Maybe we can't physically carry and bear that baby, but we can—and do—share in the pitfalls and joys
The road to completing our family was fraught with four years of bad luck and emotional torment. So when we finally got a positive pregnancy test and then made it to the 12-week mark, you know what I shouted to anyone who would listen?
But according to Mila Kunis, the actress and ridiculously beautiful person who is having a child with Ashton Kutcher, my words were poorly chosen and out of bounds.
Kunis, in what was actually a really funny segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live, corrected the host when Kimmel said he and his wife are pregnant and expecting a child in February. Then she launched into a fake public service announcement.
“Hi, I’m Mila Kunis with a very special message for all you soon-to-be fathers. Stop saying, ‘We’re pregnant,’” she joked. “You’re not pregnant! Do you have to squeeze a watermelon-sized person out of your lady-hole? No. Are you crying alone in your car listening to a stupid Bette Midler song? No.”
Even though I’m someone who says, “We’re pregnant,” the bit made me laugh and I thought it was well done. I even posted it to Facebook with a message saying I disagreed with the premise, but had a good laugh.
And that’s when things got ugly.
Apparently some women are very touchy about the whole “We’re pregnant” thing. Comments like “WE aren’t carrying the baby, I am!” and “YOU aren’t going to have your most holy of orifices stretched, I am!” began arriving in droves. And those women are right.
Men cannot get pregnant. Men will never know what it’s like to endure morning sickness, lose control of our bladders (when we haven’t even been drinking), or have a miniature Jean-Claude Van Damme going all Bloodsport on our internal organs. Carrying and birthing a child is something only women have to endure, and the whole process is much harder on them than on us dads.
But that’s not what “we’re pregnant” means when I say it, and it’s certainly not how my wife interprets it. (I asked her.)
“We’re pregnant” means “We’re having a baby.” It means, “As a dad, I’m excited as hell.” It means, “This is actually happening.” But most importantly, when I say “We’re pregnant,” I’m letting everyone know that even though I’m not carrying the baby, I’m fully invested.
I’ll be at all the OB visits, I’ll read the baby books, and I won’t come near you with that smelly food that doesn’t even really smell but you think it smells so I’ll eat in the basement to avoid you vomiting for the 456th time.
Even though I didn’t go through the pains of pregnancy and childbirth, I was with my wife every step. Holding her hair back through the nausea, holding her hand through contractions, and getting her Kit-Kats and grapefruit (yes, seriously) when she had cravings.
Or, think of it this way:
While I’m not a professional athlete, I am a lifelong Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan. Fanatic, actually. I’m a crazy person with my sports. That means I sat through the dark years of the Sox and the even darker pre-2001 era of the Patriots. I invested money in the team via tickets and merchandise, I subscribed to the local cable channel that shows the baseball games, I brought them good fortune through a bevy of “lucky” trinkets that absolutely influenced the outcome of games, and I lived and died on every pitch and play.
So despite never donning a Sox jersey or strapping on football pads, guess what I said when my favorite teams won their respective championships?
Even though “We’re pregnant” is technically wrong because it ignores some biological impossibilities, my wife understands and appreciates the intent behind my words. Others might feel differently, and that’s fine, too. To each his and her own.
But during a time when more dads are stepping up and heeding the clarion call for added involvement, I’m not sure striking “We’re pregnant” from the expectant-parent vernacular sends the most productive message. If you have a supportive and doting partner, is this really the hill you want to die on while quibbling over semantics?
All I know is if that + sign ever appears on that magic stick again, my wife and I will happily announce: we are pregnant. And then I’ll stock up on Kit-Kats.
Aaron Gouveia is a husband, father of two boys, and writes for his site, The Daddy Files.