Pregnancy Was A Great Equalizer In My Marriage
Pregnancy changed me, as I’m sure it changes everyone. It changed me physically (obviously), emotionally (my love for this new, tiny, noisy person is immense), and it changed me mentally (wait, what?).
My husband and I haven’t been together very long, relatively speaking. We met just over four years ago and hit it off so well on the first date that we started dating from that point onward.
In March this year, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We have a son who just turned seven months old.
I’ll save you the math — yes, he’s a honeymoon baby. A planned honeymoon baby, as both my husband and I are in our mid-late 30s and we decided not to wait to have kids.
I had my IUD birth control removed about a month before our wedding because once we had made the decision to not wait, I jumped into action right away, even if there was a risk I’d end up not having a drink at my own wedding. While that didn’t happen, we still didn’t think we’d get so lucky so quickly.
I’m a very particular person. A control freak, if you will. I’m opinionated and I excel at making decisions. I’m pretty great at justifying my decisions too using my own logic, which I think is fairly faithful to actual logic. (Most of the time.) I’m also above average at following through on decisions. It’s part of being decisive in my mind — if you think doing something is the right thing to do, then go ahead and actually do the damn thing.
My husband is excessively smart. His whole family is intimidatingly intelligent. His intelligence often comes at a cost of reduced common sense which is apparently just the way these things work. It drives me up the wall. Common sense is my whole deal. I do my best to manage my frustration at the various dim things he does because his brain simply doesn’t work the same way mine does. He also has a habit of pondering situations, weighing up options for an eternity, unable to make a decision. His overly large brain overthinks each and every problem and choice making conclusions and decisions nearly impossible. We are very, very different.
For his part, my husband is incredibly patient (all that over thinking requires an immense amount of patience) and well-mannered. He’s so kind and lovely, he makes me look bad in comparison. Or not bad so much as just really impatient. He needs days to make a decision about what to eat over the weekend. I need seconds because I’m already writing the damn shopping list and I need to know now.
However, all of the above should have been written in past tense. It’s different now. I’m different. My husband is different. Pregnancy happened.
I had a very nauseous pregnancy. I puked most days and felt like I was minutes from puking anytime I wasn’t actually busy doing so. I could barely eat. I survived on a bagel and a yogurt each day. I have absolutely no idea where my son found enough food and energy inside me to grow into the big, healthy lad that he is.
My pregnancy seemed designed to rob me of my mental faculties. We were living in Mexico at the time (my husband and I are both from New Zealand) and the heat contributed to my overall discomfort. We lived in a tiny beachside town with no fast food outside of Subway and Dominos pizza, which was a shame because I would have added chocolate milkshakes to the list of things keeping me alive if they’d been readily available. Homemade milkshakes just didn’t have the same appeal, because pregnancy brain.
It was a real struggle to remind myself that other people’s pregnancies were a lot harder than mine. I was having it comparatively easy. Exceptionally so because I didn’t have to work. One of the many joys of living in Mexico meant we could afford to live on just my husband’s remote working income.
But overall, for me, pregnancy sucked. I did not enjoy the experience.
I used to be the decision maker in our relationship. I was just so much better at it. I’m not saying my decisions were better than whatever my husband would have eventually settled on, I’m just saying that I was much better at the actual process of making a decision. Didn’t matter how big or small. My husband was always chill enough to just roll with it and I knew enough about my husband to not make decisions he would hate. Either that, or he just couldn’t bear the thought of trying to change my already-made-up mind. This dynamic might not have been the most healthy, but it was easy for both of us. It became our norm.
But while I was pregnant, I felt like I didn’t have two spare brain cells to rub together to form a coherent thought (other than constantly beating myself up for “starving” my unborn child with my inability to eat), let alone make a decision about literally anything.
My husband would ask me questions and for the first time in my life, the only response I had for him was “I don’t know.”
I never didn’t know. I used to be able to think logically through anything to come up with an answer.
I was shocked at myself. I didn’t know.
That sentence became my calling card through my whole pregnancy. Anything and everything that needed a decision, I couldn’t make it. I didn’t know the answer or how to work it out. “Should we go for a walk when I finish work?” “I don’t know.” “Do we need more milk?” “I don’t know.” “Have you eaten yet today?” “Oh god, I honestly can’t remember – I don’t know!” Every time I failed to come up with an answer to the most mundane questions, I would have a look of loss and panic on my face. Not knowing was hard for me.
But you know what? My husband absolutely stepped up. In every possible way. He was there, working full-time, making doctors appointments, reminding me to eat my bagel, doing all of the grocery shopping, cooking, deciding when it was about time I left the house for some fresh air, deciding what form that outing would take.
He did it all and he seemed really happy. He confessed one day that he enjoyed taking care of me because he’d never had the opportunity before. I’d never allowed him to take care of me because I took care of myself. I was always the person who did all of the things.
After my pregnancy was finished and our son arrived turning our marriage into a family, I might have gotten my brain back if it weren’t for the sleep deprivation. My husband continued to do most of the heavy lifting immediately post-birth because, shockingly, I was very sore. And tired. But so was he. We managed through that first month and then my mum arrived. After Mum’s visit, it was my best friend’s turn. We didn’t really get into the swing of a new routine until months after our son was born.
Now we’re here. We’ve made it to seven months and life ticks along in our new normal. And the normal is certainly new. I never actually reverted entirely back to my pre-pregnancy, “I can work everything out by myself and manage our household and our schedules and future plans all by myself,” ways. Dare I say it — I’m more chill now. I’ve seen firsthand how my husband makes decisions, and even though I don’t agree with all of them, I’ve learned through necessity to let it go a lot of the time. Not every time, mind you; I’m still me. I’m effectively a recovering control freak who has learned to trust another, specific, human enough to let them have a certain amount of control over my life as well as their own. Just as my husband was, once upon a time, content to let me have a certain amount of control over his. We’ve met in the middle. I think that while our love for each other never wavered, our respect for each other has increased.
All in all, I’m glad pregnancy sucked. I’m glad it knocked me on my ass. I’m glad it brought me down a peg or two. I’m relieved my husband stepped in to fill the making-decisions void I’d left. I still use the phrase “I don’t know” even now. I don’t have to have an answer to everything. It’s nice.