162. Having Babies: Vocabulary / A Male Perspective

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This is a follow up to the previous episode in which I interviewed my friend Amber, who is pregnant. In this episode I explain some key vocabulary to you, and discuss the issue of childbirth from a man’s point of view.


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Transcript starts here:
Hi everyone, how are you doing? I hope you’re fine and that life is generally treating you well. All’s well here at Luke’s English Podcast. I just had some soup, which was nice. It was tomato soup.

The last episode I recorded was all about having babies – creating human life and all that stuff – which is a fascinating topic, if a little bit sensitive, intimate, personal and ultimately quite heavy. I mean – it’s not a light topic is it. It’s not like chatting about cooking recipies or golf or movies or something.

“Hi how are you? Haven’t seen you in a while. What have you been up to?”
“Oh not much, just working, watched the new Tolkein movie, had a baby”
“Oh yeah, how is the Hobbit?”
“That’s no way to talk about my child!”
“No, I mean the movie – The Hobbit! How was it? I don’t really care about your baby…”
“Oh, yeah, right, well The Hobbit was pretty good yeah, and the baby’s fine”

No, it’s a fairly heavy topic, but interesting nonetheless. Also, it’s just something that comes up now and again. When you meet a pregnant woman, you’ll undoubtably have to have the ‘pregnancy conversation’ and will you know all the relevant words and phrases?

In the last episode, I didn’t get through everything, and I didn’t say everything I wanted to say on this subject. I made a list of vocabulary, so I’ll be explaining that in this episode, but also I’d like to discuss the subject a little bit from the man’s perspective, and then you’re going to listen to comedian Louis CK talking about his experience of becoming a father, which is a pretty honest and frank personal account.

Why have I chosen to cover this topic in this episode? Am I going to have a baby myself? Am I pregnant? Well, I have put on weight, and I did feel a bit sick this morning, but I think that’s beer – not a baby. But seriously it’s just because I think it’s interesting. I’d like to have kids, not right now, I’m recording a podcast, but soon and so I’m curious about all this. I’m a grown up man (honestly), and I should be well informed about these things! Also I think this is a way to introduce you to lots of new vocabulary.

So, first, let’s go through the vocab. You will have heard Amber and me say some of these things in the previous episode. How many of these words do you know? Can you use them all in your conversations? Let’s see…

Vocabulary related to pregnancy

she’s pregnant
synonyms:
– she’s expecting
– she’s preggars
– she’s ‘with child’
– she’s up the duff (!)
-She’s got a bun in the oven (!)
-She’s knocked up (!)
a mum-to-be
conception / The baby was conceived
Scientific/Biological terms:
(egg)
(fertilise)
(sperm)
(embryo)
(foetus)
a pregnancy test
morning sickness
feeling a bit hormonal
hormones
anenatal = before birth
antenatal classes
an antenatal scan
kicking
to give birth / to have a baby
due – it’s due on 30 January
the due date
contractions
my water broke
to go into labour
the maternity ward
a midwife (midwifery)
to deliver the baby
an epidural
to give birth
the birth
the baby is born
a natural birth
the umbilical chord
the belly button / tummy button
the placenta
twins
identical twins
conjoined twins
triplets
nappies
the facts of life
the birds and the bees

More vocabulary: Some negative words & associations
abortion
pro-life
pro-choice
to induce labour
to be overdue
a caesarean or c-section
a miscarriage
to lose a baby
a premature birth
stretch marks
postnatal depression
baby blues

Comments and opinions on pregnancy, from the man’s point of view.
Pregnancy is a wonderful thing and all that. Imagine finding out that you’re going to be a Mum or a Dad. For the man I imagine it’s a complex feeling of pride, joy, protectiveness towards the woman, and total panic. Not for all men, but for some. It’s scary for the woman of course because she goes through all these physical changes and it can feel like there’s an alien inside her, but also because she’s facing the moment of childbirth – which must be very daunting because of the pain and the danger! Not to mention the pressure of then looking after the baby when it arrives. These fears are also accompanied by amazing joy I guess, but let’s face it – it’s also pretty scary.

But it can scare men quite a lot too. Obviously, it depends on the individual, and everyone’s different. But we often hear about men’s reactions to finding out that they’re going to be a dad. A lot of men are really proud and over them moon, which is great. But some men will freak out and run a mile at the mere mention of having kids. I’m sure you’ve experienced something like that. When you’re in a relationship, and perhaps (if you’re a girl) you bring up the subject of children, and your boyfriend just freaks out, avoids the question, gets defensive or perhaps just refuses to even talk about it. Guys, you know what I’m talking about, right? When that subject comes up, you just want to say “Woah there!” or just “Um, I’ve just realised that I’ve got to go… yeah, I’ve just remembered that I’ve got to leave, and, escape to… to somewhere else… I’ve got to go to Alaska, yes, because… because of salmon… there’s lots of samon that need to be caught and it’s very important because the world needs salmon, so bye!”

Why is this?

I’m not a Dad yet, so I don’t really have first hand experience. But I suppose this is a very big deal because a whole new responsibility has arrived, and we want to do it properly. So, it’s a change, and that’s a control issue. Suddenly the rules have changed and we feel a bit out of depth or something. Also we feel we are the providers, and so we want to make sure everything is provided for – money, security and so on. Men will often get a bit serious and look for more job security.

I’m talking about men’s reactions to having kids, but I realise that to an extent it’s a heavier burden for women – it must be a massive thing to do – to bring someone into the world, but then again I suppose the girls get the advantage of being able to create human life, which is pretty exceptional. They don’t do it alone though, hopefully the’ll have someone else with them.

Women immediately face the reality of pregnancy (although some deny it). But sometimes it takes a while for the news to sink in for a man. It can take more time – for example, it doesn’t sink in until they hear the heartbeat or see the sonogram of the baby, or even until birth in some cases!

Those are just my thoughts, and as I said – I’m not a dad yet, so I’m just speculating. I did do a quick google search and found 7 fears that men experience. This is from a website called babycenter.com. I would never normally search for this kind of thing. Maybe I’m subconcsiously gearing myself up for being a Dad. Who knows. Anyway, what are those 7 fears?www.babycenter.com/0_seven-fears-expectant-fathers-face_8247.bc?page=1

Security fears
The biggest fear men face is the one most deeply hardwired into our culture: Will I be able to protect and provide for my family?

Performance fears
More than 80 percent of the fathers I come across in my practice say they were worried they wouldn’t be able to perform when their partner was in labor. They were afraid of passing out, throwing up, or getting queasy in the presence of all those bodily fluids.

Paternity fears
About half the new and expectant dads I interviewed eventually came around to admitting they had fleeting thoughts that they weren’t really the baby’s father.

Mortality fears
When you’re a part of the beginning of a life, you can’t avoid thinking about the end of life. Thoughts about your own mortality can loom large: You’re not the youngest generation anymore, your replacement has arrived, and if everything works out right, you’ll die before your child dies.

Fear for your partner’s or child’s health
Childbirth is such a nerve-racking experience. Scary things can happen to the person you love most in the whole world.

Relationship fears
Men often fear that their partner will love the baby more than anyone on earth — and exclude them from that intimate relationship. It’s a very real fear of being replaced. 

Fears of “women’s medicine”
Men are not used to the ob-gyn establishment. It’s foreign, it’s cold, it’s something we don’t understand well. Even as observers, many men feel embarrassed and inhibited around stirrups and gynecological exams.

Fears of “women’s medicine”
Men are not used to the ob-gyn establishment. It’s foreign, it’s cold, it’s something we don’t understand well. Even as observers, many men feel embarrassed and inhibited around stirrups and gynecological exams.

Obstetrics and gynaecology (or obstetrics and gynecology; often abbreviated to OB/GYN, OBG, O&G or Obs & Gynae) are the two surgical–medical specialties dealing with the female reproductive organs in their pregnant and non-pregnant state, respectively, and as such are often combined to form a single medical specialty and postgraduate training programme.

Zdenek’s English Podcast – have a look here.

Transcript continues…
In the end though, although it is a bit overwhelming, it is also great because you get to see your child grow through all these important stages in their life (first words, first steps etc) and you get to re-live your childhood a little bit too.

Let’s hear from a real father expressing his experience in a really honest way. This is Louis CK talking about being a father. Who is Louis CK? Basically, he’s a really funny, in my opinion, comedian from the States…

First you’ll hear him defending himself against people who might assume he’s a bad father because they see him texting on his mobile phone while walking with his daughter. It looks like he’s not really giving her the proper amount of attention. But in fact, he’s a pretty good dad. He’s not perfect, but it seems his kids love him. He also talks about how he decided to be a good dad, and give it his best shot. So here it is, Louis CK talking about being a father:

A few days ago I was leaving a restaurant with my youngest daughter, and I was holding her hand, and I was texting with this hand. Yeah, I’m that guy. A woman walked by and she gave me a dirty look, like “Hmm you should pay more attention to your kid.”

Ok, guilty!

But I have something to say to that woman. This is why I’m able to spend time with my kids when I should be at work. It was noon on a Thursday, okay? I had a crazy amount of work to do, but my kid graduated from pre-school that day and I wanted to take her to lunch!

And it was a great lunch.

We sat at the same side of the table the way she likes. We shared a chicken cutlet. I ate some of her chicken cutlet. We looked at her drawings. She told me many stories about the chinchilla in the classroom.

And so now I’m texting and you walk by  “errr bad father!”

What do you know?!

OK, I’m being defensive, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been texting.

You know when my kids were younger. I used to avoid them. I used to sit on the toilet until my legs fell asleep.

You want to know why your father spent so long in the toilet? Because he’s not sure he wants to be a father.

I felt like being a dad was taking away everything I wanted to be.

And I was right.

But so what? What’s so great about our lives? What the hell is an adult without kids, what’s the point? So I got off the toilet, I flushed down my personal dreams and I decided, I’m going to be a dad. I’m not going to be Mum’s assistant. That’s depressing, don’t do that if you’re a dad, just wait for her to write you a list, walk round the store staring at it and call her from the cereal isle to make sure you’ve got the right thing. Be a man! Make your own list. [Do we need any avocadoes?]

Fathers have skills that they never use at home. You run a landscaping business and you can’t dress and feed a four year old? Take it on. Spend time with your kids and have your own ideas about what they need. Get into it. It won’t take away your manhood. It’ll give it to you.

I did that. I spent more time with my kids. I took it on.

I found out that I’m a pretty bad father. I make a lot of mistakes. I don’t know what I’m doing, but my kids love me. Go figure.
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