If I do say so myself, I was great at being pregnant: I worked out, kept up with all of my OB appointments, stayed away from the no-no foods, and gave up drinking. (What more could anyone possibly want from a pregnant person? I killed it.) I felt like I was doing something I was meant to do, and I was — so far — doing it as well as I could've hoped: After years of trying to not get pregnant, we decided to go for it, and luckily nailed it on the first attempt. Once pregnant, it seemed my body was in its element. This did a lot to set me up for a relatively easy pregnancy. What it did not do was ensure marital bliss for those next nine months.
The physical side of pregnancy was only part of the deal. There was also mental side. While I was relinquishing control of my life to my body, basically tilting back and letting it do its thing to accommodate a new human, I was working my brain overtime: over-thinking and uber-planning. My husband was a good sport and played along, the two of us trying on parenthood and giggling at the insanity of us being tasked with actually shaping the course of someone’s life.
But every now and then, we’d hit a snag. And as much as an argument felt like a setback in the progress we were making in becoming bonafide adults with a kid on the way, the outcome was always worth it. We took comfort in realizing (a realization that has become even more pronounced as time moves forward and we look back on the things we squabbled about in our prenatal stress) that the ways pregnancy challenged our relationship were probably pretty normal.
Here are some fights we had waiting for our baby to arrive, and the reasons they were worth having.
What Gear To Buy
My husband and I had very different shopping philosophies when it came to buying baby gear: He was all about the bottom line, while I was willing to pay more for anything that didn’t feature teddy bears. This made things prickly when we were putting together our baby registry. I needed everything to match; He didn’t want to pay a butt-load for items that would be obsolete in a year. We had to find common ground, and eventually we did (once we realized that "safety" and "ease of use" were our common-ground priorities). And honestly, once our daughter arrived, and literally sh*t all over our decisions, our reasons were pretty much irrelevant.
Why it's important: Not only will you ultimately realize that stuff doesn’t matter more than the love between the members of your family, but you'll learn how each other assigns value to options, and how to work together in new ways that will be replicated throughout your kid's life.
What To Name Your Baby
We didn’t want to find out the sex of either of our kids before they were born. So we agreed to refer to the gestating fetus as “it.” As we were thinking of both girls and boys names, there was a good deal of squabbling. He was fine with me wanting to use the letter “C” from my grandmother’s name, a nod to the Jewish tradition of naming babies after deceased family members. And while we are both huge Star Wars fans, we knew we couldn’t totally geek out and name the kid Han or Leia. I consulted endless sites and trending reports (so I could stay away from the popular names, in the hopes of cementing my child’s uniqueness at an early age, because is anything more important, you guys?!). He suggested B-movie actor names. We seemed to be at a standstill, until we agreed to divide and conquer. I chose the first name, and he agreed it was at least fine. He chose the middle name and I approved it based on how it fit with the first name. Both our kids’ first names start with “C” and their middle names are those of video game characters. Win-win.
Why it's important: There are infinite combinations of names. It is possible to find one you’re both OK with. But you will probably fight about it a bit before that happens.
The Ideal Temperature Of Places
I used to keep a fleece jacket in the office and still be cold, but that all changed towards the end of my second trimester when my body temperature felt like it jumped 10 degrees. I used to freeze my husband out at night, with the air conditioner blasting and a huge fan blowing directly at the bed.
My husband rolled with it; Who was he to argue when I was the one growing a baby? But it definitely felt like we were a couple divided, seeking different climates while we shared a bed. While this was a short-lived situation, it stuck with me, long after my inner thermometer normalized postpartum. It proved you can’t always win, that sometimes one of us is going be uncomfortable, and that fan speeds should go higher than five.
Why it's important: You learn that you shouldn't feel bad about your own needs, and that at different points in your relationship, one of you might have their needs be a little more important than the other person's. It's not that my husband's comfort didn't matter just because I was pregnant, but I mean, it definitely didn't matter as much as mine. He could always put on more layers if I needed the thermostat turned down for a few months.
Which Ice Pop Flavors Are Acceptable When One Is Sent Out To Procure Ice Pops
He was being helpful, I know. But when I sent him out for ice pops and he came back with sugar-free ones, I lost it. I was in labor. I was experiencing the most extreme pain and discomfort I had ever felt. And he thought I wanted to keep my calories in check? We should have had the ice pop conversation much earlier, so he knew what was going to work for me. (Grape only, full sugar.)
Why it's important: Having a partner who is willing to give you what you need is important, and awesome to find. What's also important is learning to be specific when you ask for what you need.
What You Should Eat While You're Pregnant
This is an argument so many couples will have during pregnancy, and frankly, I'm not here for it. She with the baby on board decides what to eat! Period. But that sure as hell doesn't stop the non-pregnant party from having an opinion. When it came to food, I followed all the pregnancy advice I read and heard at the doctor’s office. Basically, I stayed away from booze, deli meat, and sushi. But peanut butter was a weakness of mine, and the reports on the effects of pregnant moms eating it varied at the time of my pregnancies. So I just kinda... had some. Whatever. I didn’t eat too much of it, but when I wanted it — in a sandwich or licked off a spoon — I had it.
My husband, who didn’t accompany me to every single doctor’s visit, was adamant that I shouldn’t have peanut products, based on a handful of articles he'd read on the subject. He also never craved it, so he didn't know my struggle. But I wanted what I craved, and based on what I read, there was no conclusive, undeniable evidence at the time that some peanut butter was going to put my baby in danger.
Our first kid ended up having no issues with peanuts when we first introduced them to her at around age three. She has no allergies. On the other hand, I followed the exact same dietary protocols when I was pregnant with our second child (eschewing the same foods, and occasionally indulging in peanut butter) and he has a life-threatening peanut allergy. And there is no proof that he wouldn’t have that allergy, even if I had stayed away from peanuts while he was gestating.
Why it's important: It's great to trust your partner, but when it comes to your body and your life, you have to know when to say, "Hey, I respect your opinion but this is kinda my choice to make, so I'm going to do what I think is best." As much as my partner was invested in the well-being of our child, I had the added responsibility of taking care of myself to facilitate that. There was no definitive evidence that what I chose to eat helped my daughter avoid developing food allergies, as much as it did to cause my son to develop his. I needed to be trusted that I was doing the best with the knowledge we had.
Your Timeline For Absolutely Everything
When I was halfway into my second trimester, people were already asking what we were going to do about childcare. We hadn’t even picked out a crib, let alone a caregiver plan. This led us to the annoying process of deciding what we had to decide before the baby came I didn’t want to think about babysitters and 529 plans. I just wanted to wander around Babies R Us and touch all the tiny onesies. But I could see the fear of the unknown set in behind my husband’s eyes. He needed to know what was going to happen next. What I saw as trying to relish the experience of being a mom-to-be, he saw as procrastinating important decisions about how we were going to care for and raise our child.
We struggled with this for a while until we finally stopped asking friends and consulting books. It was undermining all the decisions we had made up to that point because we kept second-guessing ourselves. We didn’t have the baby yet and we were already afraid we were doing everything wrong. So we had to do, and decide, less. We agreed to get as much done as we could for the immediate arrival of the baby. Everything after that could wait until we figured out what we needed, as parents.
Why it's important: No new parent is an expert. It’s OK to learn as you go. And it's OK if your first real conversation about [pretty much any parenting issue] doesn't happen until the drive home from the hospital.
Images: NBC; Giphy(6)