of control we had over our ability to conceive was a source of discomfort. The longer we tried, the more impatient we started to feel. By month four of trying to conceive, we knew we were doing everything in our power to become pregnant and that some of this process was just out of our control, so we started to release ourselves to the universe. We also switched from the pregnancy test with the lines to the test that had a smiley face as the positive indicator (the marketing got us—what would you rather see, a line or a smile?). This particular morning, we were both standing around the bathroom sink waiting for the test to reveal the answer. When the smiley face began to emerge, we just stared at it in disbelief. We gave it a couple more minutes to turn negative, but it stayed positive. We couldn’t believe it worked. Once the disbelief subsided, there was happiness, then a fear that it wouldn’t stick (some of our friends had miscarried), then excitement that it happened, followed by relief that we could conceive. It’s funny; the month we got pregnant was the month we relied on the least amount of science to get pregnant.
—Mike, son, three months
Congratulations! You are now an expectant father. You got someone pregnant. Feels good, right?
You might be shocked, happy, surprised, fearful, joyous, disappointed, relieved, panicked, regretful, ecstatic, numb, or full of pride. Or you might not know what to feel.
He found out Christmas morning. I put the pregnancy test in his stocking. He kept looking at me, confused and surprised, saying, “Really?”
—Cathy, sons, four months and three and a half
Once the initial shock passes and your emotions settle down, life might not seem all that different for you. You’re not the one with morning sickness. As a man, you know something big is happening, but until you can see it, touch it, or hear it, you can have a hard time processing pregnancy and what’s happening. A man needs to hear the heartbeat, see the ultrasound, and feel the baby kick to grab onto the fact that things are changing. It can take months for it to hit you. I’m convinced that pregnancy lasts forty weeks because it takes a guy a good five months to believe it and another four months to get the furniture delivered.
On the other side of the bed is your expectant partner. She is consumed with change. All her energy is channeled into the pregnancy from the moment the test turns positive. She is hyperfocused. Once the test turns positive, she’ll go online and find a pregnancy group. She’ll buy pregnancy books. She’ll download apps. She’ll subscribe to pregnancy magazines, order catalogs (for the baby’s room), shop for maternity clothing, register for baby stuff, clean the house, and do anything else that can help her start preparing for the big event.
We had just returned from a week’s vacation and pretty much knew we were preggers, and it was very unplanned. I just came out of the bathroom that morning crying and holding a very positive test stick. After I crawled back into the bed next to him, he said, “I’ve never been so scared, excited, and proud all at the same time…My boys can swim!!!”
—Misti, daughter, twenty-four months
In the meantime, your life changes far less during the first few months. You’ll do things to prepare for the baby, but it’s not quite real yet. If you’ve been engaged, it’s kind of like right after you propose to her. The moment the ring goes on her finger, she’s off to the races planning the wedding. It’s total immersion—books, magazines, planners, conversations with friends, and anything else she can consume to help her with what’s next. Meanwhile, most men aren’t in the same place at the same time. Once a guy sees his bride walking down the aisle, he starts to get excited because he knows that it’s real. It’s not that we don’t care. We’re just programmed differently.
The challenge here is that a woman might misinterpret your actions (or lack thereof) as uncaring. She might think that you are not as happy if you’re not doing as much as she is to get ready for the baby. So the best way to connect is to take an active role. She won’t force you—you have to be willing and proactive.
One of the easiest ways to feel connected and involved is to read the week-by-week pregnancy updates with your partner. (You can find them in this book and on the Dad’s Expecting Too Tracker at DadsExpectingToo.com.) The first twelve weeks of pregnancy are some of the most remarkable and dramatic weeks of development. If you keep up with what’s happening, you will be involved, engaged, and more connected. You’ll get excited when you read about each week’s changes. And when you’re excited and connected, you won’t have to work so hard to convince her that you’re part of this process.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Once you meet your new baby, you’ll know this is real. For now, check out pages 75–94 for a week-by-week guide to what’s happening inside her belly and pretend it’s real (because it’s real).