Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Pregnancy: The Relationship Wrecker?

I have never found relationships to be the easiest, quite possibly due to the men I have chosen and my own ‘baggage’, but I don’t think I quite realised how pregnancy can possibly provide the biggest test of all.
My first trimester was quite tough on me physically and emotionally, and in turn there were times I would be quite low, irritable and at times frustrated with how I had no control over my body. I attempted to talk to The Bloke about this, and the typical man that he is, feelings really are not things he seems able to identify or understand.
So there were definitely times that my mood swings and his inability to understand why I was having them, would clash hugely. We have had fights because I have spent all day vomiting and he has not attempted to even visit me to mop my brow and kiss it all better. He will argue that I need to just rest and at times he has thought I have been overdramatic, which I think has led him to not giving me the support that I have desperately needed.

I have tried to explain to him how pregnancy affects your body and your emotions; the biggest one I try to hit home to him is that I CANNOT CONTROL MY HORMONES AND I DONT KNOW WHEN THEY WILL ERUPT, as he seems to think I can tell when they are going to explode. He will say things like: “Why don’t you just calm yourself down?” and “Don’t use hormones as an excuse”.
Oh I wish they were just an excuse, I really do. The reality is, especially in the second trimester, the hormones ARE ALWAYS THERE! I am constantly feeling on edge, anxious and highly emotional. If someone even puts a coffee cup down without a coaster in my living room, or asks me to do something minor at work, I visualise wrapping my hands around their throat and never letting go.
Things that used to annoy me slightly, now feel like the biggest issues in the world. So when he says lines like the above, it upsets me all the more that he really has no clue what I need.
I actually hate myself at the moment, but even I have to remind myself that this isn’t the real me, it is my pregnancy talking, or as I like to think of it, my evil twin.
I have bought him a book from the male’s perspective of pregnancy, and have even found expectant dad forums and blogs for him, in the hopes he will start to understand the part he needs to play in this pregnancy and to keep our relationship together, but nothing seems to have got through.
I came across an amazing blog post on called ‘New Baby? So You’ll Be Needing A Divorce’. She talks about the need for a couples to be more aware of how pregnancy can test your relationship to the extreme, and she even provides advice to men in the form of a letter which I will quote here:

“Dear New Daddy,
The next year is going to be tougher than you can imagine.
Remember “For better and for worse”?  This is the ‘worse’ bit.
You are going to be sleep-deprived.  Seriously.  And worse still?  Your wife is going to be sleep deprived.
Yup.  She’s also going to have a whole range of rapidly-altering hormones that affect her mood in ways you can only begin to imagine.
She’s probably feeling sore too, after the birth, and rather deformed, having lost a baby bump and gained enormous breasts.  NB Your wife will not like her enormous breasts and will feel unattractive, no matter what you say.  None of her clothes fit her or suit her.  She hasn’t got the time or energy to go shopping.  She thinks she doesn’t look so great right now.  Understatement.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  Elizabeth Stone

What with the fluctuating hormones and No Sleep, your wife will be feeling all sorts of strong emotions.  She can go from laughing to sobbing in seconds.  She will also be grumpier than usual (much grumpier) and is likely to unleash her short temper on her nearest and (until now) dearest: you.

You must learn to do what John Gray (of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” fame) describes as “dodging the blows”.  That is to say, you must not allow yourself to be hurt by the things your wife says to you during this phase.  Don’t take them personally, even though you will feel attacked.  She is not really attacking you.  She is expressing her confusion and frustration.  She needs you to support her, no matter what.  So grit your teeth and stand by.

You will feel second best.  Remember the bit about having your heart go walking around outside your body?  Your wife will feel So Strongly about the baby that she will only have eyes for them.  Their welfare, comfort and happiness come first.  And second.  And often third and fourth too.  Don’t expect to feature on your wife’s radar for quite a while.  Several months is normal – maybe even a year.  Don’t even think about getting between her and her sleep(!) until the baby is able to reliably sleep through the night.

Sleep deprivation will not only make your wife tired and grumpy, it will also make her slightly mad.  She will become absurdly paranoid, develop strange fears and hallucinations.  She will need a lot more reassurance than normal.
All you can do, during this time, is wait.  Be patient.  Hold on.  As you will learn, in parenting: This Too Shall Pass.
It’s just a phase.  I promise.
You’ll get your wife back and your life back.  It’ll be good again and even better than before.
Just see it through, ok?  Tolerate the bad times.  Dodge the (hopefully metaphorical) blows.  And wait.
Wait some more.  Be patient and strong. Stand by your wife as she comes to terms with motherhood.
It’ll be worth it.”

That pretty much sums it up for me, I just need to attempt to get The Bloke, who is currently doing all in his power to stay the hell away from me, to read it and see that despite me being an evil person right now, my screaming, shouting and moaning is in fact telling him the following;
I have never needed you more than I do right now. Please show me love, care, affection and take all my mad hormonal rants without so much of a flinch or nasty word back, so that I can get through this pregnancy as safely as possible, and not all alone.
Don’t judge me by the way I act right now, and remember after this I will be back to the girl you fell in love with. My job is to carry the baby and go through the physical and mental pain for 9 months, and your job is to endure my hormonal outbursts and be my rock for that time.
Let’s just hope this all sinks in for him as soon as possible, so I can have a better last half of my pregnancy, and can finally sit and enjoy the feeling that we are about to become a family.
I will keep you posted!


  1. That is the book I got for Joe too - he loves it and has pretty much finished it already - but won't read anything else as he feels he won't be able to relate to it! I'll have to make him read it all over again! x

  2. Hey Claire, came across your blog from

    Thanks for that letter. Found it very useful too! All I can say is hang in there, I know what you're going through as well, but I guess I've been blessed to have a partner that's a lot more understanding (most times!).

    And like you said, hopefully it will sink in for him soon enough :)