My first pregnancy occured during my internship. During this period of involuntary servitude, I worked every third night at the hospital, returning home where I could to fall asleep in a chair, after a perfunctory grunt in my wife's direction. I had no feelings about her being pregnant, about fatherhood, manhood, deprivation. I just wanted to sleep. Just as being a first-year medical student had enabled me to isolate myself from the stresses of marriage and intimacy, so internship served to ward off involvement with my wife and the thing growing inside her. My daughter and I are still discovering what we are about.
During my second pregnancy, I was a military psychiatrist, and had more leisure than at any time before or since. Would that I had the benefit of Dr. Shapiro's wisdom at that time. During his wife's first pregnancy in 1981, he began a study of expectant fatherhood, using both personal introspection and questionnaires and interviews of 227 men. With gentle humor and kindly wisdom, he takes us from the ambivalence about deciding to have a child to the search for equilibrium (or Librium) in the post-partum period.
Those who seek a non-judgmental passive therapist will notfind one here. Shapiro is direct and positive as he lists practical tips, offers a big brother's advice, and supportively coaches the father-to-be over the hurdles. Sometimes he gets a little sappy: "You gotta slow down and not run around so much." Or, "When that kid looks into your eyes and you know it's yours, you know what it means to be alive." Never mind; a little joy and exhuberance helps to balance the anxiety.