Spreading the News (Fatherhood Series - Part 3)

Author: Iain Schofield

So, the big news is in your lap. You’ve spent the last few days in a trance as your mind scrambles to regain its composure. Back to normal (ish), your news is all of a sudden burning a hole in your pocket. You’re desperate to tell someone, anyone. But, like most things, there is a social protocol. If you’re like me, such things are an unsettling mystery. So, here’s my experience and the wisdom [sic] found therein.

When to spill the beans

Bad news, you need to keep the beans in their respective receptacle for the time being. It’s good practice to wait until after 12 weeks before spreading the good news. There is some sound reasoning behind this lengthy silence. At around 12 weeks, you’ll have your first scan and a host of reassurance that all is well. Spreading the news before this point is by no means forbidden, but you should probably limit pre-12 week divulgence to close family only. We waited and it was tough. Have you ever bought someone a present that you know they’ll love? You’re really proud of yourself, and you just know they’re going to be over the moon…but they’re birthday isn’t for another month. This felt kind of like that.

Who to tell (and in what order)

Parents first. It’s only fair, they did raise you/give birth to you. In our case, we knew one set of parents would be really happy and the other set were something of an unknown. Being new to this, we opted for the easy option and told the guaranteed-to-be-happy parents first. It’s funny, you’ve spent weeks and weeks waiting to tell your folks but when the moment comes, it’s still scary. I wound up very tense and opted to blurt it out very fast mid-conversation leading to confusion all round. Heed my advice, do it better. After around a week, we told the other set of parents. After my poor form with the first set, my wife took the lead. She did much better. There was tea and scones and an eloquent breaking of news. My ban on breaking news is due for review in a year or so.

Reactions - reality vs. fantasy

From parents, there comes the rest of the world (or your social circle at least). Now at this point, there are some potential disappointments to prepare yourself for. Now, I’m not great at social stuff. I think I mentioned that earlier. Other people’s emotions are often a mystery to me. I spend a lot of time guessing what people are thinking, which can lead to paranoia, anxiety, and general feelings of misery. When it came to telling friends, I had certain expectations, fanfares, mass celebrations in the streets etc. Some friends were great. They were over-the-moon for us and crazy excited. Others were more muted, which hurt. It shouldn’t of course. This news is huge, it’s yours and how you feel about it is the most important thing. But still, when fantasy and reality diverge it can hurt a little. People are strange, as a strange person myself I’m something of an expert. Try to curb expectations. Or, better yet, go in with none.

The reactions of others can raise you up or, occasionally, bring you down. Just remember, this news is incredible. You’ve done something amazing and changed your lives forever.  How the two of you feel about this news is the only thing that matters. Whilst a network of people will provide support, it will be the two of you who raise, love and care for this new life.

Be excited, I know we are.

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