They may not be going through hormonal ups and downs or watching their belly grow into a basketball, but dads-to-be have their own pregnancy journeys. We asked real papas to share what pregnancy feels like from their perspective.
1. Cut us some slack! We're emotional, too.
New York City dad Adam Cohen doesn't try to pretend he knows what it feels like to actually be pregnant, but the DaDaRocks blogger says that doesn't mean dads aren't dealing with a lot of intense emotions—just like expecting mothers. "There are a lot of questions we ask ourselves, starting with, 'Will I be a good dad?" he says. Cohen also says men tend to learn things as they go along, and they may take a little longer to figure things out than moms do. They are trying, though! "Never discount the fact that we're in this with you," he says.
2. We feel useless—and we hate it.
Dealing with mood swings and sympathy weight gain was no sweat for Las Vegas dad Giuliano O. Not knowing how to make his wife feel better was the hard part, he says. "We can't relate to a pregnancy as we would a cold or sprained ankle." (You're right about that, my friend!) And as much as Giuliano would have loved to make his wife's delivery easier, there wasn't much he could do, leaving him feeling powerless during one of life's most important moments. "You can't share the pain or take any of it from her, so you have to use different strengths to help her," he says, adding that staying right by his wife's side and supporting her as much as possible helped him alleviate some of his feelings of helplessness.
3. Watching you give birth is terrifying.
When it comes to describing what it was like watching his wife give birth, Michael C. of Montreal, Canada, has only one thing to say: "It was extremely scary!" Women may be the ones going through it, but a front row seat to your partner bringing a child into the world is pretty frightening. All Michael could do was watch it happen, offer verbal support, and try not to get freaked out by all the blood. While he commends women for going through the physical pain of delivery, he says men are going through some scary pain of the emotional variety. "And our feelings do count," he says.
- Related: What Dads Need to Know About Doulas
4. We have no clue how to handle mood swings.
Mood swings can be tough for both mothers- and fathers-to-be to handle. Santiago R. of Brisbane, Australia, says to remember men are new to this, too. "We don't have all the answers and skills to deal with pregnancy," he says. When mood swings hit, the men around us tend to bare the brunt of it, but it's important to remember they're learning what to do right along with us. On the plus side, Santiago says he learned a lot about patience and understanding.
5. Hormones are working against us.
For Clint Edwards, author of No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog, satisfying food cravings were a task he knew he'd almost never be able to complete successfully. When his wife was pregnant with their first child, she had a craving late at night for tacos with some mild sauce. Unfortunately, Taco Bell was all out. So the Oregon father-to-be picked up some sauce at a different taco chain. "I walked into the place, took a handful of sauce, and walked out. I felt like such a weirdo," he admits. Despite his effort, his wife cried when he came home. As any pregnant woman knows, there's no winner here. So go ahead and cry, but for future reference, ladies, just know that although they don't always come home with that exact thing you're craving, they're trying their best.
6. We love your pregnant body, but it's a little intimidating.
Dad Jon J. of Los Angeles thought his wife's baby bump was gorgeous. "And the breasts, oh, the breasts!" he recalls. So even though you may not feel like your swollen ankles and pregnancy waddle are sexy, chances are your man thinks you're just as desirable as ever—maybe even more so—and is totally down with your pregnancy libido. Of course, getting intimate with your changing body has a learning curve, he admits. "It's slightly awkward at first, but you make adjustments."
7. We're really trying to make it easier, we promise.
For new dad Mike N. of Las Vegas, sitting on the sidelines was tough. Being used to problem solving on his own in most situations made it difficult to be on the outside. As his partner's pregnancy progressed, he just wanted to help. But as we all know already, there isn't much anyone else can do to take away the hormonal imbalances or the pain of pregnancy and labor. "We go out of our way—at least I did—to ensure that we are doing everything we can to alleviate stress and discomfort," Mike says. "I'm not sure women realize just how much effort we put into trying to make it easier on them."