A: Are you going to be able to be back for the birth? If so, taking a childbirth class before you come home would be a good idea. If you can’t make it back, calling, e-mailing and flowers will certainly help. Other than that, make a tape of yourself reading a few children’s stories that your wife can play (loudly) to start getting the baby used to your voice before he or she is born. You might also want to buy some baby clothes or toys – preferably things that are available only where you are – and send them home. Whatever you do, remember that your wife needs to know not only that you miss her, but that you’re really looking forward to being a dad and that you want to be as involved as you can.

Q My girlfriend and I are having our first child together and she gets crabby at me all the time for no reason. She thinks I don’t love her or that I think she is ugly. I am a fairly patient person but the way she makes me feel is getting almost unbearable. What should I do?

A: You’re writing about an incredibly common phenomenon. First, don’t give up on your girlfriend. As much of a cliche as it is, the truth is that her hormones really are influencing her thoughts and behavior. The good news is that eventually she’ll calm down.

You didn’t mention how far along she is. Her attitudes toward you will change throughout the pregnancy, with her need for love, support, reinforcement, and reassurance growing as she gets bigger and closer to delivering. What’s ironic is that her behavior is making it hard for you to give her the very things she wants. In the meantime, do everything you can to reassure her that you do love her, find her attractive, that you’re serious about being a dad, and that you’re in it for the long haul. Spoil her a little, take her out to dinner or away for a romantic weekend. If that’s not possible, give her a massage and rent a few videos. The point is to make her feel comfortable and secure.

Armin Brott’s most recent books are “The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year, Second Edition” and “Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change.”

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