Adjusting to life with a pregnant wife was a big change for me, and it really didn’t come easy. One of the most significant changes to my life was that when we were out socializing with friends, I found that I had to drink my beverages a lot quicker than the pre-pregnancy days because the designated driver got tired a lot earlier in the evening while pregnant. In a roundabout way, this brings me to the topic of this post. Of course being pregnant is going to impact the biological host’s life, but how does this impact the partner of said host? More specifically, when one person in a relationship is pregnant, are both of you pregnant?
At a certain point in the pregnancy I noticed that Jenn, perhaps inadvertently, started occasionally talking about our pregnancy instead of her pregnancy. I’m not a very good biologist, but I am quite a good literalist (at times) and I was dead sure that I wasn’t pregnant. I’m also no idiot, and I knew it was a way of including and sharing the experience of pregnancy with me and also a way for Jenn to feel part of a team. Even though I fully understood where Jenn was coming from with the new terminology, I have to admit that I was never really fully comfortable with the language, and these are my reasons three.
The Biological Component
Since (literally) I wasn’t pregnant, there were things that I just didn’t understand. The actual biological changes that were happening to my wife were noticeably lacking within my body, and because of this I think that, although intellectually I wanted to share the experience, I wasn’t faced with the reality of the situation to the same extent that Jenn was. My body was still my body, I didn’t have a rotation of novel cravings or aversions and my hormones weren’t on the same roller coaster ride that Jenn’s were on. There were a lot of physical and emotional realities that I did not and could not share and, therefore, only partially understood.
This lack of understanding left me in a situation where mentally I was not at the same level of preparedness for the impending parenthood as my wife was. Ironically the new terminology that Jenn was using was intended, at least in part, to help me get my head to that point, but I think it ended up making me a little defiant towards the situation rather than understanding of the situation. Essentially I think I was probably having some of the same feelings that Jenn was likely having about losing my “self” and my former life. The difference was that for Jenn, with all of the changes happening to her body, this realization was an ever increasing blatant reality, but without those physical changes happening to me, this was still more of an abstract concept for me. So, like a defiant child, I resisted the new terminology to try to retain my “self” and my former life.
“Self” and My Former Life
So what was so great about my “self” and my former life? Well, they both had no kids! I had a lot more freedom and much less responsibility. On the freedom front, I was able to pursue my personal and professional interests without having to consider the impact that it would have on my children. With respect to the responsibility side of the equation, being out until 3:00 am is never quite the same when you realize that your kids will give a wake-up call around 6:30 am and expect you to be “on” for the rest of the day no matter how you feel. Pregnancy is the nine month reminder that all of these things are around the corner for you and your partner.
Macho Macho Man: The Social Component
The macho macho man factor can be described in the following way. Your friends offer a sense of comfort and familiarity for a few reasons, but partly because they are a reminder of your “self” and your former life. When your pregnant partner mentions that “we” (you and her) are pregnant in front of your friends, then you are immediately thrust into that role that threatens your “self” and your former life. In an attempt to maintain the social status quo in front of your friends, you have the urge to resist the new terminology that is the symbol of your changing life.
So I’m an Idiot, Okay
Earlier in this very post I made a statement that I’m going to quote:
I’m also no idiot, and I knew it was a way of including and sharing the experience of pregnancy with me and also a way for Jenn to feel part of a team.
To be clear, throughout the entire pregnancy I was on board with being supportive and part of a parenting team. Even though intellectually I understood Jenn’s reasons for implementing the “team pregnancy” terminology, there were some parts of me that just were determined to go out of the pre-parenthood world fighting to prevent (or at least postpone) my loss of “self”. The dramatic conclusion to this post is that I understood the purpose behind the turn of phrase, and am no idiot in that way. In another way, however, by not being fully comfortable with the change of terminology I tested the team spirit of my relationship, and if not idiotic, that was at least a challenge. There were plenty of difficulties during our pregnancy, and the loss of “self” is a difficult thing for both parents to experience, but in hindsight, I think the change in terminology was good because it helped me to get my head in the parenthood game earlier than later.