Making a baby is hard work. Even if step one is easy (and there's no guarantee there) there's the 40-week-long (more or less) process of taking that hodgepodge of genetic material and turning it into a mini-human. Two people make a baby, sure, the non-gestational parent is limited in how much they can really do once that pee stick turns positive. That's not to say they can't be crucially important and fully on-board, though. In fact, the tiny things my partner did that showed he appreciated me during my pregnancy weren't actually tiny at all. Well, at least not to me. They're honestly what enabled me to get through a physically and emotionally difficult time. In my book, that's pretty huge.
Pregnant women need what everyone needs in a relationship, regardless of their gender, sexuality, or the contents of their reproductive organs: stability, support, love, attention, and thoughtfulness. But anyone who has been pregnant can tell you that lugging around a baby full-time can make you, perhaps, a little needier than usual. At the very least, it can shift around how much you need and when. Knowing that your sacrifices and efforts are appreciated, therefore, can make all the difference between a tough pregnancy and a good one (or, at least, a more bearable one).
My guy doesn't usually like when I write about him, but I'm willing to embarrass him for the sake of this article. Anyone who is pregnant deserves a partner like him, and I want him to stand as a good example. He did so much to let me know that he was grateful for everything I was going through by demonstrating his gratitude in the following ways:
He Gave Me All The Foot Rubs
Even when my feet, ankles, and calves weren't swollen to twice their usual size, they were still tired and aching and needed to be rubbed after lugging around my pregnant body all day. My sweet partner was kind enough to sit down at the end of every day, pat his lap, and flex his fingers to let me know that his strong, magical hands were open for business. (Or at the very least, would oblige me when I slowly crept my feet into his space. "Oh sweetheart," I would sigh. "What a great idea you had all by yourself!")
He Understood When I Couldn't Pull My Weight Around The House
My dude and I always tried to make housework as close to 50/50 split as was possible and reasonable. But, as anyone who has been pregnant can probably tell you, sometimes it just isn't going to happen. That's not to say, however, that whatever it is I was supposed to do around or for the house didn't need to get done. This is when my partner would step up and step in. For a while, he was definitely doing the lion's share of the strenuous (or even not to strenuous) chores on account of my physical limitations and incurable exhaustion. Whenever I would thank him and apologize for not being able to do it myself, he would shrug and say, "You're growing a human. That's work, too."
He Went To The Bodega For Snacks
I mean, but really, it wasn't me. It was the baby. The baby needed Cool Ranch Doritos and orange juice at midnight. Fortunately, my partner really understood the nutritional needs of 15-week old fetus and very kindly ran across the street to the snack utopia that is a well-stocked New York City bodega.
He Didn't Laugh When Hormones Made Me Laughable
Look, I'm not saying that pregnant women are irrational or incapable of clear-thinking or anything like that. But all people can be a little unreasonable sometimes, and when your body is producing massive levels of extra touchy-feely hormones you may find yourself having more of those silly moments than usual.
Like, for example, you might discover that you start crying when the delivery guy brings you the wrong sandwich. Hypothetically, of course. This never, ever happened or anything. But if it did happen, I imagine my partner would rub my back and tell me it was OK instead of laughing in my face because I was crying over a sandwich.
He Took Pictures Of Me
Because he wanted to document my pregnancy so we could look back together (maybe one day with our child) and reminisce. So, once every few weeks, he would stand me in front of the bedroom door of our apartment and take some photos.
This was during my first pregnancy, of course. There are only a few off-handed photos of me pregnant during my second pregnancy, which has nothing to do with his appreciation and everything to do with the fact that you're just going to be a whole lot less sentimental during your second pregnancy than your first. But that's another story for another day.
He Asked Me How I Was Doing
This was thoughtful and demonstrated appreciation (in my case) in a couple ways. For one, he just wanted to know how I was because my emotional wellbeing matters to my partner. Secondly, he knows I am someone who processes things by talking to people. By asking me how I was, he opened up a space for me to vent, gush, worry, and think. Even if I didn't realize I needed to get anything out, it gave me time to work it out.
He Didn't Question My Choices
He trusted my research, instincts, and the fact that I would never do anything to harm our child. So if I was going to a regular yoga class instead of a prenatal yoga class, he didn't worry that I was being reckless. If I ate sushi or had a glass of wine or ate a soft, stinky cheese he knew I'd looked into the topic well enough to understand what I was doing. If he did ever want to know why I was doing something he might ask about it, but never in an accusing or second-guessing way.
He Read The Books I Read
We were coming off the same set of knowledge and regularly discussed issues we found interesting. His appreciation for the fact that I was doing all the actual working of having our child made him want to learn as much about what I was going through as he could. It also provided me with a fantastic and savvy outlet to talk about about all things pregnancy and baby, because goodness knows both were on my mind (and bladder) most of the time.
He Didn't Join In When Other People Were Making Pregnancy Jokes
It (mercifully) didn't happen a lot, but every now and then you'd get that uncouth friend or obnoxious family member who would say something disparaging about how awful it must be to have a pregnant wife or how very much my husband's life was about to be over and it was all my fault and — har, har! — dudes want nothing to do with raising babies! Rather than awkwardly chuckle away this (frankly, misogynist) behavior as "Just Dave being Dave" or "locker room talk," my husband would call people out on it.
He Took The Lead When Raising Our Older Child A Lot Of The Time
When I became pregnant for a second time, my toddler didn't just mystically stop being a toddler. He was just as high energy, demanding, and time consuming as ever. He was physically incapable of being anything but those things. Once again, my partner stepped up to take on the majority of the running around and (literal) heavy lifting.
He Regularly & Literally Thanked Me
I truly believe that "thank you" is the secret to good communication and a happy relationship. We assume people know how much we love and appreciate them, but over time that can get lost in the haze of everything else going on in your life. Regularly saying "thank you" for tangible things that make you happy, even if they're little things, or things the person has agreed to do (like the dishes or preschool drop-off or having a baby), can go a long way to make your partner feel like everything they're doing to make your life together work the way you want it to is both noticed and appreciated.