September 27, 2006
The Royal We
I have never quite understood the quaint modern way men describe the state of expecting a baby with their wife, namely, "We're pregnant." Sort of the royal "we." I have been further amazed that their wives have not turned around and belted them or at least corrected the subject of the sentence. But then again these poor women are probably too weakened by the fact that they have not been able to keep anything down except saltines for days.
Twenty-first century couples can split the rent, take turns making dinner, and flip for who gets to be on top, but only one of them can actually carry the baby. Arnold Schwarzenegger aside, men cannot get pregnant. If they did then paternity suits would be male maternity clothing, and the notion that you could tell someone in the midst of labor pains to "just breathe," would be thrown out the window.
Some men, however, have strange reactions to the sole attention being placed on their pregnant wives. One woman found after numerous doctor visits that her husband felt left out of the medical attention and after her blood pressure was checked asked the nurse if she would check his as well. Turns out it was a little high but still within the range of normal.
Well, the next day when he went out to get groceries she got the panicked phone call from Pavilions (uncertain of where his newfound love of grocery shopping came from). Apparently, Pavilions has installed blood pressure monitors next to the frozen food aisle and his was again registering high, although he admitted when he first came in it had registered low. Double dipping at the blood pressure machine. She tried to reassure him that perhaps coin operated medical equipment was not reliable yet he remained panicked. "Just breathe," she told him, and sure enough on the third try it was normal and he was good to go.
She figured now the attention could go back to her, especially as the baby was in the wrong position and they were trying to figure out ways to get it turned. But then he discovered a brown spot on his arm and became convinced it was cancerous. Well, he trotted off to get a full body screen (luckily he had very good insurance) and wouldn't you know, there was a slightly discolored spot that was suspicious and suggested to be biopsied — in between his toes. She thought this was odd as this area never saw the light of day.
"That's why toe skin cancer is one of the deadliest," he explained, "because it goes undetected."
"Well," she answered as she shuffled around with her big belly to care for him in his bedridden state, "Since you've gotten it early, you'll probably just lose the foot." He, of course, turned out to be toe skin cancer-free, and went out to Pavilions to celebrate.
The medical community has documented cases of sympathy pains or symptoms and viewing some fathers-to-be, protruding bellies and rounding faces can be due to weight gain as well. The first story of a pregnant man came out of early modern Spain, "El Parto de Juan Rana" (John Frog Gives Birth) which arose from the changing role of men who were becoming more medically involved in childbirth, which was formerly a purely female domain. So as fathers become not only more involved in caring for the baby but in participating in the pregnancy, throwing around words like fully effaced, cervical plug, and Fetal Fibronectin, it is not surprising that they would start experiencing things on the physical level as well.
So to the modern male, hang in there. Get educated and make an effort to understand and support your wife through the process. And if things get really tough, remember . . . "just breathe."
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