Whether you’ve read the book or not, most of us are familiar with the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – the mild-mannered individual who takes a potion and is awarded the addition of a new personality with psychopathic mood and tendencies. I’m sorry to say that this sums up pregnancy – and us guys supplied the potion.
I suppose if you were to take one thing from this article, it’s that she doesn’t mean it. Mood is strictly variable at this point. It might be better for you, or it might be worse, but here are a few pregnancy-paradoxials I was handed during Kathryn’s pregnancy:
- I’m not sure if I love you any more
- I love you so much
- I don’t feel anything between us
- We’re closer than ever aren’t we? (enter the Bateman smile…)
- I don’t want you near me
- You never come near me any more
- I want my surname on the birth certificate, what if you do a runner?
- Of course I want her to have your surname!
- I’m registering the birth on my own
- You’re not letting me go on my own are you?
Yup, hardly a gentle gestation eh?
I knew there would be ups and downs, but I didn’t expect it to be like riding bareback on a square-wave. I stuck with her though, because I’m a nice guy, and because I’d already started looking at engagement rings (that’s a whole post in itself though). Us guys often shrug this off as “her hormones”, and that’s factual thinking, but it isn’t in the spirit of a supporting father-to-be.
Why the mood swings?
No really, it’s more complicated than that. As I’ve mentioned, the hormones are the root cause of the mood swings, baby-brain forgetfulness (her brain literally shrinks) and, in some cases, depression. You have to understand though that they play a vital part in preparing her body for nurturing the baby during the 9-months it’s held hostage, it’s just nature’s sick joke that they manifest in such a manic fashion.
I remember one Saturday morning, Kathryn was around 4 months’ pregnant and she had (uncharacteristically) planned the day beforehand. She was to go and look at second-hand furniture (from some recently deceased guy no less) for our room with her mum, and this was 100% absolutely her plan. I, not giving a shit about being a circling furniture-vulture, had made plans for us to go and visit my parents. She was in the midst of that 2-hour dead zone in the day where she has a shower and does hair and makeup when I brought this social faux-pas of a double booking up.
No problem, right? Wrong. Problem.
After I’d mentioned it Kathryn carried on as normal, she was drying her hair as I glanced at her. In the space it took me to look down, realise I could no longer comfortably fasten my belt at the last hole (sympathy bump!) and mutter “shit” to myself, Kathryn had stopped drying her hair and was sitting on the floor with her head in her hands.
“What’s up? Are you ok?” I asked, semi-urgently.
“Nothing, I’m ok, I really wanted to look at furniture today”.
Either she noticed the absolute bewildered look on my face, or she realised how ridiculous this was at once, and burst out laughing. It’s a strange thing to see a person laughing and crying at the same time, it sent my empathy compass spinning uncontrollably.
“Ha, you sure you’re ok sweetheart? Do you want a cup of tea?”
Her laugh dwindled. “Shit” I thought, for the second time in 40 seconds. Her face lingered between a laugh and a cry and I could see the internal battle raging between her hormones and her sense of reality. Hormones won by a long shot and she burst out crying again.
“I’ll erm…I’ll leave you to it” I said as I walked backwards towards the bedroom door – I wasn’t about to take my eyes off her and get a can of hair spray lodged in my skull. I came up shortly after with a cup of tea and she was dry-eyed, makeup touched up and acting completely normally. It crossed my mind that I was imagining it.
Tips on handling the mood swings
I can’t say I know of any hard and fast rule that will protect you, but a mixture of genuine care and affection, and some sweetening-up gifts will prolong the ups and maybe sway an undecided mood to a good one. Also, and this is a risky one, I found that sometimes it was better to leave her be (like in the case above).
To be honest, I think the gifts had this effect because they showed I cared and I understood – I’m not sure hormones can be bought out that easily! Every few weeks I’d buy her a magazine, chocolates, flowers or bath bombs – anything I thought she’d want or appreciate, and anything that would keep her as Dr Jekyll and not Mr Hyde. At the end of the day, just don’t push your luck. Be understanding and take the flak for whatever you have to. You get to sit back and not have any physical changes during the whole pregnancy (outside of the odd projectile-damage and the sympathy bump).
Oh, and lose any argument you get trapped into!
Also, ladies, if you’re reading this then don’t feel too guilty!