It wasn’t like we didn’t talk about it.
Before we even got married, we had many conversations about the size of our potential family.
The overarching theme of these conversations was:
Me: I don’t know… 1 or 2 kids sounds like the right number…
Him: We’ll have as many as we can afford! (Meaning way more than I was thinking)
Me: K……yeah, we’ll see…
But, prior to this most recent pregnancy, we had a series of very different and very clear conversations.
Me: I’m ready to have another baby.
Him: I don’t know.
Me: I know myself and I won’t be happy if we don’t have 1 more.
Him: We’ll talk about it more tomorrow.
And so it went for about 2 years until he finally relented.
I promptly finished my month of birth control pills, looked up an ovulation app, and ta-dah! 2 months later I was pregnant.
What can I say? We’re fertile people.
I was overjoyed. He….well, he was silent.
The response I got was frosty at best.
I was elated, but he could not share in my joy. For him, this was all too fast. For me, it was a long time coming.
And, so the next 9 months have gone.
Me, preparing for our newest addition; him, silently punishing me for something that we had agreed on.
I’m not naive. I realize that though he “agreed,” he didn’t really “agree.” And, truth be told, I was surprised at how fast I got pregnant too. I know people that had to try and try for years to get pregnant after getting off of birth control, so I did figure that we would have more time for him to get used to the idea.
On top of the shock and life change, I can also recognize that he was experiencing a depressive episode that he was not seeking help for. And, because of the pregnancy, he wasn’t accepting help from me.
He said, out loud, “I know that I’ll be happy when the baby gets here, but I also know that I’m punishing you right now. I know it’s not right, but I’m doing it anyway. It won’t be forever, I’m just trying to work my way through this.”
While I appreciate the honesty, that’s probably the most hurtful thing that anyone has ever said to me. I’m doing my best to give him grace, but as I get closer and closer to delivery, I am less and less able to tolerate it.
And, things have started to get better. I’ve done my best to give him his space. I haven’t demanded too much of him in regards to baby preparation and now that we’re closer, he’s becoming more excited and is doing the preparation things like setting up the baby’s room and talking about names and daycare.
But, I can’t say that this hasn’t been hard.
During my first pregnancy, I was able to shoot my joy everywhere like a freaking Care Bear. I enjoyed every minute of the pregnancy. I felt good, my partner was supportive, and life was great.
This time around, I feel physically wonderful but also isolated as heck. The second time around is harder anyway. There’s not as much help and attention available from the outside world. The general feeling that I felt from others was “girl, you got this! You rocked it the first time, so the second time is a piece of cake.”
So, without doting from others and no attention at home, this has been, in some respects, a very lonely time for me. I don’t really have the freedom to do whatever I want for my own self-care because I have another little person already relying on me to get them to activities and make sure that their needs are taken care of.
And, it felt embarrassing to tell anyone else what was going on. I felt like I was the only one in the world who’s partner couldn’t share in this joy of new life.
Even though my heart was struggling with all of these things, my head knows that I’m not alone in this experience. I can’t be.
Here are a few things that I have done in the last few months to take care of me while my partner gets his “business” together.
On social media, I un-followed the happy pregnant and married people who do a lot of over the top lovey-dovey postings.
Maybe that sounds petty, but I had to for my mental health. Eventually, I’ll follow them again, but it was like a stab in the gut when I see a wife talk about the wonderful dates that her husband takes her on or the prenatal spa day that another’s husband was planning for her. I just can’t see that right now. Not until things get much better. And, though I know that people only put the best out there, right now I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with all of that.
I was feeling guilty for getting a babysitter to have “me time.” But I need it. So, in the last few months of pregnancy, I’m making those pre-natal massage appointments and whatnot. I am making an active effort to use the support that I have available. Would it be nice if someone handled all that for me? Yes. But, I need it to happen, so I’m going to make it happen.
Speak my mind
I was initially silently suffering while giving my partner his space. The way that he deals with conflict is to disengage. I silently suffered for months. But then I stopped. If we are to ever get past this, we will have to talk about it. It’s not like the baby will appear and magically fix what has been clearly brewing for months now. And, after the initial hurt has worn off from the “I know I’m punishing you” conversation, we have begun to have productive conversations about the changes that are about to occur, both wonderful and challenging. I feel less punishment and more excitement.
Talk to your tribe.
I was so completely embarrassed that I kept all of this pain that I was feeling to myself. I kept thinking “who’s would do this to their pregnant partner?” and on the other side of the spectrum “how could you completely misread the situation and do this? This is your fault!” The perfectionist in me didn’t want to admit any hint of failure. But, the isolation got to me and I realized that I had to do more than write about it in my journal.
So, I chose wisely.
I have only spoken to a few select friends and family about what has happened. To many others, things have been perfectly fine. But to these few that I have trusted, they have been lifesavers. They have not only given me a sounding board, but have normalized some of what has been happening. And, I know that they can be there for me right now in my time of need without judging my partner in the future. They are supporting me while also giving him the grace he needs to move through as well.
When I didn’t feel comfortable talking to others, I searched out message boards, in particular on the What to Expect When You’re Expecting website. And, wouldn’t you know it? There were a ton of message boards on this very topic. This made me feel so much less alone, even more so than talking to people I knew. There are tons of people, both men and women, who are struggling through a pregnancy emotionally alone. There was a lot of encouragement on those boards. They gave me the hope that things wouldn’t always be this way.
Every day gets a little better. And, I’ve learned so much about myself and my partner as we’ve gone through this. I can’t say that I would change anything because we are coming out stronger on the other side. Now that our new arrival has come, things actually are better. That doesn’t erase the memories of the hardships of many months before baby, but I’m healing and we’re all growing, together as a family. And that’s what life is really about. Change, evolution, forgiveness and do it all again.