Dad-to-be Shawn Porto and his wife are awaiting the birth of their first baby. He chronicles the journey in a regular blog. Every person who learns of their impending parenthood has many questions about themselves that both frighten and intrigue them. No matter what your story, these questions are often internalized to fester for the duration of the gestational period. I feel that it’s safe to say that the most popular question couples and individuals ask themselves revolves around two words; What If? The What ifs are followed by a host of thoughts and feelings that are a byproduct of one’s journey through life and the guidance each person has experienced throughout it. In my encounters with expectant couples, I have noticed a nervous energy that resonates between each person; whether externalized or internalized; the What ifs? are plentiful. What I do know about silencing these insecurities of pregnancy reside in taking ownership of controllable factors. To highlight a few of these controllable factors, I’ve listed a few that have helped us:
- Reading books – to prepare for the physical and emotional changes of your spouse, prior to birth and early stages of parenthood.
- Take a pregnancy course (aka; Lamaze class) – this will prepare you for all of the (pardon the pun) bumps in the road, and it reassures your wife that her bumps are felt by others too.
- Improving on household efficiencies take action to fix what needs to be fixed, and review areas that can be improved. This exercise will ensure that the time you spend your child is quality-time and is not spent juggling tasks. For example, removing carpets and installing easier surfaces to clean and maintain.
- Prepare other household inhabitants getting your pets used to new rules and having another focus of attention in the house, by using baby dolls and using a bassinette to set boundaries for your fur-babies.
While these measures help, they certainly don’t eliminate our insecurities; I’ve listed a few of the What ifs?that my wife and I continue to wrestle with:Shawn’s What If’s
- What if he/she picks up the habits that I dislike about myself?
- What if the dog reacts negatively to the baby?
- What if I don’t like his/her friends or their parents?
My Wife What If’s
- What if I can’t handle the pain of labor?
- What if the sickness I’ve endured throughout the pregnancy impacts the health of the child?
- What if the house isn’t ready for the baby?
As you can see, our concerns are quite different, so it has been necessary that we reassure one another that our concerns are valid but manageable. This level of support can come by way of rational conversation, a quick joke to diffuse the anxiety or by a simple embrace that lets your significant other know that he or she is not alone in the process. This time in our lives is also filled with hope and excitement for the arrival of our first child and no matter what the insecurities we face today, our child is going to experience the world for himself/herself, with our guidance and insecurities in tow. Finally, I should note that not all What ifs? are bad they can also serve as a fun distraction to make it through the work week. For example; What if my child is the next Sidney Crosby? or to be more realistic, What if we’re lucky with a child that sleeps through the night?