Gordon Churchwell's wife is pregnant. After watching her pee on something like "a scale model of the spaceship from '2001: A Space Odyssey'" and seeing the little window turn pink, they are sure of that. Now, after several weeks of feeling everything from disembodiment to ambivalence, from happiness to emotions "a lot more subtle, a little more complex," Churchwell watches his wife read pile after pile of pregnancy books. And then, in a characteristically comic passage, he explains:
Mysteriously the birth manuals seem to be pursuing some ancient migratory route and begin appearing on my bedside table. I ignore them for a week. Through our nightly reading rituals, I can tell Julie is watching me for any signs of self-initiated interest. I feel like a subject in a Jane Goodall experiment: Chubby ignored the books for several days, until the most amazing thing happened. He picked one up, and, realizing it was about the female primate reproductive experience...read voraciously to the point of overstimulation. We subsequently had to sedate him to save his life.In reading the manuals alongside his wife (Churchwell relented, fearing that his stash of computer magazines was in danger of being burned), he finds that most books about pregnancy leave him out. They scarcely acknowledge, let alone discuss or provide support for, the emotions and even symptoms of expectant fathers. This book sets out to do just that, and to do it with self-revealing honesty and humor.
Interviewing doctors, midwives, psychiatrists, and friends, Churchwell collects perspectivesandexperiences related to expectant fatherhood. He explores topics that range from feelings of jealousy, hyperprotectiveness, abandonment, fear, and ambivalence to having (or not having) sex during pregnancy, attending birthing classes, considering various schools of thought about birthing, and even living through couvade male pregnancy symptoms.
Churchwell walks us through his experience of his wife's miscarriage, with his subsequent feeling of being "spooked" and of feeling "in limbo." He also shares his own perspective on the the two-day-long birth of his daughter, Olivia. He starts with the first untimely contraction and moves through his wife's prolonged labor, the decision to have an epidural, and finally to the moment the new baby is born and Churchwell acknowledges, "Life is already different."
Expectant men will appreciate the candor and jocularity in this rare male account of the nine months of pregnancy. They will find conversation that goes far beyond such traditional male comments to the father-to-be as "You'll never see a movie or have sex again." Expectant women, too, will appreciate this book. They will find an unusual window into the thoughts and feelings of a father-to-be and a starting point for discussion with their own partners. And both sexes, pregnant or not, will find many passages in EXPECTING that call out to be read aloud and laughed at together. Kate Montgomery