How to Treat Spouse During Pregnancy
I think this is the longest I've ever gone without updating my blog. FORGIVE ME. I have no great excuse other than it's hard to find a position comfortable for typing these days, considering my belly is carrying a human that currently weighs more than my dog. Fact.
Excuses aside, let's get down to business. As the urge to write has crawled back into my fingers over the last few weeks, I've tried to figure out what I wanted this next post to be about. At first, I was determined to take the focus off of my pregnancy because-- like I mentioned during my announcement post back in June-- I don't want my readers to feel like I'm a one dimensional person who can't talk about anything other than this unborn baby that will look like every other baby you see on your newsfeeds in just a few weeks. But then I realized that I've only written two posts directly about pregnancy in the last five months, which isn't bad. Three if you count the one about chub rub.
I've also come to realize that downplaying an extraordinary experience like hosting another Homo sapien inside my body is a missed opportunity as a writer. There's hardly a topic more insane than exploring what it feels like to have two hearts and two brains inside of you at one time. Not to mention four extra extremities (well five...it's a boy) and two extra sets of eyes and ears. He hiccups. He sleeps. He gets bored and does flips. He thinks my right set of ribs is the greatest pillow of all time, and that my bladder is his own personal trampoline. One day he'll fall in love or hate his job, but in the next two months, he'll pee on my face and cheekily grin whenever he farts.
It's a lot to process.
But the experience of growing a child isn't just wrapped up in the miraculous physical realm. I've learned that a lot of it is tied up in both outside relationships and my own emotional experience. For today, I want to narrow in on that aspect of pregnancy interlocked with existing relationships. Particularly-- and personally-- the one with my husband.
Aaron and I knew that preparing for a child would take our relationship to a whole new level of intimacy. We didn't know what that would look like, per se, but we knew it'd be an experience that would require lots of patience and love from both parties. And if we approached it with patience and love, we knew that would open the door for a connection between the two of us that didn't formerly exist. We also knew that if we approached this pregnancy with only our own perspectives in mind, it could begin a downward spiral of habitual selfishness that would only get worse once Baby L was sharing our home instead of just my body.
I don't get to treat Aaron however I feel like treating him just because hormones tell me that I'm feeling angry. He doesn't get to criticize how I look or my levels of energy. I don't get to stop caring about all of the things going on in his life at work or use pregnancy as an excuse to stop listening to his excited rants about Science Friday on NPR. He doesn't get to come home and expect the house to be as clean as it used to be (sorry, bending over is really really hard).
Like any stage of a relationship, thinking about what the other person is experiencing instead of focusing on your own issues is monumental in breeding contentment. Sure, I complain about having to pee five times a night, but I always get up as quietly as I can because I want Aaron to get his rest. "If I'm up, you're up" really doesn't benefit anyone. And instead of him pointing out that he works 10 hour days (on a slow day) while I work part time from home, he shows up each evening with a kiss for a my lips, a squeeze for our puppy, and asks me what he can do to help around the house. (Change the puppy pads, put water in the dog bowl, put together the crib, clean out our closets, unload the dishwasher...basically anything that would require me bending at the waist.)
If I'm being honest, I can't really take much credit for how wonderful our relationship is, and how much deeper it's become throughout this pregnancy. It's like, 95% Aaron's doing. And I swear I'm not blowing hot air for the sake of sounding happy on my blog. No-- being married to Aaron is really, truly wonderful. I want to write about it because I'll revisit this if one day things aren't as wonderful, and because I hope that any single readers find inspiration to hold out for the right person. Or married readers are reminded of their own love (perhaps even guided back to how to successfully cultivate that love).
So while I stand behind the joyous benefits of taking mutual responsibility to think of the other person during pregnancy (especially for us moms-to-be who are told by society that we're allowed to be thankless, selfish, "me-first" nightmares for nine months), I want to take the time to end by publicly thanking my husband for all that he's done for me and our baby in the last 8 months. Dads and future dads-- take note.
Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family. I know it wasn't easy for you to be out to sea for four months of this pregnancy, or to hear me cry sometimes over the phone, but I hope you know how grateful I am for the life you give us. I love my job, but boy am I grateful that I don't have to do it in order to have a roof over our heads. Especially while pregnant, having the flexibility to do something I find enjoyable has saved me so much stress, which I fully believe will transfer to the health of our baby. I do not take that for granted. Not for a second.
Along the same lines, thank you for communicating with me throughout the day between meetings and operations and paperwork. Thanks for calling me each night on your drive home, for kissing me goodbye every single morning at 5:30am, for texting me randomly to let me know you're alive and that you love me, and for always filling me in on what you had for lunch so that I know you're taking care of yourself.
Thank you for telling me I'm still the prettiest girl you've ever seen, no matter how often I insult myself. It'd be easy for you to let my personal battles sway how you see me, but thank you for never wavering.
Thank you for making sure we get to church every Sunday, even when I feel sick.
Thank you for watching Project Runway and Dancing with the Stars with me, and for acknowledging how hard it is for me to watch Stranger Things. But seeing how excited you get when I watch it with you honestly makes it really fun for me, anyway-- almost worth the nightmares.
Thank you for cooking chili and doing dishes and taking out the trashcans and hiding the TV cables in the wall. Thanks for rearranging the area rug so that the space between the rug and the entertainment stand would stop eating me alive. Thanks for setting up all the bills to be paid automatically and for figuring out our retirement plans and all of the unfun things I try to pretend don't exist. Thank you for cleaning out our closets, putting gas in the cars, and buying me the new Taylor Swift album without even asking.
Thank you for setting up the crib, the bassinet, the rock and play, the bouncer, the dresser, and the 8 million other things that will make my daily life with our little boy a wee bit easier. Thank you for the countless back massages. For making me laugh SO HARD all the time, to the point that I snort or spit out my drink. For stopping whatever you're doing to feel the baby whenever I demand you to put your hand on my stomach. For putting on my socks for me, and encouraging me to buy cute maternity clothes so that I feel better about going in public.
Thanks for listening to me get excited about things going on in my work life, and for constantly reassuring me that I'm valuable. Thank you for being concerned when uncute pregnancy pains debilitate my movements, and for helping me off the ground when I get too ambitious. Thanks for going to prenatal classes with me and taking all of this preparation so seriously, but making it fun at the same time.
Thank you for getting excited about walking Noma around the neighborhood together, and daydreaming out loud about all the little things you look forward to doing as a family once Baby L arrives. Getting to hear about how happy our family makes you is a huge gift to me.
Most of all, thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for forgiving me each time I get too high strung, or overwhelm you with to-dos. Thank you for forgiving me when I criticize something you were excited about and make you feel like you failed. Thank you for accepting my apologies in those moments so that I don't have to hate myself the rest of the day, which only breeds more self-focus on my end. Thank you for telling me I'm going to be an amazing mom even when I'm not worthy of your praise.
You, Aaron, are a shining light in this world, and to have you as my husband and baby daddy is a blessing I thank God for EVERY day. I constantly ask God why He gave me you, because I know I don't deserve you. All I know is that you're rare, and that my gratitude for who you are and how you treat me cannot be verbalized. I can't wait for every single adventure with you in life, especially the one right around the corner. I love that our love gets to leave a legacy through generations (God-willing) that will forever bind us as a couple, even when we're long forgotten as individuals.
I. Love. You.
<3 Baby Bun