Partners-to-pregnant women, hiiii! I see you and you’re doing great 👏 . True, you’re not the ones afflicted with cankles and ‘roids and the three tons of bricks sitting on your vagines, but, still, let’s give some credit where it’s due – because your role isn’t always a walk in the park. For one thing it can’t be easy to feel like you’ve kinda lost your BFF to a sweaty/ pants-peeing/ falls-asleep-at-8pm/ demanding/ compulsively nesting / laughing-crying maniac — but, still, there you are every step of the way, supporting and doing all the things. You come to the appointments, have read the books (or chapters, anyway) and even watched the Ricki Lake documentary. You rub her feet during Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you assemble 1-2 pieces of baby items each day, you leave the room if you must eat yogurt (gag trigger), you planned a babymoon, and you sprung for an in-home prenatal massage (during which she fell asleep). You really are slaying it.
But here are few extra tips, gestures so small as to seem like nothing at all but ones that can really make a difference. During my own pregnancies, these tiny-but-significant things made me feel deeply held and propped up — which in turn gave me an extra spring in my step. Well, maybe not a spring (that belly is heavy), but you know.
1) Come home with an ice cream sundae from McDonald’s. The element of surprise used to literally make my day. Am I crazy to suggest the thrill was on par with Christmas morning/ Hanukkah Night 1? Possibly. But possibly not. I just don’t understand why McDonald’s practically gives these things away when they are a national treasure. This treat checks all the boxes: sweet, creamy, cold, and effortlessly glides right on down. Your unborn baby wants it!
Speaking of food…
2) Make dinner happen. You don’t have to cook, you just have to make food appear. Depending on the stage of pregnancy and symptoms, her relationship with food — and particularly food-handling — might be complicated, which is why it’s brilliant if, when possible, you can just take the whole enchilada off her plate (you guys I had to). For preggers me, it was always such joy and relief to simply be presented with something to eat. But not something gross. Or too spicy, heartburn-wise. Or too pungent. Uh… maybe check in with her first?
3) Be antisocial with her. No matter how appealing an invitation sounded or how much I adored the host/s, I was kinda bummed because frankly I wanted to be braless and in front of the TV all the time like this –
So, here’s a deeply generous gift you can give your partner: reach into thin air and find a reason you must decline the invitation and stay home to watch a movie instead. King among men.
4) Keep the house cool. Yes, even when you’re freezing your teats off. Don’t burden pregs with a “conversation” about the temperature or suggest a “compromise.” You can pile on more layers anytime. She is layers.
5) Offer to sleep in another room. Not all the time, of course, but as a special gift once in a while. Like many women, my sleep was a mess during my pregnancies — and it was an insidious cycle whereby my mounting anxiety about said sleeplessness made things even worse. So having the bed to myself every so often was glorious because I could get up to pee every hour, sprawl to my heart’s content, and flop around like the beached whale I was without ALSO worrying about disturbing your sleep. And the sacrifice wasn’t for naught; one night of good sleep went a long way and made me feel like I could conquer the world.
6) Gift her a pedicure. A nice, decadent one, like at a place she wouldn’t normally go – like a place where there is cucumber water. The further along I got in pregnancies, the more important it felt to have nice-looking feet, given that everything else below the waist (not that I had a waist) was a bit of a mess. A special pedi made me feel like a foxxy lady with candy for toes. Again, not that I could see my toes, but I knew they were there.
7) If you have another child, whisk them away. Taking care of a young kid while you’re preggers is a special kind of crazy-making, especially in very early and very late stages of pregnancy when you’re most at the mercy of your symptoms. So if there’s another child at home, take him or her out for excursions when you can. Long excursions. Where? I don’t know – honestly, anywhere. Casino? Fine.
8) Roll with her emotions. You already know this, obvs. But here’s a reminder that bone-tired and hungry like the wolf are just the tip of the iceberg. When you have TWO PEOPLES-WORTH OF HORMONES inside you, you’re on an aggressive merry-go-round of all the feelings, which in my case included excitement, overwhelm, terror, exhaustion, irritability and juice-obsession, which isn’t technically an emotion but may as well be. Sure, I knew it wasn’t ideal that I inappropriately nervous-laughed at the terrible news you shared about your great aunt, and, likewise, I wish I didn’t have to cry over a mobile phone commercial. But c’est la vie. She = roller coaster, you = passenger – which is to say that whatever she’s dishing out, take it.
9) Take photos of her. It can be really easy to forget to snap pics, especially during a second or third pregnancy when it’s old hat. But she’s going to want to have these photos later and so will you. I loved having my picture taken when I was pregnant — not a staged pro session, just regular snapshots — because it made me feel like a (large) work of art, AKA pretty. It felt nice to be “beheld.”
10) Speaking of, tell her she’s beautiful. Because it’s true.