I’m a man. Just wanted to get that out of the way. When it comes to pregnancy, we, men, have very little to do with the goings-on in the uterus. We basically contribute our spermatozoa during the fun part of conception, and then we are mostly in charge of external damage control. So, what else can we do while making sure our wives or girlfriends are comfortable and have everything they could possibly desire at the ready for whenever a whim has to be indulged?
Do we binge-watch an excessively violent TV show that might offend the delicate sensibilities of our pregnant half? Do we just sit and twiddle our thumbs? No! We fortify our house in preparation for the coming storm. We do what men have been doing since the beginning of time without feeling the need to label it. In modern times, we call it mesting.
Mesting is the male version of nesting. The female of any species has a natural instinct to nest when pregnant or ready to become pregnant. She makes her dwelling place safe, cozy, and hidden from the eyes of predators. Mesting is the way in which males prepare for the arrival of a baby.
In nature, they usually fulfill their role by going out to find food. There’s no time to help with the nest because they must risk their lives going to the deepest, darkest corners of the wilderness and fighting off predators with their natural defenses, hoping they can bring back enough food to keep their mates and offspring-to-be alive.
In contrast, the modern human male just has to go to Target once a week. He’s got time is what I’m saying.
When does nesting start? Well, it usually begins in the third trimester, around week 38 or 39, so mesting should start even earlier. I’m telling you this from experience. It’s not ideal if a woman in the final stage of her pregnancy has to explain nesting to her husband. By this point, he should know what needs to be done. A husband’s behavior during pregnancy can make or break a relationship. If he hasn’t even thought about his role by this point, things can get dicey.
So, what can you do with this time? How do you stay busy enough so that no one questions your validity as a father-to-be? How can you become a nesting husband or boyfriend whose virtues will be extoled in stories swapped at playgroups in the near future? I’ll tell you how: just find stuff to do.
What follows is a list of male nesting tips and things you might want to consider getting done during the wait. This approach is more productive than sitting idle and terrifying yourself by thinking of all the ways you might find to accidentally drop your newborn baby when you first meet them.
You know that stupid creaky floorboard or that dumb dripping faucet you’ve been meaning to fix for the last 5 years? Well, now’s the time. What about that light switch that turns on nothing at all? This would be a great moment to figure what that thing’s for. There was a time when a man with no DIY skills had to spend thousands of dollars hiring professionals to hang up drywall or snake a drain. That has all changed with the advent of a wonderful little thing called YouTube.
YouTube is a magical place where you can find tutorials on anything you could possibly need tutoring on. Some of my mesting jobs included fixing a drip inside of the refrigerator by dismantling the freezer and unclogging the ice maker, building an indestructible shelving unit for our tiny and hopelessly cluttered pantry, and taking apart our Samsung HDTV to solder in a new capacitor to keep the screen from blacking out. I know, right? I sound like a professional repairman. I’m not though and neither do you need to be.
Once you have the rest of the house in relative order, the room where the blob of screaming cuteness will eventually reside seems like a great place to head next. There will be paint involved, of course. Based on personal experience, I suggest painting in whatever color your significant other chooses. Don’t pick fights over which shade of blue, Calamity or Ocean Motion, will be more soothing to the child. Just take the swatch your pregnant lady chooses, head to Home Depot, and have them mix you a can of that exact shade, then bring it home, and get to it. Trust me, you can’t win this argument.
You’ve been told that your kid won’t even be sleeping in their actual room for months after birth, so why do you have to get it done now? Because, and I mean this, what the hell else are you doing right now?
Painting is just the beginning. Once the baby shower happens, you will have boxes and boxes of furniture to put together. You might even recognize these boxes as the obstacles you had to move around the room when you were painting it. Well, now it’s time to open them and get started. While you assemble, you might want to exercise your right as a still-unencumbered adult to crack open a beer or three. It could be one of your last opportunities to imbibe in the middle of the day without being shamed for it. I’m just saying…
Childproofing is important, and it will make your baby momma happy, so just do it. Do not think of this as just lamely putting “plastic things” in the sockets. No! Consider it as thwarting the evil powers of electricity. Similarly, you tame the corners of that table and create an indestructible baby gate wall between the kitchen and the dining room. Make yourself feel like a hero even though, as far as we know, Captain America was never called upon to affix a child safety lock to a hazardous toilet lid.
Sure, you won’t really have to worry about this phase until your child gets their first taste of mobility, but this is a great time to cross this chore off your list. Remember, once that baby comes, sleep will be a luxury and alone time mostly non-existent, and when it does come, it will be preeeciousssss. Keep in mind that a knife drawer you choose not to childproof now will most likely need to be taken care of just as you are about to treat yourself to some football on TV.
Picture yourself wanting to be outside and enjoying the fresh air with your newborn child. Now picture the horrible sunburn they’ll get sitting exposed out in the open. Go outside and make that yard safe for your kid. Buy some umbrella stands, put up a few shade sails, fix some loose bricks, and create a nice, safe oasis for your baby. By the way, it will also play a role, perhaps a crucial one, in preserving your own and your partner’s sanity. If your kid is born in the winter, that’s ok. Spring is right around the corner, so be prepared.
Baby monitors, bottle washers, food warmers, swinging cradles, vibrating baby chairs—these are all electronic items you will probably already have on your shower registry and will most likely receive from friends and family as gifts. Put each of them together, read all the instructions, and figure out how to use them properly. Run some drills if you have to. The last thing you want is your baby screaming and your significant other staring daggers at you while your sleep-deprived self is struggling to get the cradle swing to work. Use your mesting time to become an expert in all of the new gadgets you now own since they are specifically designed to make your early parenting days easier.
Here is my best piece of advice about the car seat: take it to the police station. I’m serious. Open the box, put it in the car however you think it’s supposed to go, and then drive to a police station. They’ll show you that you have no idea what you’re doing and then teach you the latest proper car seat installation techniques. The laws change, and car seat technologies evolve, so don’t look this one up online—go to a professional.
Cops make you nervous due to prior convictions? Take it to a fire station then. Just as helpful.
Finally, you feel like you have a handle on the home environment. Take a break; it’s fine. Sit down. Comfy? Great. It’s time for some much needed…homework! You know all those pregnancy and early childhood books your wife bought? How about those funny books about fatherhood that your buddies gave you? Read them and reread them if you have to. You’re not studying for a test—the only thing you’ll be tested on is life, and failing is not an option.
I’m kidding. We, parents, fail all the time. Just don’t fail, like, spectacularly. Being prepared is the best way to avoid the pitfalls, so this part of mesting is important. Men don’t grow up expected to know anything about raising children. We cruise through our early life blissfully unaware of what lies ahead in the kid-rearing department.
Now is the time to correct that. Bone up on your baby terminology and what kinds of blankets are best to use within the first few weeks. The answer is none! Blankets are bad! You swaddle the baby. Consider this a wake-up call.
How an expecting father prepares during his wife’s pregnancy is crucial, not only for the health and well-being of his family but also for his own feeling of inclusion. Knowing that he isn’t just sitting idly by and waiting to go into crisis mode but actually preparing for the approaching tsunami will go a long way towards shoring up his confidence that he can, in fact, do this fathering thing. Which he can. And will.
So, stop surfing the internet and start on that closet door you’ve been meaning to fix for months. That baby is coming, so get mesting!