The Silent Partner

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my wife is pregnant! This means, among other things, lots of doctor visits, name ideas, inappropriate questions from strangers and lamaze jokes (who could possibly take that seriously).

In between reprimanding me for my antics and misbehavior at the Doc’s office, my wife has been asking me about the necessity of the MANY medical options before us: Should we have that test? Are we really going to do that? Do we really have to do that?! In most cases the answer is “no”. Most of the test’s “discoveries” offer no moral solutions (more on this next week).

But it is good that she asks me these questions because most of the interactions between my wife and the doctor are completely predicated on the idea that I am not there.  I am a fly on the wall. A silent partner. So like a child not receiving attention, I find myself inserting random comments and thoughts during these appointments usually to no avail.

This whole thing concerns me. Are other expecting fathers being treated like this?

Is this why so many men have taken up a distant role in parenthood? Perhaps I have the cause and effect backwards: maybe because men traditionally have played a more distant role we have now been relegated to a quiet place in the corner. It seems no matter which of these is true, one thing has become clear to me: at times, to the detriment of a partnership in parenting, women’s rights take precedence in medical decision making during pregnancy.



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Steve Phillips

As a family physician who delivered many babies over the years (although I gave up that part of my practice several years ago), it was so uncommon for a husband to be present at prenatal visits that I can understand that those who are taking care of your wife aren’t used to your being there and aren’t quite sure what to do with you. It is a commentary on our society that the involvement of of the husband/father in prenatal care is a rare thing.