We just found out we're expecting our first, and I'm overjoyed! The only problem is that my husband isn't very excited. What's his problem?
Armin Brott answers
The short answer to your questions is, "Nothing -- he's a guy!" As flip as it sounds, it's actually very true. The two of you are going to be on a very similar psychological journey while you're pregnant. You'll both experience a huge variety of feelings, emotions, worries and joys, all of which follow a basic progression from beginning to end. But you won't be going through the same things at the same time. Your husband -- like most men -- is generally one trimester behind.
Keep in mind that you have plenty of physical reminders (some more pleasant that others) that you're pregnant. He has none of that. For most men, pregnancy for the first trimester is a pretty abstract concept. He may have had a few brief moments of being thrilled when you first found out (after all, it's confirmation that he's a fully functional male), but the whole idea is so hard to grasp that many guys actually forget about it for a few days at a time.
As the pregnancy progresses, though, he'll gradually come around. But he may still keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. He may be afraid of a miscarriage or some other tragedy and doesn't want to allow himself to get excited only to have his hopes dashed.
You both can expect a jolt of reality when you hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. Even though it doesn't sound anything like a real heart at all (more like a fast hoosh-hoosh-hoosh), somehow, having the doctor tell him that it's a real heartbeat -- and a healthy one at that -- will be mighty reassuring. Reality will sink in even further when you get to do some toe -- and finger counting on the first ultrasound.
Here's a rough comparison of where the two of you will be psychologically at various stages of the pregnancy:
Excited, distracted, some apprehension about the future, some worries about miscarriage, concerns about the baby's health and safety.
Brief excitement, then flat line for a while. The whole thing is just too abstract to grasp.
Turning inward. Decreasing worries about things going wrong with the pregnancy, but more worries about how the pregnancy is changing your body. You'll be a little self-absorbed and more concerned about practical things: Are you going to be a good mother? Can you afford this? Will you go back to work? When? You may be looking for role models and could develop a deeper bond with your mother.
Excited, distracted, some apprehension about the future. Worries about miscarriage, the health and safety of your baby and you. Feeling left out and jealous of all the attention you're getting.
Focusing on him. More dependent on him, needing confirmation that he loves you, that he finds you attractive, that he's not going to abandon you and the baby, that he's going to be an involved dad.
Turning inward. Less worried about health and safety, more concerned with practical things: What kind of dad is he going to be? Where will he find role models? How can he possibly afford this, especially if you quit or take a few months (or years) off work? How will this affect his life? Will he ever be able to balance work and family?