I’m not gonna lie. The first time around, I found it pretty strange to ‘connect’ to my unborn child, during the entire pregnancy, which was roughly two years ago. The first few months, there is nothing. My wife didn’t look very pregnant. She said she felt different, but I didn’t notice much of it. She had an easy pregnancy. Yet, she felt very much pregnant, and very much a mother in the making. As a father in those stages, there’s just very little that connects you to the child. For nine months I have been telling stories to her belly, hoping that the child would hear me and hoping that it would one day punch or kick in response. I’m a bit silly like that. A true response to my endeavours never came. But there were some random movements that I got to feel, albeit only from week 25 or so. I also wanted to prepare a baby room, even though we didn’t have a baby room – so I never did. My wife was the opposite, and did not want to prepare until eight months in.
One thing that really made it feel real to me, were the visits to the midwife practice, where we got to see real-time footage of our child. He was so beautiful. Sometimes he would wiggle from side to side. So cute. It brought tears to my eyes. I have always wanted to be a father. Seeing my 12 week-old son wiggle on a black and white screen was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Seeing the outlines of the skull. The black cavity that contains the brain. The little spine. The strange pot belly. Extremities that looked like useless little worms. It was so perfect. I think I joined my wife for every occasion. It made me feel like a father.
We’re now in week 24 of the second pregnancy. This time around, everything is totally different.
First of all, the pregnancy, especially the first couple of months, has been tougher on my wife. It was immediately evident that she was pregnant. She seemed to be either nauseous or hungry (followed by nausea) for about three straight months. She is great now. She’s a rockstar.
Secondly, I have had ZERO connection with the baby for the first 23 weeks. Literally nothing… Having to juggle work and our toddler and hence having a bit less time, I have skipped the excessive singing to the belly this time. (I have since learned that it takes developing babies a while before they experience foreign stimuli, so that may have played a role too) Due to Covid-19, I have not been allowed to join for any of the baby checks. Luckily they allowed my wife to go… Our practice is very poor at taking good shots, so every time my wife returned from those check-ups, I hoped to see a nice baby shape, but somehow the cross-sectional photographs were always poorly positioned, and it looked like something was really off. (The doctor assured my wife that everything was very much okay, so they’re probably right) It sucks though. I have felt even less connected than the first time around.
Until last week! My wife called for me, and told me the baby was moving. And moving it was. It was even visible from the outside!
I placed my hand on her belly, and it took a good thirty seconds or so, but then it happened. SMACK! A full-on high five.