We are expecting an addition to the family soon. My wife is nesting.
For those those unfamiliar with this primal mammalian instinct, nesting is the period just before birth where the mother thoroughly prepares a “nest” for her offspring. It comes with deep-rooted biological significance. For understanding, look no further than the ecological r/K Selection Theory. r-Strategists reproduce in vast numbers at the expense of individual parenting (think, for example, insects). Reproducing in large numbers where a certain percentage survives solely due to the advantage of sheer quantity is their biological survival strategy. Humans, on the other hand, are K-Strategists that instead devote much time and love to a lesser quantity of offspring. Reproducing in smaller numbers, nesting, and caring for each child is our biological survival strategy. They are just two different means to the same end - propagation of a species.
For human mothers, nesting goes something like this:
Due date approaches. The mother discusses nursery room colors with the father, which for him, involves watching the baseball game with one eye and contemplating forty-three swatches of varying shades of chartreuse with the other. Who knew there were so many synonyms for green?
Due date approaches, fast. Kohl’s and Babies “R” Us cashiers recognize the mother readily - they chat on a first name basis. Credit card balances rise accordingly.
Due date approaches, faster still. The mother begins to worry that the nursery color is all wrong. Just in the nick of time for the child’s wellbeing, the room is repainted from Pale Tidepool green to Key Lime Pie green. (Damn you Lowe’s and all of your paint choices)
Due date approaches, even faster still. The mother begins the house cleaning, which gradually increases to unfathomable levels. Reports of polishing kitchen cabinet drawer slides and sterilizing Christmas tree decorations are not uncommon.
The nesting progression described above leads to an interesting observation - nesting is not a static process. In fact, the nesting pace seems to be directly proportional to the size of the baby belly. I think there is a formula for this. If not, there should be and it should be called the baby bump induced frenzy index.
But what about us daddies? Do we go through something similar? There is a well-documented phenomena called the sympathy belly, where the male’s gut starts to protrude in unison with the female’s during pregnancy. There are two schools of thought on this one: genetic forces resulting from a flaw on the Y-chromosome, or fried chicken wings and Sam Adams Lager. The verdict is still out on the sympathy belly cause, but rest assured, important research continues across the country in scientific laboratories and neighborhood pubs alike.
But do we nest? I think so. Truly I do. I’ve noticed some changes in my behavior. First, I am becoming more reliant on the digital video recorder (DVR) function on the television remote control. When once I could watch Jeopardy at its regularly scheduled time, now I am fetching tiny clothes from the attic and assembling diaper bins in anticipation of future stinky gifts from our new little peanut. The DVR allows me to prepare for our newest bundle of love and simultaneously fulfill my love for quiz shows hosted by charismatic, but slightly smug, game show hosts.
Also, I’ve noticed that I’m making personal sacrifices. To cut costs, I’m assembling a home brewery in our basement. This will significantly save on household expenses over the long run, leaving funds for (gulp) college tuition and weddings. Clearly, these sacrifices are related to male nesting behavior. Along the same lines, according to my research, some extreme cases of male nesting can lead to construction of a man cave.
So yes, daddies nest too. But what we do is minor in comparison to the nesting instincts inherent in mommies. From carrying the child in-womb for the better part of a year, to making sure the home will be safe and comfortable, to having an eye for the proper shade of nursery green, they do the lioness’ share. I will do what I can to support. The motivation is easy though - I sneak a peek at my existing children sleeping comfortably and the rewards become obvious. Then, with nesting chores done for the day, I crack open a bottle of homebrew and watch Jeopardy on the DVR.