COLUMN: Five ways for men to survive the OB/GYN's office
THIS is what it feels like to be an outsider.
I'm not even really meant to be here. Noone will kick me out, of course, they're much too polite for that.
But this is the inner-sanctum, a world of pastel colours, abstract paintings that hint at the rounds of the female form.
There is soft music.
The air is gently fragranced, probably by some exotically flavoured candle with a fancy name: Exotic Amazonian Tulip.
I'm at the obstetrician's office with my wife.
Early on in our (her) pregnancy, my wife was told that our bub would face a riskier adventure from womb to room. That means extra scans.
So week after week after week for the first few months of our pregnancy, I became this oversized, bearded wallflower looking at his phone in the calming purgatory of the OB's waiting room.
Now with my wife passing the halfway mark in this pregnancy, I've now picked up a few things.
Things that I had knew nothing about before I put on this heavy crown of father-to-be.
1. Trim your beard, iron your shirt, it's time to be a trophy husband
Women have views on things. For reasons I don't understand, the OB's office amplifies the competition that women feel with each other.
Maybe it's because pregnancy and motherhood are those things that leave women racked with guilt.
With that in mind, if you're going to play the roles of Super Trophy Husband and Attentive Father, you have to be careful.
You will feel their eyes: "Why isn't he at work? Maybe he's unemployed".
"My husband/boyfriend/partner would be here too if they weren't so successful."
Do your best not to look like your next stop isn't by Centrelink to pick up your dole cheque, and you'll be fine.
2. Don't make any jokes about pregnancy unless you want to get The Eye.
Sure it sounds bizarre when grown human beings start talking about lotus or hypno births, natural births or their views on drugs.
That does not make it OK for you to talk loudly about "if it was me carrying this thing, I'd treat it like a root canal. Plenty of drugs and just yank it outta there".
My wife didn't laugh. Yours probably won't either.
In a room of human ovens baking future humans, best not to provoke them.
3. There is no normal. Don't say normal. Normal may be the worst word you can say.
There is nothing more offensive to pregnant women than the suggestion they, their pregnancy or their future bub is anything other than normal.
Nothing is normal, because anything that's not that thing would have to be not normal.
This is a trap stumbled in mostly by men who have no idea what the hell is going on.
A woman's vaginal birth is no more normal or abnormal than a woman who delivers via cesarian or by the Magical Pygmy Princesses of the Greater Atlantis, or whatever.
If they are happy and a baby arrives safe and healthy, all is right with the world.
If you call into question anything relating to how a baby is born, not only are you probably a jerk, but a group of angry women will materialise and pull you limb from limb.
4. You thought you were a key part of all this? Not here you're not.
My OB's office feels like a strange place to me. Sure babies are created by some kind of combo of semen and eggs, but the man's role in this equation feels almost hidden.
It's probably because the man's role in all this is so fraught with danger.
Maybe the man's no longer in the picture. Maybe the expecting mother never wanted him in the damn picture anyway.
Maybe it was a one night stand or maybe she's freshly divorced and the status with the father is murky at best?
Best not to dwell on it.
But for you as Attentive Guy, expect no brochures on what you're meant to do, think, read, experience. Expect mostly notes on antenatal yoga, the words "natural" or "organic".
But don't expect the word 'Dad'.
5. Don't expect anyone to listen to your complaining about this
I know, it's weird.
But I'm not spending months on the verge of vomiting just because the universe decided women are the only ones suited to carry children.
If you take pleasure in not being nauseous, in still enjoying seafood and occasionally booze then take this one in stride.
For extra points, probably best not to remind your pregnant wife of all the things she's missing out on. That tends to make her angry.
And if there's one thing I can pass on, it's that dealing with an overheating oven is a sure-fire way to get burned.
Probably best not to call her an oven either.
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Owen Jacques is an award-winning journalist, APN Australian Regional Media Online News Editor and publisher of The Hairy Chest.
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