This is something that always makes me cringe and grind my teeth. I feel like the media are constantly ramming down expectant parent’s throats that they are supposed to be soooo much more in love during their pregnancy and the first few months of baby’s life, after all it’s such a happy time. Ha. You only have to google relationships during pregnancy and you will be met with image after image of blissfully happy couples or on the flip side, advice about violence during pregnancy, but nothing about the average day to day relationships ups and downs many face. Every time you open a parenting magazine, or even if you want to read a celebrity story of pregnancy, you can guarantee a heartfelt piece about the wonders that this pregnancy and baby has done for the couple’s relationship, coupled with couples smiling blissfully at each other over the baby’s head. They are just so happy and so in love with being pregnant and welcoming this wonderful gift into the world… blah blah blah.
You know what? After years and years of working with expectant, new parents and having four pregnancies of my own, I can honestly say this just isn’t reality for most people. It isn’t, relationships during pregnancy can be damn tough. I’m sorry to burst that bubble, but if you lie awake at 3.30am after your fourth bathroom trip in as many hours and your partner is lying next to you blissfully snoring away, you are normal if you visualise his demise.
We all know that marriage and partnerships are a give and take game, and it’s hard work at the best of times. You are both individuals, two people who share their lives together and often live as a ‘one’; you’re invited to events together, you share bills, you share responsibilities. You share yourself while still remaining a sense of individuality. The thing is, when you throw a pregnancy or a new baby into the mix, those individualities suddenly slip: you aren’t just those people anymore, there is a whole new dimension to you, especially for a new or expectant mother. Why is it that we struggle so much as a society to recognise that this is a process and isn’t going to be a smooth evolution of your partnership. It’s ok for it to be tough, and insisting that relationships are only affected in a positive way is foolish and only adds further pressure to an already pressured filled situation.
It isn’t just a new baby that alters things, it starts from that blue line, doesn’t it? Be honest. You’re world shifts, you become a mother prepared to do anything to protect your young, while your partner has to process that the person he loves is now forever changed, not to mention the fact that he is now on a count down until there will be someone else in his life who will be dependant on you both. There are those subtle reminders that things are on the change too, probably a good percentage of us will remember being sat on a sofa with boobs that feel like they are going explode at any given moment, exhausted just because you are awake and feeling queasy as hell, when our partner has sidled up to us looking to do the dance with no pants. If you are anything like me the response will have been anything but positive, and if you are on pregnancy two or more then you’ve probably perfected a ball shrivelling look just for those occasions. It’s not just things like sex that suddenly change, but what about saving money: there is a car seat to buy, a pram, a nursery to furnish, do you need a bigger house? Bigger car? Nursery fees? All of these things leave a slug like stress line across you both that no doubt leaves you questioning the other’s expenditure, something you might never have done before. I have lost count of the amount of people I have had arguing in front of me while I try to help them select the right car seat or mattress, it usually goes something like this: “Don’t you want the best for our baby??!”, ” Of course I do, I’m just thinking of money and if we need to spend that much on a mattress for a baby, doesn’t your sister have one we could have?”, “You can’t use a second hand mattress!! DIDN’T YOU LISTEN TO ANYTHING I SAID TO YOU!!”
As humans we don’t always do so well with change, and everything is changing. Everything.
There are magical, wonderful moments during a pregnancy and the first few months of new parenthood that you can share with your partner, and you will have those kodak moments where you never thought you would love the other as much as you do, you are so grateful to have them there and to share these blessings with them. Throughout the darkest times in my marriage (most of which have been during a pregnancy or just after one of the kids have been born), when all the chips were down, the moment of feeling baby kick and sharing that with my husband has been a sliver of light on an otherwise cloudy day. No one will share those moments but you two, and that is what children are, the ultimate coming together of two lives to make one, a blessing and a gift to cherish and nurture. There will also be those moment’s when you will wonder what the hell you were thinking letting this person impregnate you, were you drunk?
Just remember, you aren’t the only one wondering if you can file for a quickie divorce over the way he chews his toast on a morning. We’ve all been there, it’s normal and you so are you.