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Fatherhood and Other Drugs

The FDA paperwork.

Where it says “type of submission,” I check the box for “original application.” Proposed marketing status? I put an X next to “over the counter product.” Those are the only easy sections of the form to fill out. Elsewhere there are lists of regulation codes, and 46-point Scrabble words like “pharmacokinetics” and “bioavailability.” They don’t exactly make it easy to get a new drug approved these days.

          When I started working on Show Dad How, an instruction manual for new and expectant dads, my mission was to write the book that I couldn’t find (and didn’t look for) when I was starting a family. My wife Brandy shared her dog-eared copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, and I must say, it was the most interesting coaster I ever had on my nightstand. But guys come into the parenting process in a completely different way, so we need a book written specifically for us. (Short on words, long on boob illustrations.)

           But how do I get guys to pick up Show Dad How at the bookstore? That’s when it came to me: Get the book approved as a legal over-the-counter drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The ob-gyn or pediatrician writes the script, and Dad takes it to Barnes & Noble.

          There is no shortage of resources for pregnant women and new moms: Books, websites, clinics, support groups, and specialized physicians. Through these resources, Mom becomes the parenting expert. Any information or insight that Dad acquires comes from her. (She’s a walking, talking, frequently-peeing Google.)

          The family benefits greatly when dad is educated about the parenting process. One study published in Infant Mental Health Journal showed that when expectant dads participated in an educational prenatal session, moms reported greater satisfaction with the sharing of home and baby tasks postpartum.

          The funny thing is Show Dad How wouldn’t exist if mom showed us how. That’s right, I said it: You don’t bring us into the process during pregnancy, and then somehow, cutting an umbilical cord is supposed to make everything click. That’s not how it works. Pregnancy is biological. It changes a woman’s body, eyesight, hair, feet, emotions. It changes how she eats, sleeps and moves. For an expectant dad, pregnancy is an abstract idea. It’s a grainy ultrasound image hanging on the refrigerator.

          So go beyond just putting our hand on your belly. Share how you’re feeling, both physically and emotionally, and any fun factoids about baby’s development (“Honey, we’re in the eleventh week. Our daughter is the size of a cocktail shrimp!”) Invite him to every ob-gyn appointment. Let him test drive baby gear like monitors, strollers and car seats.

          The paperwork has been completed (see inset photo), and sent to the FDA. I'll keep you posted on what I hear back. But even if Show Dad How was a legal drug, it’s up to the guy to make the book more than a coaster on the nightstand. A dad is born nine months before delivery. His job begins when the pregnancy test displays a plus sign.