Ep 101: Coaching Dads Through the “WTF” Moments of Fatherhood with David Arrell

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This is a really fun episode with a dad and men’s coach. I’ve only had a handful of male guests on the podcast and today I have another one.

David Arrell is an Author, Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Men's Coach currently living in Colorado Springs, CO. He is passionate about coaching men on how to more fully embrace and embody healthy masculinity, especially through the powerful modalities of partnership and parenting. His most recent work in this area is the book Welcome To Fatherhood: The Modern Man's Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Fatherhood, better known as WTF. In WTF David encourages men to more actively step into their important supportive roles during pregnancy, childbirth, and the 4th trimester back home and gives them detailed and practical tips and techniques on how to do so.

I really enjoyed my conversation with David, you know how you talk to someone and you just get a good feeling about them, that’s how I felt about David; i just got a good feeling that he is coming from a genuine place of wanting to help people.

You’re going to enjoy this and it’s one you’ll want to listen to with your partner as well.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • How to be a supportive and attentive teammate through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum
  • Why it’s important to look at parenthood as “teamwork,” as opposed to “women’s work”
  • How to handle people who challenge a more progressive approach to fatherhood / being a stay at home dad
  • What inspired David to write his book
  • How to use code words to ask for or offer support during pregnancy
  • What kinds of obstacles are being created by covid
  • Why hiring a doula can be helpful for both partners during birth

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Ep 101: Coaching Dads Through the “WTF” Moments of Fatherhood with David Arrell

Nicole: This is a really fun episode with a dad and men's coach.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it. Well, hello.

Nicole: Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 101, and I am so glad as always that you are spending a bit of your time with me today. I have only had a handful of male guests on the podcast, and today I have another male guest on the podcast. Today we have David Arrell on. David is an author, entrepreneur, consultant, and men's coach. He currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife and two children. David is really passionate about coaching men on how to more fully embrace and embody healthy masculinity, especially through the powerful modalities of partnership and parenting. His most recent work is the book Welcome To Fatherhood: The Modern Man's Guide To Pregnancy, Childbirth, And Fatherhood. It's better known as WTF. That is not a coincidence. And we talk about that in the episode. So in WTF, David encourages men to more actively step into their important supportive roles during pregnancy, childbirth, and the fourth trimester.

Nicole: And the book gives detailed and practical tips and techniques on how to do this. We are going to discuss some of those tips in the episode today. I really enjoyed my conversation with David. You know, how you talk to someone and you just get a good feeling about them. That's how I felt about David. I've just got like a good feeling that he is coming from a genuine place of wanting to help people and just a genuine place of service. So we have a great conversation about his experience with pregnancy, birth, fatherhood, mistakes that he made, how he came to his very active and involved approach to fatherhood. Of course, we cover those tips from his book and then much, much more. You're really going to enjoy this episode. And this is one that you're going to want to listen to with your partner as well.

Nicole: Now, before we get into the episode, I have a quick question. Have you taken my free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works? Because if you haven't, you should. This class is exactly what you need to help put you on the right path to make a birth plan that works to help you have the birth that you want. Now, a birth plan really is more than just like a checklist or a template making your birth wishes, which is more accurate than birth plan, because none of us can plan birth, but I say birth plan because that's what we all kind of say, but making a birth plan is really, or needs to be a process of understanding the two most influential factors in your birth. And that is your doctor's approach to birth and your hospital's approach to birth. And in this free class, I give you questions that you need to ask in order to understand those really important two factors. And then of course, there's tips on what to include and how to approach the process, um, how to get folks to pay attention. So tons and tons of valuable information, the course is online on demand completely free, offered several times a day, so you can register for it at drnicolerankins.com/birth-plan. All right, let's get into the episode with David Arrell.

Nicole: So thank you so much, David, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I'm really excited to have you here. I love that you are interested in helping men be better dads and just your approach and everything just really resonated with me.

David: Oh, thanks, Nicole. It's uh, a pleasure being here. I look forward to kicking some of these ideas around with you and talking about some of the fun things that dads can really step into these days.

Nicole: Yeah. So I wanted to start off by telling us about yourself, your work and your family. When I was doing some of like my background research before I have guest on, I saw you started in the restaurant space and now you're in coaching dads. So tell us a little bit about your journey and your family.

David.: Sure. Um, my journey has been anything but predictable from where I kind of thought it would be in previous chapters. Um, you mentioned the restaurant thing. I was in grad school back in San Francisco in the late nineties. And, um, I got about halfway through and I noticed that most of my professors were just not happy. I was in a program for philosophy. And so I saw the writing on the wall there, and I'd been working part-time as a waiter, uh, downtown at one of the nicer restaurants there. And I had so much fun there. The energy was fun. Um, people were excited. Uh, it was, uh, it was a good vibe. And so I kind of compared the two and I was like, well, this, this graduate degree is definitely a career, but I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing this.

David: So I made a left turn, uh, wrapped up a quick little master's as they say, and jumped full time into the restaurant business and ended up moving back to Philadelphia, where I had some really good friends from college and my family's in that area, and I just sort of jumped into the restaurant scene. Uh, one of the things I really loved about being a frontline waiter is that I wasn't really doing anything other than helping people have the best experience that they wanted to have. I was lucky to work in some really nice restaurants. And whether you wanted to come in for just a quick bite and go on your way, or this was a big anniversary dinner, or maybe it was a, a 10 person birthday. Like I was very happy to kind of go with that flow and really do what I, the best I could to help the people in front of me have the best experience they wanted to have.

David: And that's one of the things that kind of circle back to the current work with coaching the dads. Um, after being in the restaurants for a while, I decided I really wanted to open up my own coffee shop. I had, I had loved the cafe vibe. I spent a lot of time in coffee shops and cafes when I was in school and grad school. And to me, it really felt like a great way to sort of line up all my values, where I was serving the community. I was taking care of myself, my family, I was, um, being a good steward of my little part of the economy. So back in 2007, I opened up Good Karma Cafe in Philadelphia. And, uh, it was a neat little small cafe, like all organic and fair trade. And, um, one of the things I really learned from that business was the importance of trying to work with the people around you to really, inform and empower them to do their jobs the best way possible.

David: Um, I think that's something that I'd experienced as as many people who are an employee experience. It kind of find places they work where they're just not really appreciated or they're, they're held accountable to things that they didn't even know they were supposed to do. So to me, that was a big learning opportunity and a chance to kind of embody a much more healthy and progressive, um, you know, boss role, uh, with the, with the team around me, within my community as well. Um, I met my wife one day at a yoga studio. Literally we, I had a little moped. I was riding at the time and, uh, she had one too, and we hadn't seen each other before. And she pulled up across the street on her moped and I looked over and clear as day. I heard a voice in my head say, there she is.

Nicole: Oh, wow.

David: And it's funny because at the time I was like, you know, really just kind of doing my bachelor thing. I was busy with the shops. I was kind of running two stores at that point and I kind of like checked myself. I was like, I don't have time for a relationship right now. Um, I'm, I'm, I'm busy, you know, but sure enough, a few months later we just started talking more and really connected. And up to that point, I had never really viewed myself as a guy who's going to have kids or a dad kind of material. I was traveling. I kind of, you know, living a fun life, being a guy and in Philadelphia and just busy doing my thing. And, and my world like literally switched channels that day. And, um, I remember one time, one night on the couch, my wife, at the time we were dating, she was like, you know, I think I really might be okay having kids with you.

David: And I was like, okay, babe, sounds great to me. You know, later we laughed about how she was so sort of like taken aback by my like non-enthusiastic response. And I was like, Oh babe, I knew the minute I met you I wanted to have kids with you. Like I was already there. I just wasn't trying to rush you there. So, right, right. Like my little dad, uh, my dad gene kicked on then and, um, we, uh, ended up selling the business. We moved to Omaha. My wife is a pediatric nurse practitioner she's in the air force. And, um, the plan was for us to start a family. And literally, you know, I think we hadn't even unpacked all of our moving boxes and we found out we were expecting and I was just so excited. I was like, okay, you know, I'm like, I'm ready. I'm ready to do this. I wanted to be a dad. I was committed to, um, being a stay at home dad. Cause I've just kinda gotten out of the business world of just running around crazy every day, all day. So I was ready, but you know, I thought I was ready.

Nicole: And you're certainly going to tell us about some of that as, as well. So at what point did you end up like deciding that you, that you were going to be intentional about actually coaching dads?

David: I think so with our first pregnancy. I, I thought I was doing all the quote unquote, the right things. Like we went to, uh, we did a birth class together, the Bradley birth class method. Um, the base was sponsoring another, um, birth class type event called circling for pregnant families. Um, I read the books, I kind of thought I was doing so many things right. Um, and going through that pregnancy and especially going through, um, childbirth, and then that fourth trimester back home, I had so many moments where I look back and I was like, Oh man, I really could have done that a lot better. I thought I was there, but that none of the books mentioned this. And in hindsight it just became clear that I would have had a much easier or not easier, but like a richer experience had I understood something differently previously than I did. And only after kind of like going through it, um, and having different experiences was I able to look back and be like, wow. If somebody had told me that, then this would have been so much better.

Nicole: Gotcha, gotcha. Yeah. Don't we all have that hindsight sometimes? It's always 2020. And then, um, but something still like pushed you to make that leap into like writing and workshops and we'll get into some of your work. So it's just always interesting to me, like what causes people to, to take that next step, like, or listen to that voice that's, that's pulling you there?

David: Well, I, I think, um, one of the things that motivates me and I think a lot of people that go into the birth space in some sort of professional capacity have a similar motivation where they had either a fantastic experience with really powerful people, helping them along the way. And, or they had some really challenging experiences that they came out. The other side of feeling like they'd been, I don't know if let down is the right word, but they hadn't really been helped along in what could have been a much easier process.

Nicole: Do you consider yourself a dad coach, so to speak?

David: Um, I, I think that, uh, I think that's an accurate label, but I would, I would like to have, um, I'd like to get a little bit more feedback on some of the, uh, some of the work I've been putting out there before I could really honestly embrace that. Like I think I'm a dad, I'm a dad coach and, uh, in development here, the job's never done, but my, uh, my aspirations and intentions are in that direction.

Nicole: Gotcha. Gotcha gotcha. Gotcha. So let's talk a little bit about like your experience as a father, uh, because obviously that, that informs your work. So it sounds like you were excited about becoming a father. Is that fair to say for both of your children? Was it different for each of your children?

David.: No, I, I was, I was probably more excited with the first, just because of the novelty and the sort of unknown. And I think, like I mention in the book, most dads to be are, if you ask them what they're excited about, they'll start talking about things like, Oh, teaching my kid to ride a bike or going fishing, or it's like the kid pops out at near four years old magically. So, so many dads are, are that's part of the programming that, that us dads kind of like a come built in with, I think. And, um, so with the first pregnancy I had, you know, I had some of those visions in my mind and, um, you know, being, being a stay-at-home dad through that first trimester or that fourth trimester back home, um, those first three months, you know, really kind of quickly cleared my eyes of those illusions of playing catch and playing softball and riding bikes and got right back into warming up bottles and shift sleeping and changing diapers and doing all the things.

David: So once I made that first adjustment to like, Oh, this th that, that other thing with bicycles is years away, and this is what's happening now. Um, once I made that shift, I was able to kind of like be re-enthused about like what it means to be, be that be a dad and be a partner to my wife and, and, and, uh, you know, a caregiver to my brand new infant. Um, I think the second, the second pregnancy and the second childbirth experience was so much easier for, for all the reasons. But I think for me, I had, I had that experience of going through it before. Um, I also had the experience of seeing my wife go through it before, which was really powerful for me. Um, and I can get into that a little bit later, but yeah. And then, and then having our second baby, I mean, I was, I felt calmer.

David: I felt, you know, I knew what I was doing more anyway. Um, and I felt I'd been doing the work on the Welcome To Fatherhood stuff. So I'd been doing a lot of research and talking to people and doing my workshops. So I had more than just my experience to kind of draw from. So the second one, I felt so much more, uh, balanced and like positioned to be the best version of myself. I could be where I'd already kind of done the learning on the fly that comes with all first pregnancies and childbirths, uh, that first go round. So I think I was definitely a much better partner, the second go around. Um, and I guess it's still to be determined if I'm being a better dad.

Nicole: And how far apart are your children?

David: Uh, just 22 months. So just under two years.

Nicole: Oh, wow. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. So you didn't have like a whole ton of time to kinda like, you know, create a different experience or, you know, change things the second time around. So it sounds like you went all in with like making it the best version for yourself that you could?

David: Yeah, exactly. It was, it was a rolling, uh, learning environment with going through, um, you know, our Justin, our firstborn, um, you know, breastfed breastfed all the way up through, uh, Jen getting pregnant with our second and, um, you know, transitioning, uh, to solid foods and, you know, all of those things as she was already going into, uh, another pregnancy, uh, it was just sort of like a rolling education for all three of us. Yeah.

Nicole: So what is one of the things that you feel like is a mistake that informs your work before we start talking about your work?

David: I think one of the biggest mistakes I made going the first round is I just really was, I didn't fully appreciate how important and to the big of a deal. Um, pregnancy is, well, was for my wife and is for almost all of the women I speak with, like it, and I, I li this is like right in the first chapter of the book, like, Hey guys, like pregnancy is literally the, probably the biggest deal ever for mama bigger than weddings and graduation and promotions. Like this is a very powerful life-changing experience. And I don't want to like dip to dip my toes too deep into the, like the spirituality side of things, but this is like a transformative process. It's, uh, you know, all of we all got here from, from our moms and, you know, in different cultures times pass, like it was the transition from maidenhood to motherhood was like a huge rite of passage.

David: And for us guys are kind of our native responses. It's sort of something happening, you know, quote unquote, over there with mama. And we're just sort of like, okay, yeah, sure. You know, if you want some ice cream and pickles or, you know, you want me to lift something heavy? Like yeah, I'm your guy, but otherwise I really, I just don't know what I'm doing over here or what I'm supposed to be doing. Right, right, right. And so I think, you know, I was definitely not as helpful and supportive the first go round as I could have been. Um, but from the lessons I learned and the research I was doing and, um, you know, I really felt so much more connected to my wife's process. That second time around one of the taglines I kind of hit on is better connected and better prepared. And better connected to mama is the first one of those two for a reason. Like, that's really something I think most guys could reevaluate. It's like, how connected are you to mama and her journey right now? Cause it's a really big deal. And you can't just be on the side sort of waiting to be tasked with something you want to, you want to step in there right away into that emotional space and be that teammate and partner she needs, you know?

Nicole: Yep. Yep. Absolutely. Absolutely. So you take, what, what, what many would consider like a more progressive and active approach to fatherhood, which isn't always the case. So how did you come to this philosophy and approach?

David: I think, I think one of the things that was helpful for my circumstances is that I was a little bit older. I was in my forties when we had our, uh, first pregnancy and I'd already had an opportunity to sort of, you know, be quote unquote successful in the business world. So I was really energetically, committed a hundred percent to the Parenthood journey. And like I was, I was enthusiastic about getting a cool baby wearing contraption and get my dad bag. And, uh, I was, I was ready. Like I was, I wanted to be there. I wanted to be, um, a full, like a full teammate, uh, to my wife, but also like a full parent. My kid, I was lucky growing up. My dad was a, was a great dad and I don't have any like, you know, large complaints about that process. But I, I think it was a different opportunity now for us guys these days to really embrace that role as, as, as much and as deeply as we want to.

David: And, and I was all in on that. So I think there were some circumstances there that were favorable for me, but also just, you know, I've always kind of leaned more towards like that progressive end of the spectrum, like with my coffee shop and organic and fair trade and, and getting into the dad stuff like, Hey man, let's, let's get in there, let's do this. Let's make things better for ourselves, but everybody else also. So I wanted to be, you know, kind of an example, like, Hey, you know, it's not, it's not feminine or whatever the critique would be to wear your baby or to be changing your baby's diaper. There's no such thing as quote unquote women's work or let the women do that, even though it may have been true for certain places and times in the past, like it's all everybody's work. It's a team effort. Let's all jump in.

Nicole: Exactly. 100%, 100%. I'm grateful that I'm married to someone, my husband Falcon is the same way. So, um, it's just, it's just, it's just great. So have you ever gotten any pushback though? Like what are you doing, man? Like this is lame or have you ever had anybody say anything like that to you? And if so, um, how did you overcome it? Or what do you tell other dads who like say that they've experienced that?

David: Well, I think one of the great sort of mellowing elements I've experienced through this process is to be a little less sort of like prickly about that kind of stuff. I remember it was, uh, we had Justin in the summertime in August and then one day in September, I had him strapped to me and we were going out for a walk in our neighborhood and this dear, sweet, nice little old lady with her little dog was walking towards me and she's looking at me and I can just tell by the look she's confused as to why she's, she's wondering where mama is. Right. And I'm like, ah, here we go. You know? And, uh, and she passes me and I pass her and I kind of like force a smile at her. Cause I'm already feeling like a little defensive. And uh, she turns around and this like really thick European accent.

David: She's like, Oh, you a stay, you home stay dad. And I'm trying to feign like a German accent, sorry for that. Um, but, but then I re I was like, yes. And she was like, Oh, good job. Good job. She gave me like two big thumbs up. And it was so funny. I mean, I've had so many moments where I was like, anticipating a circumstance to go one way and it went another. And that was one of those. And it was so funny. I was like, ah, this is good. This, this clearly a member of the older generation, maybe from a more traditional mindset is fully supportive of me being a dad walking around with my, with my baby on my chest. And I got a little bottle sticking out of my back pocket, in case he wakes up and is hungry. And so I haven't felt a lot of explicit resistance, but I have worked with guys who've told me like, Hey man, like, you know, my dad is really telling me not to get too bogged down in this diaper stuff and telling me just to go focus on bringing home the bacon to let my wife cook it up.

David: And, and I'm not really down with that anymore. And to those guys, I'm like, yeah, I get it. I I've, I've seen that story. Some of our more traditional, um, you know, mindsets around what men are supposed to be doing, uh, women are supposed to be doing. I don't think a lot of that really holds any more so to those guys. I would say, look, man, don't really worry about what your friends and family members, or even if it's elder members in your community that you generally respect and honor and trust a lot for opinion and advice. If they're trying to like check you on this particular thing, you know, don't worry about that. Your focus is on mama and your, and your baby. Like, you know, Parenthood starts with that positive pregnancy test, is something I tell everybody. So really focused on that and take care of your team. That's you, your mama, I mean your mama and your, your partner, your wife, and, and focus on that baby that's coming out soon. And that's who you really got uh, that's whose respect and honor, and opinion is really gonna matter down the road. Not, not uncle Fred over there wagging his finger about why you change in a diaper and let the women do it.

Nicole: Right. Right. Right. I love that. I love that. So what inspired you to write your book? Welcome To Fatherhood. And I read, I will fully confess, I didn't read the entire thing. I read parts of it. And what I read was very great and my assistant Keli, however, read the entire thing and she loved it. So, um, so what inspired you to write the book Welcome To Fatherhood?

David: Well, I was, I was doing some workshops back in Omaha. Um, I partnered up with a lovely friend of ours. Uh, we were doing, uh, couples workshops called Bump To Baby, and I was doing the, uh, Welcome To Fatherhood as sort of like a breakout session for just the dads. And I think so much of the challenge that, you know, somebody like me and many of the mamas out there face also is that the dads, like the biggest complaint I hear is that dad just doesn't quite seem to get it. He's like, he's not really plugged into what's going on. He seems like, I know he wants to be helpful. And he always asked what he can do, but he just seems like really disconnected from the process and, and what would be more, you know, quote unquote, helpful and supportive. And so at doing those workshops, I was able to really kind of like fine tune some of the specific Big Ideas and Dad Tips that are in the book, but I, you know, it's one of those things like the people who need to go to the workshop, these expected dads don't know that they're the ones who need to be there.

David: And, you know, mom has got her hands full reading up all of her own stuff. And the last thing she needs is to have one more thing. She's kind of like, you know, kicking him in the pants about like, Hey, maybe we should take this workshop. So I looked at the book as an option. That was a lot, I think it was a great way for me to get really much more clear about what I thought was important, but also it's just an easier access point, you know, for a guy who's a little bit resistant or a little bit unsure, you know, walking into a workshop with some random dude, me, at the front and these other guys he doesn't know, it's a hard space for these guys to be vulnerable and be open to, uh, learning and being more receptive about some of these different topics.

David: But I think with a book format, it's a lot easier and I don't wanna say safer cause that seems to like, you know, overstate the risk, but it's a lot easier for guys to kind of sit down and he's got some time to himself and kind of flip through it and see if it, if, if a book is going to speak to him in a way that's going to resonate with him or if it's to like get his attention and also for the mamas out there, I think it's a lot easier for a mama just to kind of like if she, if she thinks her, her guy could use a little boost to, you know, to pass them a book or a link to an article, as opposed to like trying to cajole them to signing up for a workshop. And the workshop is a big commitment, energetically speaking, whereas a book is a pretty simple thing to get to.

Nicole: Absolutely. Yeah. And it's, the book is very, well-written, it's like an easy, straightforward read and the way you organize it also is great.

Nicole: Awesome. Awesome. Thank you.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And you, you refer to the book as WTF, which is shorthand for another expression. Is that intentional? After having done a little bit of research and reading about you, I think it was.

David: Well, Nicole, I want to keep things PG here on the show. But I'll confess the, uh, the alternative, uh, use of WTF, uh, probably happened to me as a thought about a thousand times between finding out we were pregnant with Justin that first go around and then that whole pregnancy, childbirth, and that first three months of maternity leave afterwards, you know, I had many, a moment where I was, you know, I'm doing my best. I'm trying, I'm like, I'm trying to find a way to make something work. And eventually I kind of found a S a S a S you know, quote, unquote solution. And then it became so obvious. I'm like, you know, WTF, why didn't anybody tell me this? Like, it's going to save me, you know, hours of, of struggle and whatnot. And you know, one of my, one of my favorite definition or my favorite examples of this is the, uh, is the code words Dad Tip. So something I talk about in there is that my wife and I figured out the system of using code words for green light, yellow light or red light.

David: And we went with, uh, we went with a, you know, refrigerator objects. We had an avocado for green, lemon for yellow, and tomato for red. And, you know, cause a good, a certain situation came up. We were at a, uh, we're at this ice cream shop and my wife is like 40 weeks and two. She's 40 and two pregnant, like quote unquote overdue. It's August, she's hot, she's mad. She wants to have the baby, she's stressed out. She's anxious. And so we're waiting for ice cream and this older couple comes up behind us and the lady without even skipping a beat, it's like, Oh my, I hope you don't have that baby right here. And I started cracking up. Cause I thought that was kind of funny, but I looked to Jen and Jen, like I could see, she literally almost started to cry and I was like, Oh, new plan, new plan, not laughing.

Nicole: Right.

David: And so I was like, Oh, Oh yeah, code words. I was, Hey babe, why don't you grab a seat on that bench across the street while I wait and get the ice cream for us. I know we need tomatoes, but can you work up the rest of the are a good grocery list for us? And she kind of glared at me. Cause at first she thought I was like trying to put her in time out or you know, something. And then she realized I was like giving her an easy out from having to stand there and this hot sunshine with these people that were kind of like, you know, innocently yet, you know, pointedly sort of like talking about her pregnancy. And she was like, ah, and I could just see her relax. She's like, that's a great idea. Thank you.

Nicole: Oh nice.

David: And she went and sat across the street. Nobody talked to her, nobody was, you know, remarking on her belly or anything. And that code words thing, we used a bunch of different times and it's, you know, I felt it made my life a lot easier cause it took sort of that guesswork out of like, Oh, you know, things change rapidly for mamas, especially later in the pregnancy with how they're feeling, what they want to do. And if I'm on the plan that we had 10 minutes ago, that may not be the right plan anymore. So we were able to use those code words back and forth to great effect. And that was something I was like, you know, I wish somebody would have told me that cause we could have, we could have been doing this for months now and had so much easier, uh, time with some of these social situations or out to dinner or getting tired of what any number of things could have been so much easier if she just gave me a code word rather than me trying to guess, or her like wanting to go home, but not wanting to be a party pooper. And you know, some of those different challenging situations you can find yourself in, especially socially speaking where having that code word really made a difference for us.

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. So why don't we get into a couple more tips and in the book, what would you say are your three favorite Dad Tips from the book?

David: I think, um, I think one of my favorite ones really is, is happens right off the bat. And that's kind of one or more of that informed side of the equation on the, on the Big Ideas, which is, uh, you know, women become mothers when they find out they are pregnant. Well, dads don't become dads until after the baby's born. And that, that may be historically, you know, more true than false. But I think most guys are unaware of that, uh, that sort of differentiation between their experiences. So I think who guys who really understand that like, look that Parenthood starts that positive pregnancy test. Mama's already tasked with eating right, sleeping right. Worrying about her vitamins and our, and avoiding sushi and which cheese to eat. And she's got a lot of like, she's taken care of that baby right now. And you need to be better connected to her in that process and not be like, Oh, hey babe, I'm going to go grab a beer.

David: I know you're not drinking, but I'm going to happen when it's never going to have a beer and relax while you're stressing about the, about what the baby's doing. Like that's not a, that's not a good look, you know? So I think dads need to plug right into that sort of like, um, that, that reality right away would be something I would say, definitely start with that. Um, another big one, especially in these, these COVID times where there's a lot of limitations on who could be present during childbirth and you might've previously been able to have like, you know, a doula and a birth photographer and your mom and her mom. And, but now it may just be just one person which is going to be you dad. So the, um, Big Idea number 10 is about that mantra of be, be calm and be competent. That is the main mantra for you as the dad, the support partner, and maybe the only partner in the room with her during, you know, it could be, it could be an extensive and, you know, tricky, challenging energy, energetic, childbirth experience. It's just you and mama. So yes. You know, I kind of get into some of the specific things, like what does that look like? Whether you're in the transition or, um, earlier labor or whatnot, but still like that, that energy you put out as dad of being attentive to mama, being calm, regardless of what's going on and being competent with whether it's, you know, helping her shift positions or massaging her back or getting her a sip of water or whatever it is like where you're there for her as her person to count on, um, is, is extremely important and a very powerful part of that birth story and that relationship going forward. Uh, so those two, I think, would be like right off the bat jump right in. And especially in these COVID times, if you're going to be the guy, the only person there, make sure you take that responsibility, you know, you know, I don't want to say seriously in the sense of like somber, but like that's a lot of responsibility on you. So definitely don't be the guy that thought he was going to kind of figure it out when he got there. And was just left in the dust, you know?

Nicole: Absolutely. Absolutely. You got one more for us, you think?

David: Sure. Um, I think one of my favorite ones is, uh, is Dad Tip number seven where I'm pretty, I'm pretty strong on this one, which is dude, hire a doula. A lot of, you know, a lot of what I talk about is sort of like suggestions or like, Hey man, you might want to think about this, but this one I'm like crystal clear on. I'm like please hire a doula. A doula um, is, is your wing man from heaven, is the way I phrase it in the book.

David: I know you're a, you're a big fan of doulas also. And I think it's important for guys to understand that this doula is a birth professional, not medically trained. She's more of like a psychological comfort coach type person. Um, but some somebody, your partner, your wife can really look to as a experienced big sister kind of person that can really be a source of comfort as well as, um, uh, expertise on like shifting positions or, or like a trusted helper that can be holding, you know, or her hand on the other side of the bed while you're on your side. Um, and honestly, for guys, like for me, my doula, the doula we had was a lifesaver for me. Like, you know, one of the big challenges I faced is the, you know, w we were committed to doing kind of a natural ish, uh, childbirth as possible. My wife was committed to going, you know, no meds and as kind of like low intervention as possible.

David: And we had a great OB, um, one of the doctors she worked with Kevin is just awesome. He's a, he's a, a world famous baby catcher has all his, uh, all his moms referred to him as. Um, but he was like super supportive to that process. But, you know, I was really worried cause like, you know, I tease Jenn sometimes, but if she stubs her toe, she goes down, like she got shot, like a sack of potatoes and she's screaming on the floor and I'm like, Oh my God. And I honestly, I was terrified. So I had to pull the doula aside, like, you know, we're, we're 38 weeks. We're getting close, I'm like, Okay. I gotta confess she can't, she can't like stub a toe without freaking out. And we're, we're trying to go natural childbirth. Like I really want to be supportive and like encouraging.

David: But the part of my brain that connects to reality is like, dude, she is not going to be able to push a watermelon out the size of a lemon. It's just not going to work like this is, this is there's no basis for me to be confident other than just wanting to be connected. And my doula was just like, David, I get it. Don't worry. Childbirth is a whole different realm of experience. And I have a ton of confidence in Jen and all the confidence you want to put in her is well-placed, she's going to be able to do it. And I'll be right there by your side. And I was like, okay, thank God, because I was not going to be really comfortable being, um, you know, being there and seeing her going through some of those more challenging moments and like, wondering if, you know, do I need, you know, do I need to be the one to be like, Hey, you know, is this too much pain?

David: Like, it really just kind of, I felt so comforted knowing that, that I had that doula as my wing man through the process to where I could kind of connect with her and check in with her when I was worried about what was going on. And, um, and ultimately like, you know, she was, Barb was just fantastic. And having her there allowed both Jen and I to relax and you know, that, that relaxing as much, you know, given the circumstances. Um, but anything you can do to counter that anxiety on all parties is just a huge win for everybody. So having that doula there, it was like, definitely dude, hire a doula. Not maybe a hire a doula or think about a doula, but if you do one thing, hire a doula.

Nicole: I, that is really interesting, your perspective because, you know, we know that doulas provide physical and emotional, emotional support for, for moms, but I never thought about the fact and it kind of brings up like, even though you're not physically going through the pregnancy, you still have concerns and you still have like, um, you know, questions and things like that. So it's a great outlet for you to get some of your own like emotional needs taken care of as well. And that's what a good doula will do for you.

David: Absolutely. And one of the things I want to add to that, Nicole, is that so much of what us guys tend to hear going through the pregnancy is that it's kind of our job to be the protector and sort of, especially during some of the more, um, intense parts of childbirth where mama may be somewhat disconnected from the room and, you know, you need to be her advocate and her sort of a protector. And, you know, that's, that's a lot of responsibility. Like I'm not, I'm not a trained OB. Like I don't know what I'm supposed to be like watching out for. And like when I should sort of like step in or when I should stand back and let the professionals do their job, you know? So, you know, having that doula there as somebody who's been through, you know, many births, depending on your own interviewing process, you could, you could have like a minimum of 10 or 20 or 50, whatever you want for your doula's qualifications, but somebody who's kind of been there and done that and got the t-shirt sort of thing really allowed me to relax.

David: Like during our first childbirth, I was, I was so stressed out, Nicole, like my legs were tired and I was like, Jen had like, you know, she was a little bit loud at times and she was screaming my hand and she was like, I can't hear anybody. I can't hear anybody. And they're trying to put an oxygen mask on her face and it was making her claustrophobic. And I'm like, I'm trying to like be attentive to her, but also like, when do I need to like tell this nurse to stand back or whatever. And so I looked back at Barb and Barb just kind of looked at me and she shook her head. She nodded and smiled at me. She's like, you're fine, you got this. And I finally was able to, just to not worry about what was happening in the room and only focus on Jan and be present for her and like, look into her eyes and say, you got this baby, the baby's almost here. I can't wait to meet our baby. You're amazing and awesome. And like really be in sync with her and not worry about what's going on in the room because the doula had my back, like that was critical to the rest of that experience. For me being able to relax into my proper role, which is supporting my, my wife during that moment.

Nicole: Oh, that is absolutely love it. Lovely. I love that. I love that. So I know that in addition to the book, you do workshops, you do one-to-one coaching and at the end, I'll, you know, you can tell everybody where they can find you, but I'm curious in all of your work, what is one of the, like most memorable moments that you've had in working with expectant dads or for yourself?

David: Sure. Great question. Um, I think one of the most powerful moments I have, it's one of, one of the first couple of workshops I was doing. Um, it was a small workshop. There's four guys there and, uh, one of the guys came in just a few minutes late and you could sort of tell, he was, he was like kind of annoyed he even had to be there. And as he, we sat down, we did an introductions and he mentioned that he was there because his wife had signed them up for it. And, um, th I could, you know, you could see he was, he was checking a box and not like open-eyed and like having his pen and his paper ready. But as the workshop went on, I could, I could see he was sorta like becoming more attentive. And, um, as we were telling our stories, he mentioned he was working for a firm and he was a young guy, but had been real successful to his firm and been really committed to putting the time and hours in to kind of prove to his bosses that he was somebody that they could count on. Like being, being somebody to be the he that could be counted on was clearly like a big part of his identity and his priorities. Um, so we got through the workshop and, uh, you know, the, this was one of like the two hour version. So it was pretty condensed and like, bing, boom, boom, boom, like kind of rolling through without too much time for, uh, processing and sharing. Like, how did that land for you? You know, so the workshop wraps up and I'm packing up, you know, my little, my papers and my materials and my computer and screen and whatnot. And I go outside and he's out, he's out front. And I was like, Oh, Hey, what's up man? And he's like, listen, David, I have to tell you that I am so glad I came here today.

David: Like coming into this, I mentioned, my wife signed me up and I was looking at my job as being the provider. Like I was planning on missing the least amount of time of work as possible to get back to work, to kind of keep on trying to make partner. And that's how I was going to take care of my family was, was be in that provider role. And after hearing, you know, some of the stories you talk about in the workshop and your experience of fatherhood, and I literally felt that change take place inside where I realized that being a great dad, which was my goal was much more about simply being present and showing up for my family and much less about like making partner or putting in, you know, 70 billable hours a week. And he's like, I, I, I can not wait to go home and tell my wife about how much more I'm focused on her, our pregnancy and our baby cause being a protector, I mean, being provider and protector is one thing, but being a parent is a much more important role. And he was literally had some like tears come his eyes. And I started tearing up too. Cause I was like, wow. You know, like here I am doing my, you know, doing my stick and talking about some of the things that were powerful for me with no real like, hope that I was actually going to have that big, an impact, but just feeling connected to him and so glad that he had that insight and that, that realization that day, rather than it being five or 10 or 15 years down the road and he's a partner, but he's, uh, he's got an empty house to come home to cause his family broke up cause he was never there and he missed birthdays and braces and all those fun things. So just to see that sort of sea change in him after a two hour workshop, I was like, wow, that was, that's really validating for, for me and the work that I'm putting out there that it can have that kind of impact on somebody.

Nicole: For sure. That is a really beautiful, beautiful story. And, and, and I can imagine you carrying that with you all, all the time. And also it's not just about like, it's not so much the, and I guess I'm paraphrasing for those of us who like do this because we just love the work. Like it's not, you're doing it for you is the fact that you see this thing in this other person and it's not like your accolades, but you really made a difference in someone else's like long-term life and maybe their relationship with their family. And that just feels really good. I totally, totally. Yeah. Yeah. So on the flip side, what's the frustrating thing or part about your work?

David: Ooh. Um, I think, well, I don't want to, I don't want to sound too critical here of sort of like the big, bad society in quotes, but I really feel that many of the current systems in place around pregnancy and childbirth and even new Parenthood just aren't as good as they could be true. I mean even many new moms get little if any maternity leave and it's even less for new dads out there. And, and it's kind of a shame, cause I think, you know, we've made a lot of progress. Like I know for when I was born, my dad was not allowed in the delivery room and he was only allowed to visit me for a half hour a day under strict nurse supervision. And that was it. And like we're so far past that, but still I feel we have S we have, there's so much potential, just sort of like waiting for us to step further into that birth space and bring dads in more support. Mama's like so many mamas are not getting that support that they need from their, uh, you know, their caregivers around them, especially that postpartum period has become more of a focus of mine. Like, you know, they have the baby and they go home and, and, and then what, you know, the, all that attention they were getting just sort of disappears. And, you know, people talk a lot about postpartum, uh, depression, but postpartum anxiety is a big thing also. And it's really easy to be overwhelmed as, as new parents, moms and dads with everything that's going on and just kind of not having the social systems around you to fully support that and really invest in those, those, you know, those first few months and beyond of every new child's life. So I get kind of frustrated about the pace of that change, but, you know, I'm always kind of like a raring to go kind of guy. So I'm, I'm used to being a little bit frustrating with frustrated with things moving more slowly around me than I would like them to do, but it does get me sometimes.

Nicole: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. So then last thing, what's your favorite piece of advice that you would give to expectant dads?

David: Well, I'd say first of all, um, remember to have fun on this journey and enjoy each phase that you're on it together, like sure. There's a lot of serious things and there's, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a, an important topic, but that doesn't mean there can't be lots of moments of fun and levity and really connecting in with mama and enjoying that journey together like that first pregnancy. And first childbirth is never going to be repeated. Uh, you may have other children and other pregnancies, but this first one is going to be so unique experientially that I would say, you know, drink deep from that cup, like really get in there and have fun with it. Um, but I think that the more specific thing for the dads would be just to put a lot of your focus and attention into mama and really try to connect with her like this is, this may be many mom has experienced this pregnancy as a very, you know, very profoundly transformative time period.

David: And you want to be, you want to be as present for that as possible because it's such a powerful, uh, time of her life and bringing a new baby into the world. And like, you really don't, you don't want to look back on that with too many things of, I wish I did this differently. So really just jump right in and really get in there. Cause like I said before, Parenthood starts at that positive pregnancy test and the time to kind of be a good teammate, isn't quote unquote, when the baby gets here, it's, you know, it's yesterday. So jump right in and, and really embrace that role and kind of really own it, you know?

Nicole: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, David, you have provided such great information. I know that both moms and dads are going to find this episode really, really useful. So tell us where can people find you? Where can people grab your book, tell us all those things.

David: First of all, thanks so much for having me on today, Nicole. It's been a great pleasure to, to get into these ideas and, and really kind of explore, bringing more attention and help to those dads out there that're looking for a little extra guidance, um, but you can find me online at www.welcometofatherhood.com. I got some excerpts from the book on there. All kinds of resources are on there for free, uh, links to articles about everything from ultrasounds to birth plans and go bags, all kinds of fun stuff that you may or may not have already looked into. Um, you can email me directly, uh, to David@welcometofatherhood.com and the book's available on Amazon. You can get it in either paperback or Kindle. I'm still getting the final touches on the audio book. I know a lot of guys really enjoy that format for throwing in the car on their way to and from work or whatnot. And finally, I'm not very active on Facebook, but I am on there. Um, you can find me on there too. I'm always happy to connect any way you guys want to reach out and mama's too, like, I'm always happy to kind of kind of chat to the moms a little bit like, Hey, you know, tell me what's going on with dada. And I can, maybe I can maybe give you a couple of tips to help get him more in sync with where you are. So anybody feel free to reach out.

Nicole: Well, thank you. And are you still doing, like, I know COVID is like turned the world upside down, but are you still doing like one-to-one virtual coaching or workshops or anything like that?

David: Yeah, the COVID thing has really, um, thrown a wrench in and pretty much, I mean, everybody has their own versions of that, but I took some time off in the workshops to write the book. Um, but I'm definitely back into that. I'm in some conversation, um, with a few different groups about putting together a virtual workshop that is, uh, like a series of six, one hour presentations where I kind of work my way through the book and um, building out what that might look like and how to break it down. So I don't have anything currently on offer. Um, but I'm always happy to do a one-on-one coaching via Zoom. Um, I had a guy contact me a little while back who was that they were in their like 39th week of pregnancy and he had a realization of how totally unprepared and just out of touch he was. And he was, we were literally panicking. Um, so we had a little two hour conversation and kind of caught up some of the basics and brought them up to speed and gave him some good tools he really felt, uh, much better about, so I'm always happy to help the dads out there. You know, it's, it's in the best interest of everybody to have dads a little bit more connected to the mama's journey and prepared for what's coming up.

Nicole: Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, again, thank you David so much for being here. I so appreciate your time.

David: Thanks Nicole. Thanks for all the good work you put out there too. I really appreciate another quality opinion out there. Thank you so much.

Nicole: Thanks.

Nicole: So didn't you enjoy that episode? Wasn't that lovely? As I said, I just got a good feeling from David and his like energy coming through that he's just coming from a place of really wanting to help people and wanting to be of service. So, um, enjoyed the episode and we actually talked about having him come back on and talk about more of a focus on the postpartum period. So stay tuned for that. All right. Now, after every episode I do something called Nicole's Notes where I talk about my top three or four takeaways from the episode in the conversation. So here are my Nicole's Notes from my conversation with David. Number one is that dads can and should be involved in pregnancy birth and caring for baby. I know this goes without saying, but it's going to be said again, like dads can and should be involved. We, we have come a long way in terms of where our society is, but we still have some ways to go in things like paternity leave.

Nicole: And, um, just, just like not looking at dads as babysitters, but looking at dads as parents. Now, I know one of the ways that this has been a bit of a struggle recently that I've heard lots of folks say in my course community, is that dads have been having a hard time connecting to pregnancy because they haven't been permitted to go to the prenatal appointments. And that's because the COVID and that's been a disappointment. I can't say that I have like a big answer or response for that. Other than you can certainly have dad on the phone, you can certainly have dad like via video chat, but I know that it's really, really, really tough. Um, and then those types of things don't make it easy for dads to be involved, but in general, dads can and should be involved in pregnancy birth and that postpartum period in caring for baby. Number two, I love the code words like the signals that you need some support during your pregnancy or just in general.

Nicole: So I thought that those code words were really like helpful and an easy way and things that you could do to kind of communicate and have that language when you need support, need to be bailed out of a situation that can work, not just in social situations, but if you're in the middle of a phone call that you need to get out of, or if, you know, you have some visitors, those limited visitors that you have with parents after, after birth, just kind of navigating those situations. So I really thought that code word analogy was pretty cute. And then the last thing is I will echo hiring a doula. Doulas provide physical and emotional support during labor. And they're just a great investment and they help improve outcomes. They help increase vaginal birth rates, decrease pain medication, shorten labor. So doulas are a good thing overall.

Nicole: And as David mentioned they're a support for both mom and partner. So um always a good investment. I tell people that you can put that on your, um, baby list registry or on your registry and you can use Baby List. I'm not affiliated with Baby List at all, but Baby List allows you to put anything you want on a baby registry. So that's a great way to ask for like contributions to a doula, either to have both during pregnancy and the postpartum period or, or just even during birth. Now, one of the things I cover in the Birth Preparation Course, that is my online childbirth education class that ensures you are calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth, in that course, I provide a whole list of questions to interview a doula and what to look for and what not to look for all of those good, great things.

Nicole: So of course there's more to it in the course than that, but that's one of the features and highlights that folks love. And if you want to learn more about the Birth Preparation Course, then do check that out at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. All right. So there you have it, please be sure to subscribe to the podcast if you're not already subscribed in Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify, wherever you're listening to me right now. And, uh, I would really appreciate it if you leave review, especially in Apple Podcast. And when you leave those reviews, they're really important to help the show grow. They're really important to help other women find the show. And then I also do shout outs from time to time from those reviews. So I do so certainly appreciate you taking your time to leave those. And as I mentioned earlier, do check out that free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works so that you can have the beautiful birth that you want, that free class is at drnicolerankins.com/birth-plan. All right. So that is it for this episode, do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth.

Nicole: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class, on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next week.