Pregnant Man: How Nature Makes Fathers Out of Men
Gordon Churchwell his a problem he's never faced before—his wife, Julie, is pregnant.
"What is happening to me? It's 6:30 A.M. My Wife is peeing on what looks like a scale model of the spaceship from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's an early pregnancy test called something like First Alert, or Early Response, some name that sounds like a smoke detector or a piece of EMS equipment."
From this unavoidable physiological fact follows the greatest psychological crisis of his life, a story that eventually illuminates the journey of all men and women as they make the passage to becoming parents.
What really goes through a "pregnant" man's mind? Combining his personal story with interviews with doctors, midwives, evolutionary scientists, and other fathers-to-be, Gordon Churchwell delivers the gritty, intimate details, as well as important new information, in an irreverent style that mixes poignancy, wit, and laugh-out-loud humor.
He covers all the issues without flinching. On relationships: "There are moments when you are not just individuals trying to solve a personal problem, but representatives of your gender, acting out some social drama. Over Julie's shoulder I see a chorus of angry women. . . ."
On sex: "While the party line is that Julie remains 'my beautiful partner to whom I am devoted,' to Mr. Weenie, she is beginning to look like Danny DeVito in Batman Returns. . . ."
On why men find change difficult: "Why do I feel like a bystander in the most important 280 days of my life? Where are the stories that make a man feel like he's in it, and not out of it? The answer is simple. When it comes to the stories of fatherhood, our culture has discarded them."
When he starts having morning sickness, Churchwell turns science detective and makes some startling discoveries: He finds out that male pregnancy symptoms are extremely common and uncovers evidence of a physiological paternal response-men have hormonal changes, too, which help prepare them emotionally for fatherhood.
Does nature make fathers out of men? Working with a leading evolutionary psychologist, Churchwell argues for a revolutionary new perspective on a man's role in reproduction. Parental investment on both sides is not automatic. Pregnancy behavior is part of a continual process of negotiation about parental commitment. A man's response to pregnancy, including sympathetic symptoms, may signal his plans about investing in the child. His behavior can directly affect the mother's own response, including the quality of her maternal care.
By showing that men have a physiological transformation of their own that integrates them into the biology of the family, Churchwell restores men to the story of reproduction.
Expecting is an important contribution to the new literature of fatherhood that will amuse and inspire men and women as they transform themselves into parents. This personal story ends where it began, with him and his wife, Julie, struggling-this time as a team-through a harrowing thirty-five-hour birth ordeal, and welcoming their daughter, Olivia, into the world.