Emperor penguin dads sit on an egg and eat nothing but snow for 4 months.
Emu dads also sit on a nest and don’t eat anything for 2 months.
Poison frog dads gives dozens of little tadpoles a ride to a pond and then watches over them for 3 months to keep them from harm while they turn into froglets.
Seahorse dads are basically the ones who get pregnant and carry the many, many eggs until they are developed.
Jawfish dads protect their eggs in their mouths and occasionally spits them out and sucks them back in so they get the oxygen they need.
And jackal dads bring nursing moms all their meals until the pups are big enough to leave her, then he takes care of the pups while she hunts for herself.
Meanwhile, the human dad gains sympathy weight, fetches mid-night cravings from the local (or not so local) fast food joint, suffers through a thermostat set to something way too hot (or cold depending on the time of year). He rides the roller coaster of mood swings and talks sense to his emotional wife when she cries about getting “fat.” He takes the kids out to the park when mom needs an extra afternoon nap and fetch cookies and ice cream when she is too big to get off the couch without an uncomfortable amount of effort.
And then he sits helplessly by as his wife breathes deeply and relaxes (or maybe moans and clenches her teeth and fists) as her body contracts again and again and again. He may be white-faced, sitting there next to the bed, where he may be recruited to hold a foot while she pushes. Or he stands, unshaken and calm, offering words of comfort: “You’re doing great. That was a big one, but you handled it well. It won’t be long now.” Once the baby out, he must be in two places at once, checking on the baby and assuring his wife that she is okay, looking good, nice and pink and squirmy.
When they are home, he’ll pull the meals out of the freezer and fix them just the way his wife planned. He’ll get up with the baby and try to soothe it for as long as he can, giving his wife an extra 10 or 20 or 30 minutes of sleep between feedings. And then he’ll collapse into bed for another hour or two, until the baby wakes again and his wife, too tired, doesn’t hear its cries.
At least that has been my experience (minus the white-faced stint next to the delivery bed). How about yours?
Also, thanks to this month’s issue of Ranger Rick magazine for all the animal fun facts.