Cover image for Expecting : one man's uncensored memoir of pregnancy
Expecting : one man's uncensored memoir of pregnancy
Churchwell, Gordon.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 296 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RG525 .C625 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Gordon Churchwell his a
problem he's never faced before--
his wife, Julie, is pregnant.

"What is happening to me? It's 6:30 A.M. My Wife is peeing on what looks like a scale model of the spaceship from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's an early pregnancy test called something like First Alert, or Early Response, some name that sounds like a smoke detector or a piece of EMS equipment."

From this unavoidable physiological fact follows the greatest psychological crisis of his life, a story that eventually illuminates the journey of all men and women as they make the passage to becoming parents.

What really goes through a "pregnant" man's mind? Combining his personal story with interviews with doctors, midwives, evolutionary scientists, and other fathers-to-be, Gordon Churchwell delivers the gritty, intimate details, as well as important new information, in an irreverent style that mixes poignancy, wit, and laugh-out-loud humor.

He covers all the issues without flinching. On relationships: "There are moments when you are not just individuals trying to solve a personal problem, but representatives of your gender, acting out some social drama. Over Julie's shoulder I see a chorus of angry women. . . ."

On sex: "While the party line is that Julie remains 'my beautiful partner to whom I am devoted,' to Mr. Weenie, she is beginning to look like Danny DeVito in Batman Returns. . . ."

On why men find change difficult: "Why do I feel like a bystander in the most important 280 days of my life? Where are the stories that make a man feel like he's in it, and not out of it? The answer is simple. When it comes to the stories of fatherhood, our culture has discarded them."

When he starts having morning sickness, Churchwell turns science detective and makes some startling discoveries: He finds out that male pregnancy symptoms are extremely common and uncovers evidence of a physiological paternal response-men have hormonal changes, too, which help prepare them emotionally for fatherhood.

Does nature make fathers out of men? Working with a leading evolutionary psychologist, Churchwell argues for a revolutionary new perspective on a man's role in reproduction. Parental investment on both sides is not automatic. Pregnancy behavior is part of a continual process of negotiation about parental commitment. A man's response to pregnancy, including sympathetic symptoms, may signal his plans about investing in the child. His behavior can directly affect the mother's own response, including the quality of her maternal care.

By showing that men have a physiological transformation of their own that integrates them into the biology of the family, Churchwell restores men to the story of reproduction.

Expecting is an important contribution to the new literature of fatherhood that will amuse and inspire men and women as they transform themselves into parents. This personal story ends where it began, with him and his wife, Julie, struggling-this time as a team-through a harrowing thirty-five-hour birth ordeal, and welcoming their daughter, Olivia, into the world.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this lively memoir, Churchwell presents two books in one (twins, if you like): a funny, honest account of a regular guy's response to his wife's first pregnancy and a serious investigation of this "weird juncture" in the history of the family, when some men are trying to find ways to participate more directly in child-rearing. A typical "expectant zombie-father," Churchwell gestates into a man who asks challenging questions about why fathers are the "forgotten parent." He finds that "the typical American birthing experience for most of the 20th century is nothing to brag about" and that pregnancy, experienced as a crisis by so many men, can be "ground zero for many relationship problems." His inquiry into couvade (male "pregnancy") leads him to suggest that this crisis arises because men have "disappeared from the story of the family" and are not taken seriously as participants in a pregnancy. If they are not "invited early on into the process, is it any wonder that many men find it difficult to step into the sacred circle of parenting later on?" he asks. Myths and rituals that once helped us cope with what we could not control have been replaced by science, our "sole storyteller." One of this memoir's strengths is that Churchwell uses science to tell the story of "paternal response," a psychological complement to the biological changes experienced by pregnant women that might enable both partners to "transcend the gender boundaries that confine pregnancy and parenting roles." Agent, Elaine Markson. 5-city author tour; 25-city radio tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Churchwell, creator of the Hometown Discovery Project, an interdisciplinary, multimedia educational model in Grahamsville, NY, recounts nine months of expectant fatherhood in a unique and witty manner. Initially, he was simply "trying very hard to feel excited about the pregnancy." As he explored his role, however, he found that in addition to being deeply spiritually and emotionally moved, other "men who experience pregnancy and birth are marked permanently by a biological transformation." During this transformation, called couvade syndrome, males exhibit signs of pregnancy. Churchwell surveys current research and describes how emotional, psychological, and behavioral changes in men take on physiological symptoms. When reading this in conjunction with Armin Brott's The Expectant Father (LJ 3/1/95), dads-to-be will feel well prepared for pregnancy. Highly recommended for all libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.