I have eight children, and have survived to tell the tale. How did I do it? Come along on a backward-looking voyage of discovery, mateys, and I'll tell ye:

Looking back, I recall the initial euphoria my wife Amy and I experienced when the tests came back positive for our first child. We lived in a student apartment off-campus, and before I left for classes each day I would walk out into the back parking lot to pick a rose blossom from a straggling tea rose bush that came over the fence, to leave on her pillow. One morning I was in a hurry and didn't bother with the blossom. That night Amy asked plaintively "Where was my rose today?" That's when I learned never to leave out the little things in a marriage, especially when your wife is experiencing her first pregnancy.

This is how to survive that first precious pregnancy that you and your wife share. For, make no mistake about it, although she has all the pain, pressure and discomfort, you as the father are expected to dive right in, get your feet wet (maybe literally when the water breaks!) and remember the little things. As A.B. Johnson said back in 1841: "Large streams from little fountains flow, tall oaks from little acorns grow."

There is going to be drama, perhaps lots of it. Most of it is hormonal, and it can get very personal. To rise above it, no matter how petty, is one of your main jobs. Always remember this great advice from James 3:4, "Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth." You are that small helm, that insignificant-seeming rudder that guides the Good Ship Pregnancy to a safe harbor, despite storms and becalmings, misunderstandings and perhaps even a dose of mutiny! No one is calling on you to be Mr. Perfect; but between the two of you, you now have more control over your emotions, and even your body, than your spouse. Don't let it go to your head and become a Captain Bligh. Instead, remain as calm, helpful and reassuring as you can.

A foot massage is a small thing. Give your wife many of them. Who worries about the dishes now that everyone has a dishwasher? You worry about them; make sure they're stacked properly and get the machine started. A few cherries in a small ceramic bowl cannot make much of a difference in the cosmic scheme of things, but to your spouse they can bring a smile and the knowledge that you care. And let her eat them all, no matter how often she offers you one.

When it's winter and roses are no longer in bloom, put a dinner mint on her pillow. Because small actions, when consistent, are better friends to us than large actions that come but once in a while.

And when the baby comes and takes its rightful place as Emperor of the Universe in your lives, just keep on remembering the small things for your wife. I can promise you they pay HUGE dividends down the road.

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