Fortunately, my wife had a bout of chronic stomach pain a couple of weeks after we found out she was pregnant. One night she woke up in excruciating pain and I knew at once that we had to get to hospital. About eight sleepless hours and all manner of pain meds— from aspirin to horse tranquilizer—later, she dozed in a ward just off the emergency room, with me curled up on my coat on the floor nearby.
I term this most horrid event as “fortunate” because every cloud has a silver lining. The next week a couple came around for dinner. Almost as soon as the wife saw Mrs. J was clinking glasses with an orange juice rather than wine, a knowing smile crossed her face. She looked at us both and then, through a cock-eyed grin, pried, “Is there something you’re not telling us?”
“Yes,” I blurted out. Mrs. J looked aghast but I carried on boldly. “We spent last weekend in hospital because my lovely wife had the most vile stomach pains and almost puked herself inside out!” Not the answer she’d been looking for, but at least all questioning of Mrs. J not drinking alcohol was put to rest.
That night as we lay in bed, she looked at me through narrowed eyes and said: “Don’t you ever almost tell everyone that I’m pregnant without pre-warning me. I almost popped the sprog there and then!” And so began the lies. Over the following weeks the tummy-trouble incident served us well as an explanation about her sudden aversion to alcohol. It is testament to our increasingly elaborate renditions of the severity of the ailment that they believed us, given Mrs. J’s usual penchant for a nice glass of red.
Trips to the hospital (we had a few) raised a few eyebrows amongst the mostly female staff at her work, but they assumed the worst rather than the best, so we just let them carry on thinking she had come down with some life-threatening disease. As long as they didn’t assume she was pregnant, it was all OK.
Holding it in
These first 12 weeks are possibly the worst for the dad-to-be. They are mind-numbingly painful because “We’re having a baby!” is some of the most happy news you can tell anyone—from mother to fishing buddy. But for three whole months you can’t actually unleash this tsunami of joy, you have to keep it secret, like some penance for doing the dirty deed in the first place.
My mom called for her weekly chat. “Any news?” she asked. I wondered, Does she know? Can she sense it down the phone line? Irrational panic set in. “Your Dad’s been golfing again,” she continued, and the hair on the back of my neck sat slowly back into place. “Oh yes, your cousin’s had a baby, did I tell you?” Up they went again. It’s not fair.
The dam finally bursts
Bottling up the news makes you want to explode, so, if the tension gets too much, my advice is to tell someone who has no connection with friends or family whatsoever. Travel to a distant town and tell a stranger. Call a random number from the phone book and try to blurt it out before they hang up!
Me? I told the editor of a magazine overseas that I write for. Yes, someone 4,000 miles away. I’ve never met him, we’ve only spoken a couple of times but we email regularly. So I just popped it on the bottom of one of them and waited…and waited, I’d forgotten about the time difference. Six hours later, but about five minutes after he’d gotten to work he called full of congratulations. The relief was enormous.
Apart from this one pressure release, I was coping well as the 12 weeks passed. I was even enjoying spinning convoluted yarns to tease Mrs. J. The trouble was, her body was working against me. She was inadvertently giving away big clues in a form that no red- blooded male could fail to miss.
Someone finally and quite literally got abreast of the situation one night over dinner. Our friend, an eagle-eyed, overly familiar singleton, came out and asked “Are your boobs getting bigger? You’ve either had ’em done or you’re pregnant,” he grinned.
“We’re going to have a baby!” we both sang gleefully. There it was; the news out there for all to hear. Eleven and three quarter weeks and we’d told someone. Now all we’d have to do was tell everyone else before someone got upset hearing it through the grapevine!
I called my mom first.
— Will Jones