There is no planning multiples. Let’s just get that out of the way. Unless you go into coitus with some voodoo fertility charm necklace hanging from your neck, there isn’t much of a way to know. Sure, some go through in-vitro fertilization aware of the possibility, but for the most part, this is where Mother Nature reigns supreme in her ability to throw a curveball.
For my family, twins came after what can only be best described as ‘testing fate’. A bottle of tequila and a location aptly named Pleasure Beach provided more than enough magic to create a two-for-one deal in my future wife’s uterus. Our story isn’t important right now, and over the course of this column I will intertwine bits and pieces, but this is more about what happens with news of multiples. More importantly, this is about the male perspective, which, when looking at the Internet, expectant fathers are sorely lacking. This column is less how to change a diaper and more how not to fall into panic attack after panic attack.
If you are anything like me, upon hearing the news that multiple tenants were renting out Motel Mama, you put on the song There Goes My Life by Kenny Chesney. Then you listened to it on repeat as you stared at a grainy image an ultrasound technician handed you.
Okay, maybe that is a little over the top, but you get the gist. Our first ultrasound pictures looked less like children and more like a guy dropped his pants and threw his cajones onto the doctor’s office copy machine.
The most important thing to do is breathe. Deep breaths in and out. There is a lot with the news. Suddenly, the family you planned becomes a one a plus one plus one. The pregnancy begins to look less like What To Expect When You’re Expecting and more like the movie Aliens.
As men, we like to take the role of ‘The Rock’. No, not Dwayne Johnson, although we might try to act as tough as a wrestler-turned-tooth fairy. We want to be there, strong for our babies-to-be and the woman carrying them. Sometimes in taking this role we forget if we don’t decompress ourselves then we are helping no one, least of all our future offspring.
Lame, right? Just breathe, he says. Next, he will have us doing downward dog as he plays Peruvian windpipes and asks us if we have found our center chakra.
It is the truth, as lame as it may come off. To be the best spouse, father, lover, person who grabs the jar of pickles she is craving at midnight, Rock, you need to make sure you are good yourself. Yes, she is carrying the babies, but it leaves you attempting to carry all the emotional baggage like a bellhop at The Ritz.
To put it simply, it ain’t worth it. There is no amount of pretending to make you ready for the months ahead, let alone the years of fatherhood after that.
It can be exhausting holding back to put on your ‘man face’. Now, more than any other time, it is important to figure out how not to suffocate under the weight of your new life.
So, as simple and possibly lame as it sounds, breathe deep breaths. A lot of scary terms get thrown out during pregnancy, high-risk being one of them. There will come a lot of times over the next few months you might feel helpless, and that’s okay.
Some insider trading info for you.
Between paint swatches and the baby registry, there is too much time in your head. Try to be educated, but not reading so much that it scares you into the fetal position while grabbing midnight craving food for your pregnant woman.
Talk to other dads. There are a surprising amount of other fathers out there. Go figure, right? Apparently it usually takes two to tango AND two to make babies. Connect with them. Ask them about fatherhood. Get their insider trading info.
Everyone’s experience is unique, so there is no written handbook for exactly your situation. This means, take every piece of advice (including mine) with a grain of salt. This is your time to roll with the punches, Rocky.
Decompressing doesn’t mean leaving momma home alone to eat chocolates and stare in the mirror at her ever-growing belly. Yes, take time for your own health. This is the calm before the storm, and you are the lighthouse, buddy. The port needs you there on the stormy nights.
Your future holds some of the most trying times you will ever experience. Being a father of multiples is a whole new animal a lot of people don’t know. It is also an amazing ride. You are going to learn it, just like fathers before you did and fathers after you will. You got this, even if you don’t know it yet.
Everyone will tell you of some random person they know who has as many babies as you are going to have. Get used to it. It never ends. Ever.
And again, most importantly, BREATHE.
Briton Underwood, better known as Punk Rock Papa, is a parent above all else. When he gets sick of being at his kids’ beck and call, he likes to escape to his Facebook page or website. He writes about any and everything he wants, but mainly about his twin boys or his newest addition—another boy. He also would like the world to know he has a beautiful wife because the couch isn’t that comfy.