An open letter to the partners of pregnant women:
I adore being a mom. I really didn’t know how much love my heart could hold until I held my first baby; and when I held my second baby, I was astounded that I could love another being as much as I did – and do! It truly is the most incredible love in the entire world. I have been blessed with two healthy, beautiful, smart, funny boys, and I am thankful every minute of every day.
Now, with that said, keep in mind that what I am about to say to you is not complaining; I just wanted to take a moment to shed some light on the “joys” of pregnancy for you. When I was pregnant – both times – my husband was incredibly supportive; but still, he didn’t get it. Of course, there was no way that he could get it because he wasn’t the one whose uterus grew to the size of a watermelon and who was carrying an alien inside of it for nearly 10 months (41 weeks with baby #1, and 39 weeks with baby #2, to be exact.) I still say to my husband – and will always say – “I carried and birthed two children; there’s no way you will ever top that”, and I say it proudly.
I wish that there was some way that my partner, and that all of you partners of pregnant women, could understand exactly what we go through. The truth is, unless you are pregnant yourself, there’s no way that you can get it; but, I am going to do my very best to try to explain to you what you cannot possibly understand about the pregnancy symptoms (some aren’t exactly symptoms, per se, but more like side effects) your partner is experiencing. Think of it as a little “food for thought,” – And when you’re done reading, treat your pregnant partner like the Rock Star that she is.
10 We’re Hormonal
Pregnant women are ecstatic one minute and weeping the next. They have trouble focusing. They are off-balance. They have trouble getting their words from their brains to their mouths. They obsess and they nag. Please, don’t blame any of this on your pregnant partner. It’s the hormones. It really is.
A woman’s body goes through some pretty radical changes while she’s pregnant, and hormone fluctuations are among those changes. Please be understanding when she flies off the handle, or asks you to do something that you think makes no sense. Just think how she is feeling – and how she will feel if you don’t show some compassion; well, a lot of compassion.
9 NEVER Mention Hormones
Now, just because I have said that pregnant women are hormonal, and your pregnant partner may admit this fact to you, that doesn’t give you cart blanche to say anything about it. If she starts crying because you hung a picture on the wrong wall in the nursery, don’t you DARE mention the hormones; just apologize, give her a hug, and move the picture.
Mention the word “hormones,” and your pregnant partner may chew your head off. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
8 It can be Frustrating
Don’t get me wrong; there are so many joys that a pregnant women feels and experiences, but there are also a lot of frustrations. You basically feel like you have an alien inside of your body. For almost 10 months, your body is the host to this little being, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
You want to go out and have a drink, but you can’t drink, and you’re too tired to go out. You want to wear your favorite jeans, but you can’t get them over your thighs. You want to talk about things other than the baby, but that’s all that people seem to be able to talk about. Your body is changing, and those changes can be hard to swallow.
Yes, pregnancy can be very frustrating. So please, never say you’re pregnant partner doesn’t understand your frustrations at work, or with your mother; because you can’t even begin to understand the frustration that she is experiencing.
7 That Kicking: It can be Annoying
Actually, it can be beyond annoying. Yes, there is nothing more incredible than feeling your baby kicking and rolling around inside your womb; honestly, it's such an incredible feeling. However, when you’re 8 months pregnant and all you want to do is get a good night of sleep, but your baby thinks it’s party time and starts rocking out at 2am, making it impossible to get a wink of sleep; yeah, that kicking can really be a pain in the uterus.
6 We are EXHAUSTED
Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, tell your pregnant partner that you are tired. You have absolutely no idea what being tired is all about. The aches and pains, the acid reflux, the restless leg (for me, that was an absolute killer. I didn’t sleep my entire second pregnancy because of RLS), the kicking, the constant need to pee… Yeah, getting sleep as a pregnant woman is virtually impossible.
Her sheer exhaustion, coupled with her frustrations and hormones, may make her eat you whole if you even dare mention that you're tired to your pregnant partner. Let her sleep in, go to bed early, take a nap; let her rest whenever she wants. She really needs it.
5 Peeing: The Struggle is Real
Your pregnant partner just returns from a trip to the bathroom, and no sooner does she sit down, than she has to get up and head to the loo again. You may think that it’s ridiculous, but imagine how she feels! Having to pee every 10 seconds isn’t exactly fun. She has a big old watermelon resting on her bladder; of course she’s going to have to pee a lot. How would you feel if you were in that situation? Yeah, I thought so….
4 Hemorrhoids Happen
This may not be a topic that you want to discuss, especially when it has to do with your partner, however, believe me – it’s something that your pregnant partner wishes that you understood.
Hemorrhoids are never pleasant; but when you’re pregnant, they’re even less pleasant. We’re not only uncomfortable because we have a baby growing inside of us, and all we want to do is sit down, but then we can’t sit down comfortably because a hemorrhoid has reared (no pun intended) it’s ugly head. Do your partner a favor and grab her a pillow, an ice pack, some witch hazel, and some Preparation H. She’ll love you forever.
3 Swollen Like a Balloon
All pregnant women experience swelling to some degree; some experience a mild of it, and some blow up like a balloon. All of that fluid retention and the increased blood volume can literally cause a pregnant woman’s legs, ankles, feet, hands, face – well, her whole body, really – to puff up. In some cases, it’s just uncomfortable, and in others, it’s very serious. In fact, serious swelling (edema; the fancy medical name for swelling,) can be a sign of preeclampsia, a condition that can be fatal to both mother and baby, and almost always requires an emergency C-section sooner than the due date.
When you feel swollen after a night of drinking with the guys; imagine that, times 800, and you may have an idea of what your pregnant partner feels like.
2 We’re Scared
Pregnant women are beyond terrified. Sure, we’re excited to about the future, and to meet that new little love; but we’re scared as hell – especially during the first pregnancy. What will labor and delivery be like? Will I know what I’m doing? Will I be able to breastfeed? How will my life change? Will I still be the same person? What if my baby doesn’t like me? Will my partner still think I’m sexy? Will our relationship change?
These are all things that your pregnant partner is thinking, and these thoughts can be downright terrifying. Let her talk to you about her fears, and lend her a shoulder to cry on and give her a great big hug. While you may not be able to stop her from worrying, you can let her know that you support her 110%.
1 One Word: Contractions
Without a doubt, the #1 thing that your pregnant partner wants you to understand, but you never will, is contractions. Braxton Hicks are certainly uncomfortable, but when the real contractions set in during labor and delivery, oh, you have no idea. It literally feels like someone is tearing your insides out while doing a Mexican hat dance on them; at least that’s the best way that I can describe the feeling.
So, when you say that you're experiencing pain that your partner can’t understand, whether it’s through the duration of her pregnancy, or after (and you better not even thinking about saying you’re in pain while she’s in labor), you had better think again. Your partner could kick you where it counts 100 times, with a steel-toed boot, and you STILL wouldn’t begin to understand the pain that is contractions.
I hope that I shed some light on the symptoms, side effects, and feelings that your pregnant partner is experiencing. Please keep this in mind throughout her entire pregnancy, and thereafter, and always remember what a Super Woman she is.
A Mother of Two Little Boys