There are two days in my life I remember with vivid clarity. The day I married Tim, my high school sweetheart, and the day we found out we were having a baby. As the Lord would have it, those memorable occasions were less than two months apart.
Although concerned about the changes a baby would make in our young marriage, my focus quickly shifted from “How will this affect us?” to “How will this affect me?”
After all, I’m the pregnant one. I’m exhausted, nauseous, vomiting, constipated and softening around the middle—an area I’ve tamed and trained with pride over the years like so many circus tigers. It seemed as though I was the sole party involved. I was making the “big” sacrifices.
Pulling 40-hours-a-week just like my husband, I began to think, “Hey, the workload is disproportionately spread here. Sure, he’s making all the meals, doing all the dishes, washing all the clothes, and well, everything else that needs to be done around the house, but I’m forming a human here!”
Maybe it was the onslaught of influences telling me to take care of myself, or a sudden rush of baby-forming hormones, but I seem to think it was something more like selfishness. To be honest, it was a lot of selfishness.
It wasn’t until trimester two that I began to wonder, who’s taking care of my husband, anyway? How did he get lost in this shuffle? How did it become all about me?
Content, or at least oblivious, in my pregnancy fog, I munched away on saltines and drank ginger ale from a keg like any well mannered mom-to-be. I noticed an occasional forlorn glance from my husband, assumed it was sympathy, but then it seemed like something more. It seemed like he was missing me.
After a bout of the pregnancy pukes, I excused myself from work, and my dutiful husband stayed home to take care of me. Unable to stand the stench of anything from cheerios to chicken, I barricaded myself in our room. I didn’t see him most of the day, but I’m pretty sure he spent about three hours washing dishes.
At my request, he stopped in to give me a hug, during which I pushed him away with a crumpled nose and said, “You smell like meat! Change your shirt!”
Still, this was not enough to crush him. He joined me later on the couch where I was watching Gilmore Girls. Tim had no interest in the show other than my company while watching it, and I should have grasped his frustration when I abruptly left the room.
It’s not like I didn’t come back. I did, donned with coat, scarf and gloves, and told him I was going out. I needed food, I needed it now, and I was going to get it. “Wait, let me go with you!” Tim exclaimed. I was already shivering on our front step. “I’m leaving now!” I shouted through the glass door. He was defeated. “Fine,” he said. “Be careful.”
A second later I pulled open the same glass door I’d just shouted through. “You mean you’re not coming?” I cried mournfully, a look of betrayal on my face. It was then I realized, somewhere between the positive symbol on the testing strip and now, I had lost my mind.
In addition, I had lost all perspective on just how I’d been treating my husband. Whatever I needed, whatever I wanted, took precedence. I’m pregnant!
You see, I’m beginning to notice a pattern in our society about two major life events: weddings and babies. A wedding requires a man and a woman, a bride and a groom, to have and to hold. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a baby requires the same ingredients.
But any trip down a magazine or book aisle on these topics will make it seem like a one woman show. Have you ever noticed the titles Elegant Groom or Groom’s Guide gracing those glossy covers?
I haven’t, because they don’t exist. To the media’s defense, it is true that those magazines most likely don’t exist because no guy would ever read them. Still, I can’t help feeling they’re a little left out.
As an equal half to the baby equation, men still seem to lose the spotlight to women. I find that everyone wants to know how I’m doing, asking with smiles and nods of concern as they place an affectionate pat on my bulging middle. And when it comes to baby talk with Tim, everyone, still, wants to know how I’m doing.
Once my eyes reopened to the needs of my husband, I embarked on my second, equally painful discovery of what all this meant to my walk with God. Once I became pregnant I felt suddenly exempt from the need to be Christ-like. Anything goes, so long as I’m carrying this child! I was all-important.
And then this verse hit me like a fist between the eyes:“Love … does not behave rudely, does not seek its own …” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NKJV.)
Surely, somewhere, in the fine print, was the pregnancy clause, you know, the one that says, “Unless of course you’re expecting. In that case, go ahead.” But it isn’t there. Trust me, I looked, and I asked the two most important beings in my life for forgiveness: God and my husband.
I promised myself that I would do my best to live a life of love, pregnant or not. After all, I still have two whole trimesters and a lifetime to work on it.
I know it’s still vital to take care of myself while expecting. It’s no myth that pregnancy puts an enormous strain on the female body. I put my feet up, rest often, and let my husband dote on me.
But I no longer forget to do a little doting on him as well. I make it a priority to know what his needs are in his special role as expectant father. After all, we’re in this together.