Pregnancy was a complex and challenging time for me. I can already hear the knives being sharpened and the boos from the gallery. Trust me, I mean no offence at all to the ladies reading this, including my wife.
Just so we’re clear, this is not a ‘poor me’ article. This is a celebration of all that you as expectant mothers endure during one of the most absurdly mind-bending and body-altering experiences. But it’s from my experience of my wife’s journey.
This was the first time my wife (then girlfriend) and I had gone through pregnancy, so everything was new – the excitement, the amazement that we were creating something from scratch, the sheer panic of the whole journey and the increasing amounts of hormones in our household, both hers and mine.
When she was really sick at the start I tried my best to help. For her, morning sickness should have been renamed ‘not sick between 6 and 6:10pm sickness’. She was so sick. One eye-opening incident involved her rolling out of our bed, moving towards the toilet, dropping to all fours and spewing on the carpet. It was hilarious, I mean ‘so hard to see’ ;) Morning sickness floored her for 30 weeks out of the 40, and this is something that, as blokes, we will never quite know the pain of. People say childbirth is hard. Yes, it definitely is horrendously hard and men will never know that pain. But, what people don’t tell you, is that pregnancy on the whole is dreadful to watch when it isn’t like it is in the movies.
My wife, my best friend, the only person that laughs at my jokes, was a mess. I was a mess because she was a mess. She couldn’t move when she was at home and had to put on this brave face at work that meant she was draining herself even further. I could see the pain in her face when she got out of the car in the mornings and I got to drive home to work from there (yes, I’m a lucky bastard).
Me, being a male – fairly selfish and in need of constant attention – felt lost. Guys are a needy bunch, we need a bit of petting, so I was lonely and I asked way too many questions – “don’t you love me anymore?”, “do you want me to move out?”, “why aren't you giving me attention?”. This pregnancy had taken my better half and replaced her with this quiet, exhausted and sometimes hormonal (sometimes, I said sometimes baby!) woman who I just wanted to help.
The hardest part was seeing pregnancy reduce my wife to her knees in pain. The changes to her personality weren’t major, but she just wasn’t herself. The girl I had met, the one that would climb all over me for cuddles, would now shy away at the other side of the bed as she was too hot and uncomfortable. And she was fairly vocal about it. So vocal, in fact, that we upgraded to a king size!
I felt useless. I wanted to take the pain and sickness away but I couldn’t. Selfishly, I wanted my best friend back, the one who would laugh at my shit jokes and pander to me (occasionally). After a stern word from a friend who always shoots from the hip and aims to grievously wound at all cost, I started to understand I was being a prick. Not a nasty one, not a mean one. Just immature, and selfish.
We, as men, can do that. We need a talking to sometimes, and my bed-ridden girlfriend was in no fit shape to straighten me out. So I tried to fight back the neediness, the self-doubt and the questions, mostly successfully, and navigated all the way to the delivery room relatively unscathed. I even managed to get her to say yes to marrying me. Bonus.
We were desperate to have a baby and the love was multiplying at the same rate the little embryo was. I couldn’t think of anyone else that I could have done this with and survived. I thought she looked great – seriously amazing – but she couldn’t see it. She was a fitness nut before we got pregnant so of course it was hard for her to believe. We'd stopped going to the gym together as it made her feel even worse. She was seriously beaten by it, and the worst part is that you can’t take that away. You can buy all the sickness bands, ginger tablets and ice cream you want but it just flogs them.
And this created another problem – no gym plus bad food plus bad hormones doesn’t equal feeling sexy or attractive. She was so upset because she thought she was letting herself go but, when I disagreed with her, she didn’t believe a word I said. She was growing and getting naturally bigger, and she was becoming sexy as hell. I explained that “womanly is sexy”. I know this isn’t just me, most of my mates will attest to this. They have said on numerous occasions that they find their wife irresistible during pregnancy and not just because of a burgeoning cleavage but the whole package. I found her insanely attractive (I always have, I’m punching hard, not scared to admit it), and when she got further along I found it even more attractive, but nope, she didn’t believe a word of it. And that frustrated the shit out of me.
I know a lot of women who have said the same things to their partners during pregnancy – “I look fat/gross/disgusting” – but trust me when I say your husband does not think so. And if he does then he’s a bit of a prick.
Now my wife has had the baby and busted her ass to get back in shape in time for our wedding my attraction to her continues to grow. So, if you are reading this and feeling like your husband just wants to say the right things to get his ‘end away’ – he’s probably not, you do look great!
It’s hard to remember now all the times I laughed, grimaced and almost puked myself during pregnancy. It was such a confusing time for me, I had a load of growing up to do, as most men do when they approach fatherhood.
Now, becoming a father again is top of the ‘to do’ list. I want more babies, mainly because my son is the man (he’s incredible and I’m not biased at all haha). But what is more incredible is the relationship he and his mum share after their journey together.
Men can only be there to help, we can’t carry the load. We can say the right and wrong things along the way, but we can’t do the hard yards. That’s what women are, without a doubt, made for. I can’t even stand a hangover without feeling like the world is coming to an end, never mind 40 continuous weeks of that sort of feeling followed by delivering a bowling ball sized object through…well, you get the picture.
Ladies, I take my hat off to you. It’s amazing to see what you go through in those nine months and years to follow. You are an incredible bunch. Fellas, it’s tough seeing it happen to the ones you love the most. But, they need our help and reassurance. As a good friend told me – “look after her now, and she will remember it for the rest of her life.” And from both sides of the fence I think we can all agree it’s worth it.