First let's start with a good old
and mix in a
Pregnancy is portrayed in the media and social circles as this awesome thing that happens where it hurts a lot after 9 months of all these happy feel good changes and picking out toys.
Well, it's not. Women go through so many temporary and permanent changes. It's more like 2 months of "Woo hooo" followed by 9 months of "This is the worst I have ever felt in my life." Some women have an "easy" time, some do not. But it should be mentioned that an "easy" time just means they're slightly less miserable about the situation.
I mean they get fat, bloated, crampy. It hurts to stand, walk, sit, lie down, fart, poop, pee, yawn, breath, or sneeze. Their private areas are essentially put on display for the entire population of their town to see. Everyone from neighbor to doctor will have something to say about their boobs and vagina at some point (as a soon-to-be dad, ready yourself for this one). Her sex life and choices are about to be public knowledge and are now somehow considered open for discussion and debate.
And to top it all off, emotionally, they're a basket case. And even when they're not, they're expected to be. So much so that, as they get fatter, people around them assume they get dumber and less independent. To add salt to the wound, at the end they actually do get dumber, and less independent. (Sorry, there are studies on this one, that show that near the end they lose a few IQ points as their bodies now have to care for two.)
There are many wonderful things about being a parent. Hell, even childbirth can be an amazing experience. But never forget, to her there are tons of downsides too. Society just doesn't talk about them.
What you can do
- Be open with her about how you're feeling. You are excited. You are curious.
- Do not try to get her excited. She will get there on her own.
- Do not try to force your expectations onto her.
- Recognise that the second time is different than the first. The first time she may not have known what was in store for her (for each woman it's different); this time she may think she does (usually each pregnancy can be different).
- Do some long-term things. Buy a crib, or paint a room, or more importantly, make a purchase that shows that you will be there too. Buy a father-and-son bike for when you new unborn baby is 5. Seems silly but it's evidence that you will be there.
- Try not to tell her how to feel, eat, or act. Keep in mind that as her partner it will be your job to remind her how to feel, eat, and act, when it comes time. But try to keep it to an absolute minimum. For example, You may have to step in and go "No we can't have spicy foods, the docs said to lay off the spicy foods, let's go get flavorless mush #4." But that's not a card you should play very often. You may also need to (and this is more common) step in to de-escalate some pregnancy crazies. I mean, if she is going batshit crazy yelling at the store clerk because they're out of banana yogurt, you will need to pop in and remind her that she also likes strawberry yogurt or that you will go to another store for her and get some. Again, not a card you want to play often. But some women's emotions do run amuck during pregnancy. As for feel, remember all her feelings are valid, they may just not be permanent. You may have to stop her from ending a friendship of 20 years because she is angry, but you should never tell her she isn't angry.
- Create a "mom spot" which is a quiet, comfortable place for just her, where she can go and relax.
- Create a "dad spot" which is a quiet place you can go to relax. Tensions could get high and a parental time-out works wonder. Especially when your emotions get high because you don't understand how handing her the blue towel means you're going to leave her, because she is having a girl, and there are no peaches in the kitchen.
Super Most Important
Spend time with her and the current child. After the birth, time will be a precious commodity that you WILL NOT HAVE FOR MONTHS. The first weeks and months are basically a zombie state in which you somehow survive by sheer force of will alone. The two-year-old will feel neglected and abandoned BECAUSE SHE WILL BE. You won't have the energy to read Three Little Pigs for the first few weeks. You will, and you need to, fall into a routine of "ok, everyone's alive, let's get some sleep". This will cause problems, but it's short-lived, and if you spend some time now explaining, and bonding, then it won't be so bad. Especially if you get your current child "to help" with the new child.
When to seek help
Now is as good a time as any. Mention it at her next prenatal exam. It may be nothing, it could be a sign of a serious issue or imbalance. It's probably nothing. You're excited because it's your first, she's not because she knows what to expect for the next 7-8 months. But if you're following the common practice here in the US, then you're gonna have tons of visits, so make sure to mention it. Make sure to keep it as "I feel" and not "She doesn't feel".