I’ve been reading up on how to deal with pregnancy from a man’s point of view. Before anybody starts in, the book I’m reading, The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-To-Be, has told me to stand up and let myself be heard. Apparently, my feelings are important, too.
This book, and every expectant father website I’ve been to, has addressed an important topic that I’d never heard of: sympathetic response to physical and mental pains that the mother is experiencing. The man will actually suffer similar aches, pains and anguish. It’s called couvade, supposedly from the French, meaning “to hatch”. I’m dubious, but a simple search on Google yields a shiteload of links. Finally, a psychosomatic illness that I can back up with data. Like any good U.S. citizen, I’m turning it into a verb, pronto.
Since reading about this, every single feeling, thought and pain has been lumped into this category. I’m constantly checking in with the mother-to-be, asking her if she’s feeling this, feeling that or feeling like she wants to smack me upside the head because I’m not the one with the expanding thorax. Example dialogue:
“Dude, I’m totally couvading right now.”
“. . .”
“Dude. Seriously. I feel bloated.”
It is at this point I am given a look that says I need to stifle the whole business and just go about my little couvade in peace. It is also at this point that I bring up: In some cultures, women worked in the field, had the baby, then brought the baby home and took care of the sick husband.