I inherited a stack of pregnancy books from my sister-in-law and I’ve been reading through them. You know the ones. All the shiny million-copies-sold tomes telling me what to expect and nuggets of week by week information. Important stuff, right?
They’re driving me crazy. Forget for a moment that they mainly seem to exist to scare pregnant women to death (one in particular has a section in each chapter called “How Your Actions Affect Your Baby this Week”). The main take-home seems to be that if I’m not careful, some unpasteurized cheese is going to crawl into my mouth while I’m sleeping and my baby will be born with three heads.
Fear mongering aside, pregnancy books seem to be written on the premise that all fetuses are carried by straight, married women. Furthermore, not only are they straight and married, they’re married to idiots.
“Dad Tip: It is important to know what your partner is talking about as she talks to you about her pregnancy. If she uses terms you don’t understand, ask her to explain them.”
Or, you know. Read the rest of the book you’re holding in your hands.
There’s also this undercurrent of assumption that all women do all the household labour and now need their husbands to wake up and pick up some slack. They all talk about this! There’s some variation on “how to get your husband to pick up a dish once in a while” in just about every book I’ve read. I especially like this one:
“Dad Tip: Is your partner suffering from morning sickness? If so, cooking can be a real chore for her. Just looking at food or smelling it can make her feel sick. To help out, bring home your dinner, or cook it yourself. Sometimes it’s the only way you’ll get any food!”
Well, that’s not insulting at all. This infuriates me on Lauren’s behalf, partly because she has to read “Dad Tips” to find any info whatsoever on being a non-gestational expecting parent, and mostly because she has done absolutely everything in her power to make pregnancy as easy on me as possible. We already split the household chores pretty fairly (with Lauren probably coming in on the hero’s side of things at the best of times), but that woman cooked for me for eight weeks without a peep during the worst of the morning sickness and did most everything else besides. And I don’t think that’s because we’re queer…I suspect that there are plenty of straight men out there who know enough to get their gagging partners out of the kitchen. They can’t enjoy reading that stuff either.
I know that I do this to myself, that I don’t HAVE to read the books. But I want to know when my kid grows ears as much as the next person, you know?