The day I found out my wife was pregnant, I had just landed back from a business trip to Singapore. My phone was turned off during the flight and when I turned it back on, it was to about a dozen missed calls from the wife (never a good sign) and a barrage of messages. All the messages said were: “I’m in the hospital. Pack me some clothes and bring it over.”
I had no idea what was going on. My wife was generally healthy. She had complained about cramps recently but it did not seem like it would warrant a trip to the emergency room.
I rushed from the airport back home, then from home to the hospital with my wife’s things. As soon as I entered the emergency room, it seemed like a hush fell over the ward. The nurses had their eyes on me as I hastily said my wife’s name and they wordlessly pointed me in her direction.
I passed my mother-in-law on the way in and she gave me a little smirk. I quickly pulled back the curtain to find my wife in the hospital bed crying. She didn’t have to say a word. I just knew she was pregnant from the look on her face. That was the start of my journey as a father. It was the start of me deeply thinking about the husbands role during pregnancy.
Husbands role during pregnancy: The first scan we had ever done of the baby at five weeks of gestational age
The husbands role during pregnancy: How to be more involved
Long story short, my wife’s cramps were due to an unstable start to the pregnancy. From then on, we were always on high alert. My wife religiously took her medication and started on some crucial prenatal vitamins. She watched what she ate. She cut out all caffeine and alcohol. And she stopped going to spin classes and engaging in other strenuous activities.
But on my end, all I could do was watch. And support.
With a full-time job that I had just started, I couldn’t make it to all the prenatal check-ups with her. But she made sure to update me every time she went for a scan or a routine check-up.
At 18 weeks we found out we were having a boy.
She felt the baby kick for the first time around 18 weeks. But I initially shrugged it off and told her maybe she needed to take a dump!
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we were lying in bed and she said, “Hey, he’s kicking really hard!” I put my hand on her belly, desperate to feel the kick. And at that moment, I felt it for the first time. It was a moment I will never forget.
This became our usual nighttime routine. My wife would get into bed by 10:30PM, just in time for the baby to start kicking at 11PM. He would kick and kick and kick. He would be most active just as my wife was winding down for bed.
His kicks grew stronger and more frequent by the day.
Then one day, I got a message that scared me. I was at work busy with my emails and I got a text from my wife saying that the baby had not kicked in a while.
At the very start, I wasn’t sure what to think. I thought to myself, maybe the baby’s just sleeping.
Then, the intervals got longer, and I began to worry. Many thoughts ran through my head. My first instinct was to head to Google and learn all I could about baby kick cycles.
But there were so many different articles stating what a “normal” kick frequency is supposed to be, which did not help at all.
Thankfully, he started kicking later in the day. But again, the frequency was still so low that I felt something was off. My wife was still trying to play it cool, saying that she wanted to have dinner first.
After dinner, she insisted on taking a shower. As soon as she got out, I got her hospital bag and said, let’s go. She was 25 weeks pregnant.
As the nurses and doctors were running checks on her, I remember Googling “delivery at 25 weeks” and “will a baby born at 25 weeks survive”. These worst-case scenarios ran through my head.
My wife’s hospital band
After what felt like hours of checks, the doctor finally came out around 1AM to let me know that my wife and baby were both doing fine. They had taken swabs and the results would only be out in the morning.
They had my wife strapped up to a fetal heart rate monitor and I could clearly hear my baby’s heartbeat. 162 beats per minute, a healthy heartbeat, the doctor said.
I went home to get some rest and returned in the morning. The doctor presented us with the diagnosis — my wife had a yeast infection and a urinary tract infection. Even though she showed none of the symptoms, the baby’s lack of kicks confirmed that he was in fact, affected by these infections and was signaling for help. My wife stayed in the hospital for six days to be treated, and after the third day, the baby’s kicks were back to normal.
Why we counted kicks to begin with
What is the husbands role during pregnancy? It’s to support her through thick and thin. Here we are, a week away from the delivery at our baby shower.
As a first-time parent and especially a dad, you don’t get a lot of advice about pregnancy. You hear statements like, “Oh, get your sleep now because you won’t get it when the baby comes.” Or “Massage your wife’s feet when they are swollen.” But you don’t get real, proper advice on how to really support your wife through the pregnancy.
What is really important, what parents should be telling other parents is this: Count your baby’s kicks. It’s important. One less kick could actually mean something is wrong and your baby is in distress.
We would not have known about kick counting if the nurses at my wife’s check-ups did not stress its importance. We would have not counted kicks if my wife herself was not well-versed in pregnancy (from working at an AWESOME parenting company) and knew what fewer kicks could lead to.
More than anything, we are glad that we did not wait to let the infection spread to the baby. We are glad that we listened to my wife’s instincts and later on, my nagging which got her to the hospital earlier rather than later. We are glad that we played the part of kiasi parents and counted every kick there was to count.
So my advice to first-time, or even second- or third-time dads is this: Get more involved with your wife’s pregnancy and count every kick. It could make a huge difference.
Author: Tim Danker