This week is kind of a big deal for me.
This week, my book, the one I wrote on my experience having an unplanned pregnancy and becoming a young mother, officially comes out.
And in light of that big happenstance in my life, I can’t help but think back to the night that started it all. Well, not that night, goodness, but the other night: the night I took my pregnancy test.
I’ve re-hashed that night often in my mind, on my blog, in my book, even right here on Babble. But what I don’t often mention is the other person who was in the picture that night. The one who didn’t make a sound when I started screaming when those two tiny blue lines popped up (instantly, I might add). The one who remained motionless in the corner while I sobbed in a ball behind my dresser. The one who remained calm, stoic, and has proven to be the best father that I could have ever imagined for my children.
I tend to take the “other person” for granted, a shadow of the real drama that went down that night—the drama that was all about me and my life. My body, my baby, my choice, my unplanned pregnancy. A whole lot of me, and looking back, I’m almost embarrassed to think how little emphasis I put on him, my now husband, then boyfriend.
No one asked him how he was feeling.
No one wondered if he would be OK.
No one questioned if he would make it through.
No one pondered what he should do.
Of course, I can realize now how silly it is to assume that an unplanned pregnancy only affects the woman; there are two people involved in making that baby, and if the pregnancy is the result of a relationship between two people, of course it will affect the man as well.
So today, in honor of my book’s first official day of sales, I finally, six years too late, took the time to ask my husband how our unplanned pregnancy affected him and our relationship.
#1. The guilt. One of the first things he mentioned about the pregnancy was the overwhelming guilt he felt. “I felt so guilty,” my husband shared. “Like I ruined your life.” I was floored when he revealed that. Would you believe that I never even once considered that he was feeling badly? Of course, I assumed he felt a little guilty when he had to face my dad for the first time, but I didn’t consider that he struggled with feeling like he was the source of so much unhappiness and fear for me.
#2. Happiness. “I’m probably not a typical guy in this regard,” he said. “But I always wanted a family.” You have to understand that one of the biggest issues in a relationship when you and your partner experience an unplanned pregnancy is that you have to be very clear about why you are staying in the relationship and raising a child together, if that’s what you choose to do. In the back of your head, one (or both) of you will wonder if you would have stayed together had a child not been in the picture, and the last thing you want is those seeds of doubt planted early. Needless to say, this confession from my hubs made me very happy. Yay for no lingering doubts!
#3. Increased demands. “Things can [be] a little more needy in the relationship with pregnancy,” my husband related. And when I started glaring at him, he was quick to explain. “It’s not worse or a bad thing, but it’s just more,” he said. “Like if you’re feeling sick or you need to rest because the baby is killing your hips, we make it happen.” Ok, I’ll give him that one. Men, be prepared for more needs from your partner, but take my husband’s word that those aren’t always bad needs!
#4. Less talking, more action. Unfortunately, he’s not taking any marital action here. With this one, my husband meant that a pregnancy, especially an unplanned one, moves a couple past the dating days of staring into each other’s eyes and talking endlessly about love and their “relationship” into one of action. The pure, simple, yet incredibly complicated action of loving another person, even when they are, quote, unquote, extra “needy.” Ahem.
#5. Less of a guessing game. Apparently, my husband found our fast track into parenthood a relief. He claims that through the pregnancy and my subsequent journey into motherhood, I became easier to please. Which was news to me, in that I was so hard to please before the pregnancy … regardless, he said that the pregnancy forced us to be more open about our needs as individuals and a couple, without any of the “guess what will make me happy” game that was part of our early relationship.
And to finish up his deep insight into how unplanned pregnancy affected him as my partner in crime, my husband offered up this painting/relationship analogy:
“If our relationship was a painting, the beginning was like painting a masterpiece, with all different colors and attention to detail. Now? It’s like painting a house. It’s all the same color, and it’s fast as you can get the job done with the biggest roller you can find.”
I’m really not sure how to take that analogy.
But it sounds to me like he’s definitely calling me big as a house…
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