As you’d expect, most of the books about pregnancy and being a new parent are written for women. If you’re lucky, the dad gets a passing mention – “make sure he helps with the housework!” – but most of the time you don’t even get that. Maybe it’s because dads aren’t interested; more likely, it’s that dads are just expected to get on with it.
And that’s a shame, because imminent fatherhood is really bloody scary. You worry about all kinds of things, from big things – will I bond with the baby? – to really big things, such as whether you’ll ever go to the pub again (yes!) and at whether it’s still acceptable to ogle Girls Aloud when your very pregnant partner is feeling rubbish (no!). But to the authors of “so, you’re going to have a baby!” books, none of that matters. Those books are for mums, not you.
Hurrah, then, for Fatherhood: The Truth by Marcus Berkmann. I’m not just recommending it because it’s very (often brutally) honest; I’m recommending it because it made me laugh like a drain. The following bit’s typical:
All new fathers are obsessed with not dropping the baby. I have never seen this mentioned in any of the books, but it’s our overwhelming concern. Most of us have never held a newborn baby before. Most of us have fled the house rather than hold a newborn baby. But you can’t avoid holding your own.
So what if you do drop it? First, you will establish whether or not it bounces.
If that makes the book sound rather laddish, it’s not. It’s actually a very warm and sympathetic look at fatherhood from conception to the first birthday party, and it answers all the questions you might have (including the ones you’re too scared/embarrassed to ask other people).
It won’t change your life – that’s the baby’s job – but it’ll give you a much better idea of what to expect, how to cope with it and how to deal with Competitive Dads.