Every day it seems like I'm faced with something new to adjust to - a new pain, a new limitation, a new craving, discomfort, fear, or idea. Being pregnant is an ongoing series of adjustments - much, I expect, like being a parent is bound to be. While this can all make my life pretty challenging, now and then I stop to consider how it might affect the man who lives with me.
Of course, when I say "now and then" I certainly don't mean often. Most of the time I can be pretty callous about my husband's discomforts. In fact, hearing him complain about being tired, sore, or suffering from indigestion, can sometimes make me say things I later regret. "Who you tellin'?!" gets thrown around a lot. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I just want to smack that man silly.
But every now and then I do wonder - what is this like for him? He knows there is a baby on the way. He's watched my belly grow, felt little kicks through my skin, and he's been present at all but one prenatal appointment. He sat right next to me during every weird birthing video and every lecture on childbirth. The man knows all the terminology, from mucus plugs to episiotimies.
I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge that not all men would be so supportive. As far as partners go, I know that I'm lucky. I wonder if he feels the same way?
I mean, living with me has it's challenges, even when I'm not pregnant. Now that I'm knocked up, I'm a lot more demanding. First of all, I eat EVERYTHING. No snack is safe from the ravenous appetite of my third trimester. The poor guy goes to make a sandwich before work only to find that I've polished off the bread at some point during the night.
Then there's the whole bending over thing. Since my contractions started, I've pretty much given up on anything that requires me to bend down. As a result, "Honey can you ______?" has replaced a number of my usual chores.
And, of course, I'm moody, unpredictable, and sometimes inconsolable. For the most part, I stay pretty chipper, but every week or so I'm hit with a new wall of hormones and shit. gets. real. There's crying, plenty of crying, and my anxiety is often let out by rattling my worries off to Scott, over and over. Other times I'm just kind of mean. Since there are only two people in the house, you can guess who I'm usually being mean to. (The poor dog also gets a share of my impatience. STOP BARKING!!)
Those are the bad days. On the good days I keep one eye on the clock, waiting for Scott to get home. Work is a drag, so I look forward to him coming home every day, and every day I jump him, expecting an immediate reciprocation of joy, affection, and enthusiasm. Sounds nice, but imagine if you are that tired guy, coming home after a crappy day of work. It's hard to switch from gloom to sunshine just because your wife is happy to see you.
On top of all this, he's still expected to be crazy about me, despite my moods, needs, and expectations. I still want him to look at me like he did before I had an enormous belly. The body he's used to being attracted to has been transformed. It's not just the belly, either. Everything has changed, and in some of the most sensitive places. When he hugs me he can only get so close. The baby between us keeps him at a distance. It's his job to act like he enjoys it all just as much as ever, but can he? How would I feel if he suddenly changed shape?
I also wonder how real this all feels to him. I'm often confounded by the idea that I'm about to be a mother, that this squirmy, kicking being inside me is, in fact, my own baby. If it's that hard for me to process reality when life is literally growing inside me, how can he possibly be prepared? I ask him if he can even believe it and all he can say is "Yeah. Of course I can."
I feel like this has all gone by in an instant. He says he feels like I've been pregnant forever. I'm up at night worrying about becoming a parent. He approaches the entire thing with some kind of mystical machismo, confident in our innate ability to care for a tiny infant.
Once I was talking to him about infertility, and how powerful the drive to have a baby could be in a woman. When your body and your soul decides that it needs to be a mother, that feeling can be all-encompassing. It's an urge that screams to be fulfilled. I said that I thought it was puzzling that men didn't feel that same urge, and I wondered why he, specifically, a man who certainly wanted kids, wasn't equally destroyed by the prospect of not being able to have them.
He told me that he felt like women had their bodies to tell them if they needed a child, the urge to create, but that he thought men were different. Men, he said, can't understand how much they need their children until they have them, then suddenly they have a purpose, a meaning in their life that wasn't there before. The male urge comes after the baby, the urge to provide, protect, and nurture.
He said that if we really couldn't have kids of our own that it would hurt, but he could get past it. On the other hand, if he were unable to care for any kids that we did have, if he were to fail them, that would kill him in the same way that infertility was killing me.
Yeah, so maybe I should forgive him for not rubbing my feet. He's a good guy.