Pregnancy Cravings, Blood Clots and Cookie Monster: Stories from a Veteran Dad

Pregnancy Cravings, Blood Clots and Cookie Monster: Stories from a Veteran Dad

For 10 years, it was just Brian and Jessica. The husband and wife had already experienced the “young couple freedom” and knew they were ready to start something new. 

The duo had discussed it early in the relationship, and they both knew they wanted kids.

“To me, it’s important to be on the same page about that with your partner,” said Brian Mattson, associate pastor at The Downtown Church in Springfield.

But by 2018, the couple had been trying to get pregnant for more than a year and a half. It wasn’t easy. Brian described the litany of medications and tests for ovulation/fertility he and his wife explored, and each step had so far been unsuccessful. 

When they finally learned they were going to have a baby, they were over the moon.

“At first we were very cautious,” Brian said of seeing a positive pregnancy test for the first time. “We had been let down every month for 18 months.” 

He remembers feeling “super excited,” but on the other hand, Brian and Jessica didn’t want to announce anything until it was a sure thing. They decided to keep the secret until 11 or 12 weeks in, until after Jessica’s first doctor’s appointment. 

“I took my closest group of friends out to lunch, got them a round of drinks and shared the news,” Brian recalls. All his friends were very excited for him.

Already accustomed to tracking hormonal cycles on their phones, Brian says it was not difficult to transition into pregnancy research. The couple downloaded the What to Expect When You’re Expecting phone app to track the size of the fetus, learn about each development stage, etc.

“Each week, we’d open the app together excitedly,” Brian said. “Every week you progress (in your pregnancy), the chance to have a healthy baby increases.” 

Around that time, Brian started thinking about his own health as well, reasoning he wanted to be on this planet as long as possible for the sake of his children. He started an exercise regimen, sharing that heart disease runs in his family. He’d listen to pregnancy podcast during his workouts.

Brian encouraged Good Dads readers to be involved in their partner’s pregnancies: Don’t check out. Read books; understand the developmental stages; learn what she’s going through. 

“To have a partner, I think, excited and involved … may relieve some of the fear about the process,” he said. “It was a completely new part of our journey, but we had been together for a long time, so we knew we’d be there for each other.

“There are so many good resources out there,” Brian said. “Be involved in helping Mom however you can. Jessica had a tipped uterus and had terrible tailbone pain. We bought her a foam pad for her chair at work and in the car. Learn and help however you can.”

Another way the couple prepared ahead of the delivery date was to attend a weekly Baby Basics class with four or five other couples, led by a nurse. 

“I left (class) every time thinking, ‘Thank God I’m a man! I have it so easy!’” Brian laughed, recounting the most shocking part of the class: the lesson on delivery day. 

The nurse shared that most women wear a large pad 24–48 hours after delivery because they pass blood clots the size of golf balls. 

“It totally freaked me out,” Brian confessed. “I was thinking: ‘IS ANYONE ELSE HEARING THIS RIGHT NOW?!’ I was flabbergasted! 

“If you would have told me that first thing, I might have canceled this whole ‘kids’ thing altogether,” he half-joked.

But when Jack was born, Brian got his bearings. He says some people find it hard to connect with their son or daughter at the beginning, “but that’s never been a problem for me.” 

Because he works Sundays and gets Fridays off, he got Jack all to himself for one day a week, something he cherished. 

“We did whatever we wanted to do,” Brian said.

Obviously, there wasn’t much to do during the first six months, but he took his time observing Jack, taking note of what the baby connected with—particularly Sesame Street, and especially Cookie Monster.

“We were one-on-one every Friday for two years,” Brian recalls, describing Jack as a “fun, easy kid” who loves going to the zoo, aquarium and Discovery Center for special dad-son bonding time.

LEARN MORE: E463 Dads of Two Young Children

Brian’s advice for dads-to-be: 

Mom’s body is going through a horrible process, so keep your opinions to yourself, as long as she’s eating and drinking. In other words, don’t tell your partner that she shouldn’t have another bowl of ice cream. When Mom is craving, don’t discuss healthy eating options. Shut up and get her ice cream! 

Doctors want expectant mothers to drink lots of water, but pregnant Jessica always complained that water tastes bad. I’d say, “How is that possible?!” 

“Yuck,” she’d say. “I don’t know how to explain it, but water sounds like the worst thing ever.” She ended up staying hydrated with the help of flavored waters.

Brian calls himself and Jessica “the old parents” in their friend group because they were both well into their 30s when Jack was born. But one thing he hadn’t anticipated was just how much his and Jessica’s schedules would change.

“You’re all in on this, but stay sane,” Brian advised. “It’s ‘baby first’ for the first 12 months.” 

After a baby, for at least the first year, life happened in two-hour increments: Feed, nap, change diaper, repeat. “But I’d do it all again in a heartbeat,” he said.

Brian and Jessica both have two siblings of their own and therefore agreed Jack wouldn’t be an only child. Brian was thinking maybe three or four children would be ideal, but after baby Dorothy was born (two years after Jack), Jessica was adamant: Two kids was plenty

Now that Jack is in day care five days a week, Brian gets to enjoy the same one-on-one bonding time with Dottie every Friday. He says he finds this both easy and relaxing. Perhaps our Springfield readers will spot Brian and his daughter, who just turned 3, cruising around town on Fridays together! 

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