I don't know who first started saying phrases like, "We're pregnant," and "Our pregnancy is going well," but I find it hard to believe it was a pregnant woman. I understand the sentiment — it's great to include your partner in the experience, for sure. And I want to include my husband as much as possible too. That's why I make him feel my belly every time the baby moves, and why I tell him everything I read or know about pregnancy, and forward him all of my weekly pregnancy e-mail updates, etc. Because yes, by all means, this is our baby, and I want him to feel that deeply. But the physical pregnancy — that's ALL me. Here's why:
- My husband can miss prenatal appointments. If I'm not there, however, they're fairly impossible to accomplish.
- My husband feels just fine these days. I'm the one who's exhausted and aching.
- My husband still fits into his wardrobe, while I burst out of mine long ago.
- My husband can go up stairs at his usual pace. I, on the other hand, am huffing and puffing on my way up the stairs from the train more and more each day.
- My husband can sleep through the night, while I either lie awake tossing and turning, or get up to pee multiple times throughout my husband's deep sleep.
- My husband can be mildly disturbed by the birth videos we've seen in our birthing class (specifically the images of babies crowning as moms deliver), but I'm the one who has to feel it.
- My husband can conveniently forget to give me a massage, while I am unable to forget the searing pains in my back that keep me from walking.
- My husband can have no idea if I'm taking my prenatal vitamin regularly or that I've upped my dose of DHA and EPA supplements (omega-3 fatty acids), but I'm the one who has to remember to take them every day.
- My husband can skip the breastfeeding class. I, however, am obligated to go.
- My husband has no problem keeping up with his usual workouts. I'm the one who has reduced my exercise regimen to a pathetic pace.
- My husband can forget we're having a baby in March ("No, Dear, you can't go to an out-of-town bachelor party the weekend of February 29th — don't you remember we have a monumental delivery we'll be expecting around then?"). I, on the other hand, have planned my entire life and every thought around our March due date — so much so that anything I'm asked to do that will happen remotely around that time is out of the question.
- My husband can drink alcohol and eat raw sushi. Need I say more?
In other words, I don't know who decided that it was politically correct to pretend that the "burden" of pregnancy falls equally on both partners — because it doesn't, no matter how supportive the partner is. I have to admit, though, that even though I'm uncomfortable a lot, I don't think of my pregnancy as a "burden" by any means. In fact, I am REALLY glad that I'm the one who gets to experience this so profoundly. I am eternally grateful that I'm the one who gets to feel the baby move inside me for months before I officially meet her. I'm forever thankful that I get to feel intimately close to this new life from the very beginning, and that my hormones make me flush with overwhelming love and tears at the mere thought of holding her in my arms for the first time. I'm even grateful that I get to experience and feel birth — what an amazing, transforming, life-altering adventure that will be.
So, no, my husband hasn't had to deal with all I've had to deal with — but sadly for him, he also doesn't get to fully understand the rewards I'm reaping. To make it up to him then, when the baby arrives, I will do everything in my power to help him feel connected to her — to help him feel all that I already feel. It's only fair after all I've already gotten out of the deal.