It might sound like an odd thing to say, but one of my reflections in recent weeks is that I’m glad pregnancy lasts 9 months.
I appreciate that this might sound rather disrespectful to all the pregnant women out there who are battling a multitude of unpleasant symptoms. Two of our friends have just had a baby two full weeks after their due date and by all accounts the last few days felt like a lifetime. My wife is currently approaching the 7 month mark and I suspect we’re getting pretty close to the “I just want this thing out of me!” stage…
As a man, however, I have to say that I’m glad pregnancy lasts 9 months.
Clearly there are various practicalities that need to be addressed when you have a baby, and 9 months is a pretty generous time frame to source everything that we’re going to need. I think we’re about 80% there on the paraphernalia front, and have thus far resisted the temptation to buy anything other than the bare essentials. My wife retains a small obsession with Gumtree, which is great news for the budget.
Pregnancy has also represented one last window of opportunity to do all the things that may or may not be possible once we have a child. In my case this has primarily consisted of DIY projects, playing lots of golf and spending a week together in the Loire drinking wine and eating cheese – neither of which, incidentally, my wife will be able to partake in (I like to think that this is a considered protest against yet another of those ridiculous marketing ruses, the “babymoon”, but really I just have a very kind wife).
However, whilst it’s nice to have 9 months to purchase equipment and decorate a nursery and play golf and go on one last extravagant holiday, the main reason that I’m glad pregnancy lasts 9 months is that it’s given me time to get my head around becoming a parent.
My attitude has changed dramatically over the last 7 months or so, but I have to confess that I haven’t always been unequivocally positive about the prospect of becoming a parent.
There are probably a number of reasons for this.
Friends with children have often spoken about how difficult it is. Popular culture typically portrays fatherhood in a vaguely contemptuous, disempowered light. Whilst I don’t have to suffer the physical symptoms experienced by my wife, equally I don’t have the tangible connection with our child that she enjoys on a daily basis. I’ve written previously about my biggest fears surrounding becoming a dad – namely sleep deprivation, professional regression and ultimately that I’ll just be a hypocrite.
I’ve often tried to produce a mental Profit & Loss account setting out the advantages and disadvantages of having children and found myself worrying in the red.
This feels doubly awful, firstly because you feel like you’ve made a terrible mistake and secondly because you feel terrible for even entertaining such thoughts about what is supposed to be the best experience of your life. Don’t get me wrong; I was chuffed when I found out that we were pregnant, and there have been various stages where I’ve been very excited. However, there have also been times when I’ve been apprehensive about the situation.
Over time, though, my attitude has definitely changed.
I’ve binged on cycling and golf (and realised that I remain woefully mediocre at both, baby or no baby – I would call it ‘one last hurrah’, but there’s never been much in the way of hurrah to say farewell to) and feel less concerned about having less leisure time going forwards.
We’re tantalisingly close to finishing renovating our house, which has occupied varying amounts of the last 3 years.
I’ve read a couple of parenting books and observed that most of the apparently grumpy parents I know are in fact actually pretty happy about their circumstances.
I’m starting to see the situation less as a net loss and to consider the many ways in which this is going to enhance and enrich our lives.
I’m not sure how effectively Law Schools prepare students to transition from academia to professional practice, but that is undoubtedly their intention. The goal is that over a 9 month period you are given some of the tools you will need to thrive in a completely different environment. I’m sure the same can be said of various professional qualifications, many of which seem to last about 9 months – presumably because it’s long enough for you to learn some meaningful lessons but short enough to retain a sense of urgency.
I suppose this is how I feel about becoming a parent. I’m sure that I’ll look back and laugh at how naive and unprepared I was. It would be ridiculous to say that I’m ready, but it’s starting to feel like I’m getting there.
So there we are. I’m sorry ladies. I’m glad pregnancy lasts 9 months.