Nothing prepares you for the unpredictable journey that is pregnancy. From the moment your partner tells you congratulations, you do have some lead in the proverbial pencil after all (and the fact you’re going to be a dad, of course), it’s a rollercoaster
Last week I walked out of the maternity unit following our second scan – a three-hour marathon session – one of the most stressful/staggeringly beautiful experiences of my life.
As with everything on this rocky road of discovery, the two main scans – the first at 12 weeks and second at 20 weeks – are dropped on you with scant warning of how they will make you feel.
I aim this article at the many potential first-time dads out there, who are thinking of taking those first (baby) steps towards parenthood. This is an emotional business, fellas.
The 6 Emotions Every Dad Feels During The Baby Scan
The first trimester of the pregnancy is one of the best and worst parts of becoming a dad. The lead up to our 12-week scan was among the most stressful times of my life.
I remember vividly how I sat in that maternity unit waiting room, all sweaty-palmed and tense, my scrotum shrivelled to little more than a walnut.
Because that scan is a big deal. Up until this point, not one person – midwife or doctor – had confirmed 100% that we were pregnant, something I still couldn’t get my head around. There had been no pregnancy test – excluding the one done at home, which was so cheap I reckon I’d have tested positive after a heavy night on the beer – and this would be the first official “proof” that we were indeed with child.
The 20-week scan is different, but no less stressful. The sonographer checks every part of the anatomy to see if the baby has the correct number of everything, and to make sure it hasn’t inherited my misshapen… well, never you mind. They start with the head, measuring the dimensions, then work their way down the body to the feet, taking their time, I’m pretty sure just to stress me out (and tighten my balls) even more.
Massive Effing Relief
Don’t worry too much about that stress – a sense of relief rushes over you as soon as that ultrasound gun thingy slaps onto your partner’s tummy.
The moment that little head showed up on the screen in front of us, closely followed by an even smaller beating heart and the hint of little eyes and a dot of a nose, all was fine in the world. Until the tears started (see below).
Blubbing Like A Child
Make no mistake, these scans are brilliant. But immediately following the stress and relief came the tears. I realise I’m an overly sensitive guy (the final big dance number in Dirty Dancing gets me every time), but this was the first glimpse of our son or daughter – and it was utterly incredible.
I mean, three hours. Come on. It’s wondrous and everything, but some of us do have to get back to work this afternoon.
The tears of joy/boredom soon turn to excitement.
At the end of the 12-week scan, you’re given your accurate due date; at the end of 20-week scan, you’re offered the chance to know what sex your baby is. We chose to wait until it’s born to find out, but it’s still exciting to know that everything is starting to form and you’re over the hump of those uncertain first 20 weeks.
You also get your black-and-white scan photo, which you show everyone for about a fortnight before inevitably losing it.
Realising That You’ll Be Worrying For About 40 Years
Many people say you never really stop worrying about your kids – even after they’ve left home – but when do you start to worry? I’ll tell you when: the second you step out of that hospital.
Though going through the first pregnancy is a wonderful feeling, at least from a male perspective – which let’s be fair, is a doddle compared to what the mums go through – the panic has already set in.
We had a few issues following the 12-week scan, as we had to take further tests for various disabilities, but our tests came back fine. Still, it’s the first instance of what will surely be decades’ worth of worrying about our children and their wellbeing. But all the worry, stress and mental anguish will be nothing compared to the good stuff.
I really wouldn’t swap a moment from the past few months, and, as our journey towards parenthood continues past the halfway point, I can’t wait to see what the little one throws at us next.