I’m not really an attention-seeker. Okay, that’s a lie; I like getting double takes just as much as the next gay. Anyway, here we are at 28 weeks pregnant. My focus should be on my surrogate – our very close friend who is doing this for the second time for us – since she is waddling and panting and grunting her way into the third and final trimester, bless her heart.
But what about me? For the last two weeks I’ve inexplicably bounced between constipation and what seems like a wide-open faucet. If you’ve ever prepped for a colonoscopy you know exactly what I’m talking about. Enough said.
I’ve had nausea so bad that I cannot sleep despite being unreasonably fatigued. Even without the nausea I’m suffering from insomnia, watching the clock tick past midnight and 1 am and 2 am most nights before I finally get taken away to sleepland. My appetite has been up and down, mostly down. Even so, my weight has reached an all-time high of 166 pounds, despite substituting a Slim Fast shake for my normal breakfast cereal while maintaining or even upping my normal excessive exercising habits.
I’m having back pain and some never-before knee joint pain. Headaches are making me grouchy. I’m over-the-top excited in one moment, and then down in the dumps the next. What’s going on?
I got right on the internet to google my ailments, and I come to find out I am not alone. I can put a name on my list of problems: Couvade syndrome, which is also known as sympathetic pregnancy, male pregnancy experience, or pregnant dad syndrome. Expectant fathers can have pregnancy symptoms too, and except for the absence of enlarging breasts, I have a mild case as is discussed in various papers and studies on the topic. In extreme cases, daddies can grow a belly similar to a 7-month pregnant woman and gain weight up to 30 pounds!
Now that I learned what, I needed to learn why. I have not heard many of my expectant father friends complaining about these issues. It turns out, as I read a few studies of this otherwise poorly understood syndrome, that a huge percentage of men (at least 92% that is) experiencing some Couvade symptoms report a deep emotional involvement with the pregnancy. Two likely suspects of my ailments are stress and empathy. Stress releases chemicals in the body, such as cortisol, that can wreak havoc. Do I have stress with a third son arriving in the next 12 weeks? What do you think?
My empathy is strong as well, after hormone injections and sperm donations and doctor’s appointments, worrying constantly about how my friend is doing throughout this entire ordeal, how my husband is holding up, and how the boys are going to adjust to the addition to our family. Fortunately, it sounds like in almost every case all symptoms seem to disappear immediately after birth.
So will my Slim Fast and sweat pants.