No matter how long you and your partner have been a couple, pregnancy changes everything. Suddenly, your once easygoing relationship has to deal with morning sickness, leg cramps, swollen ankles, and maybe even hemorrhoids and anemia. And then there’s the prospect of stretch marks. Forget those hot mama dreams! These “experiences” can be frightening and maddening, all at the same time.
Even worse, your partner is free of all these annoyances, and that makes you feel resentful. Your resentment may take you by surprise and strain the relationship just as your pregnancy strains you physically. Here are six things you can do to avoid diving into the world of resentment and anger over the sacrifices that parenthood is already “unfairly” demanding of you, and not of your baby’s dad.
1. Give yourself permission! Your body has been adapting to pregnancy since the moment you conceived – now it’s time to make a mental shift. Recognize that you are entitled to resentful and angry feelings, just as you are entitled to feel thrilled, amazed, grateful and excited about motherhood. Tell yourself that “these feelings” are universal and shared by almost all women during pregnancy’s hard times”.
2. That said, try shifting your focus away from the negatives you may be experiencing physically so that the positives come to the surface. Enjoy these times of celebrity – the doors being opened for you, the offers of a seat, and the compliments about your glow of impending motherhood. The more you do this, the more you can empathize with the baby’s father: When you’re feeling like a rock star, he’s relegated to the role of roadie.
3. Discuss your feelings with each other. Talk about how “celebrity” feels to you, and ask your baby’s dad to talk about how being a “roadie” impacts him. Not only is he stuck with being a roadie; but over the nine months of pregnancy he will miss the special bonding that you experience with your baby, the excitement of those first kicks, the spiritual awakening you enjoy as you realize that your hopes and dreams for the future are now determined by the new life growing inside you. Now is the time to spend some quality time with your roadie and share with him the closeness you feel with the baby.
4. Don’t assume that the dad-to-be knows what to do! Let your roadie know that he can talk to his baby even though he can’t see or feel her. He can also play his favorite music for his baby’s enjoyment and, by resting his head or hand on your belly, feel the kicks that keep you awake at night. Ask him to keep track of the baby’s cycles, from quiet to active. Doing so will help him feel connected to the baby that’s growing inside you. During these intimate times when you’ve invited Dad to experience the baby’s rhythm, you can reveal your feelings about the baby and invite him to share his. Just remember that talking about feelings may be scary for the roadie in your life, especially if he has been fenced off from the realm of feelings since he was a young boy.
5. The dad-to-be’s involvement in planning the nursery and gathering those necessary supplies will further bond him to the baby. By considering him a partner and not a “helper,” you will help create the team that your family will benefit from always. Soon, your baby will be able to add his helping hands to making the “family business” run smoothly.
6. We all want to belong to something, to be a part of an exciting venture, so tell your roadie how much you value his being a part of this parenthood team. Acknowledge the help he’s giving you during pregnancy and will give the baby in the future, so he will know that you appreciate his partnership. As with any teammate, he needs to hear frequently what a valuable contribution he’s making.