Pregnant Ladies, Back Off Your Husband

Christie Haskell

Don't abuse him.
This is a big change for him too.
Midnight ice cream runs, partnering in your birth class, asking him to feel your belly move again for the twelfth time in an hour, throwing yet another article at him he just HAS to read, building a crib, installing a car seat -- all part of what lots of us think our husbands need to do when we're pregnant.

We really want our husbands to be involved. But being the husband to a pregnant woman can sometimes be really trying on a guy and your relationship. Especially if you take advantage of him.

I found out I was pregnant with Rowan at 13 weeks. My husband and I had only been married for six months. We had a lot to learn, and not a lot of time to do it (I'm still learning every day, six-and-a-half years later). I had no experience with babies or pregnant women, and at that time I didn't even have the Internet available (the horror!), so all I knew was what my OB/GYN told me, what my books and magazines said, and what I felt.

Like a lot of first time moms, I made my husband attend every single doctor's appointment that he could with me, despite the fact that all that happened at most was they checked my weight and listened to the heartbeat -- super exciting for me, not so much for him. As he said, "With all your complaining about movement and kicking, I knew the baby was alive. I didn't need to hear the heartbeat to confirm it!" Second pregnancy, he came to two appointments, and we both were happier that way.

During my first pregnancy, my husband went out on his first submarine deployment, and I flew back home to my family, to have a baby shower. Suddenly, Pregnant Christie was in a spotlight I'd never experienced before -- I was the center of attention, a lot. It was really neat, and so many people wanted to know how I was feeling, wanted to know if I needed a drink or was tired and needed to sit, wanted to feel my belly once I thought I felt kicking ... it was a whole new experience.

Once we both were back home, my husband would feel my belly occasionally, but got irritated when I'd ask repeatedly (though in retrospect, I don't blame him one bit). He didn't want to read every book and magazine I poured over while he was at work, but just wanted me to tell him the important parts. At one point I complained that I didn't think he cared, and he said, "It's not that you don't think I care; it's that you want someone to match YOUR enthusiasm, and I can't do it." Frankly, he was spot-on. It was true! I had a reality check that I wasn't the center of the universe even though I was pregnant.

While I was day-dreaming about whether my baby was going to have blue eyes like me or green eyes like my husband, he was thinking about how much diapers were going to cost and how hard work was going to be when we'd been up all night.

He couldn't feel every kick, and didn't have the hormones surging through him. It wasn't a change he could feel the way I did. He could see it happening and think about it, but it wasn't the same for him as it was for me, and first time around, I really didn't respect or understand that.

My pregnancy with Rowan was really easy, except I couldn't stand in check-out lines without feeling like I'd pass out so I'd sit on a bench while he'd pay. At that point we still shopped together -- we don't anymore because he likes to be quick and I don't like to rush it, so we ruined it for each other ... much like the numerous doctor's appointments.

My second pregnancy was more enjoyable for him because I made an effort to explain to him what he needed to know, not what I wanted him to know (which would be everything). I asked him what he was comfortable doing with me, and what he wanted to do, and we talked about how I was feeling or what I needed from him in a respectful way -- much like at any other point in a marriage.

Especially with him being gone the first pregnancy, I really valued having him around at all and realized how much just him being there when I needed him was worth. A fact I think a lot of women who haven't gone without their partner take for granted. Though I do try to remind myself if I hadn't gone 90-120 days without speaking to or seeing my husband once, I might be a little more like the typical pregnant women -- but in a way, I'm kind of glad I'm not. I've got a lot of value put in the things that really matter and not so much in the things that don't, and I never take my husband just BEING here for granted.

Anyway, with my second pregnancy baking little miss Aurora, by the end, I was downright miserable and in pain. It was during those times that I asked him to go to the store for me or do dishes for me. I asked when I needed it only, and I thanked him. I absolutely cannot relate to women who are in the easy part of their pregnancy insisting on their husband going to the store at 1 a.m. for ice cream. No matter how bad you're craving, you don't need it that much (and if you do, you can drive yourself -- you're pregnant, not broken). If you're lucky enough to have a relationship where this isn't a big deal, make sure you are grateful, thank him profusely, and remember that he's doing you a huge favor -- it's not in his job contract.

Remember that your husband is trying to be involved, and each guy is going to be comfortable with a different level of involvement. Help him find his role and let him be where he wants to be, but don't push him or resent him because he's not as excited as your mom or your friends -- they don't have to pay for another mouth to feed or change diapers at 3 a.m. either. If you have a husband who is incredibly involved and wants to be a part of everything, feel grateful, but understand not all men (or women) are created equal, and especially with surprise pregnancies, guys can have a hell of a lot on their plate ... and sometimes you need to ask him what HE wants on occasion, rather than making everything about you.

Besides, once the baby comes, you're going to need his help -- you don't want him already resenting hearing you say, "Oh honey?"

How did your husband handle you being pregnant the first time?


Image via amrufm/Flickr

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