I’m a very independent person, so I don’t like asking for help. Yes, I know that's not a particularly redeeming trait. But being pregnant taught me that I really do need to lean on other people. The little things my partner did that proved he appreciated me during my pregnancy were impactful. I was used to being self-sufficient for so long, that his gestures were not only thoughtful but life-changing in how they made me view parenthood. I was part of a team that would have to co-parent our children, no matter what happened with our romantic partnership.
10 years after the birth of our first child, I’m still glad I have someone to raise her with. Lately, our kids have been bickering a lot and it tries my nerves, especially at the end of a long workday. So I ask to tap out, calling out to my husband to step in so I can put myself in a time out by myself in order to cool off. I appreciate not just having another adult in the house to tag-team caregiving responsibilities with, but having someone who is as equally invested in our children’s wellbeing as I am.
I’m as grateful for my husband today as I was when I was pregnant, and he would do these little things that showed how appreciative he was of me:
We’re New Yorkers, so we only know how to walk quickly. “Taking our time” is not our thing, except it had to be my thing when I was in my third trimester and couldn’t get around that fast. My husband totally slowed down for me and never made me feel like I was holding him back. That’s a pretty big gesture, when your tendency is to speed-walk through the city.
He let me hold the register gun, then deferred to me as we wandered around Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us. It was one of the most meaningful gifts ever. Although, you could say he was just covering his ass so he wouldn’t have to take the blame when some of the baby gear we purchased turned out to be a huge pain in the butt (I’m looking at you, singing mobile that would mysteriously go off in the middle of the night).
When I was pregnant the smell of raw broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes were repugnant to me. He was careful never to come at me with a salad.
Though I was pretty nauseous for most of my first trimester, and would get too uncomfortable eating large amounts in my third trimester, I was insatiable in my second semester. I would help myself to my husband’s plate, after I cleared off mine. He was very accommodating. And probably hungry.
I never doubted my husband’s strength before I was pregnant, but I appreciated it more when I was carrying a baby. I always worked out and prided myself on being strong, but as it got increasingly unsafe for me to lift things as I progressed through my pregnancy, his brawniness paid off. I was particularly grateful after a grocery run, when our elevator was out, or when the mood struck me to rearrange the furniture in the baby’s room (which was not an infrequent event in my nesting stage).
I didn’t love taking childbirth classes, but I felt we had to do it so we could make sure we were getting educated. After all, I had never given birth before, so I felt like I should probably, at the very least, go to school for that. But sometimes it was weird, especially when we practiced slow dancing in the room with all the other couples. And when they showed us the birthing video from the 1970s, that was… a lot. My husband was totally cool, though, and didn’t let on that he was just as horrified, if not more, than I was.
It meant a lot for my husband to be there the first time we saw the fetus at the ultrasound. Sharing that moment really cemented the fact that we were in this together, and I can’t imagine, in hindsight, not having him there to experience that moment with me.
Obviously all birth partners should accompany the pregnant woman on this hospital tour. My husband had to know, arguably better than I did where, everything was. I mean, I was the one going to be stuck in the birthing room for an indeterminate amount of time.
We had both taken CPR classes before, but now sh*t felt very real. This was our future child’s life we were learning to save, should something happen. It was a relief to know that he was of the same mind as I was in keeping our kids safe, and doing everything in our power towards that.
I wanted to name our baby with a “C” name, after my grandmother, Carolyn. My husband was totally on board with that. We made and compared lists and, while I was cutthroat about about his choices, he was much gentler with his feedback on mine.
Both of our children have first names we both feel great about. And to be fair, I totally let my husband choose their middle names (though he did need an “OK” from me to make it final). I have no regrets, despite both of their middle names being those of video game characters.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.