I don't know what I did last summer. It is still a nightmare to me, for that's when I was pregnant with our first child - Lil General and neither of us knew what to expect. It was living through hell the first trimester for everyone that made my husband wonder, "If this is the woman I knew for almost half a decade and married." But eventually everyone cooperated to put me at ease and "tolerated" all my tantrums for 8 months and let me tell you that's a LONG period. Everyday just seems SO long. All is well that ends well and a year later we realize it was just the hormones at work. Here are a few tips for husbands whose spouses work and who live in a nuclear family to cope through this difficult period and make it fun:
- First Rule: Once you know your wife is pregnant, let her be herself. Overdoing the "congratulations" part just put me off at times though it was a very much planned pregnancy. It often made me think, here I'm going through this tiredness and nauseating feeling and everyone is thinking of celebrating. To hell with all that, I'm just going to crash. So if you get a hint that your wife isn't very appreciative of it, then please wait till the first trimester gets over to announce it to everyone. There is a reason why elders advice you to wait it out before you can announce. She will feel better and will not be overwhelmed as much in the second trimester. You can have all the celebration you want then.
- If she's not in the mood to talk to anyone, do not force her to be social. It can be stressful on you and your family, but remind yourself "Its the hormones at work".
- If there is a smell that doesn't suit her, avoid if possible at home. Most mild smells can cause irritation and she will be highly sensitive to smells. I could smell urine by the miles and would almost throw up every time someone used the toilet.
- Little gestures make a big difference. Even if you area late sleeper, go to bed with her and put her to sleep a like a baby at least 3 nights in a week. It will make her feel good and not feel alone.
- If you can afford a domestic help who cooks the food she is used to, then great. Else if you can make her breakfast once in a while, please do so. Women generally like the food they used to have as a kid. I had grown accustomed to eating North Indian food for the past 7 years but strangely when I got pregnant all i craved for was food that my granny made when I was a kid.
- Listening to good music : Good music soothes the soul and is good for the baby. Listening to shlokas in the mornings can do wonders. But even switching on that music player can be an effort for your wife, so go that extra mile and play the music for her. As months progress, sleepless nights will haunt her frequently. Friday nights were "World Space" nights for me. I would go to sleep listening to Hindi oldies.
- Keep the volume low : Avoid actions that can irritate your wife like long hours on your cellphone after getting back home. Keep the volume low that will help her sleep and make her feel important and good.
- Good Mornings: For many women, morning sickness is high though it was a breeze for me. Help her get up in the morning with what makes her feel better like biscuits etc. A good start to the day will pave the way for a good day ahead.
- If you were one of those couples that did everything together like shopping for grocery, paying the telephone bill, visiting the dentist or running to the next door kirana shop to get a packet of milk, then be prepared for times when your wife will not feel up to it to accompany you. This will also prepare you for the coming years when the baby comes and your wife may not accompany you on all the household chores.
- Give the formality a break: There may be times when she may not feel up to it to talk to everyone that calls you. For instance, your parents or her parents may be on the phone so if she doesn't feel up to it, you play her part as well.
- Weights : Offer to fill water in the kitchen and let her not lift any weights like groceries or that huge pack of vegetables. It is better to be safe than sorry. I know there are a lot of women who have managed the show themselves well and would call me as a pampered pregnant woman, but it is better to be safe than sorry. For I know quite a few instances where weights have been harmful for the mother and the baby resulting in miscarriages.
- Its not personal, baby : There might a lot of things that she might say in a fit of rage. Don't take them personally for it was never meant to be. She is just not herself.
- Encourage her not to eat out if that doesn't suit her : A lot of food cravings will be there but if it makes her feel awful later, encourage her not to eat out and prepare the same at home if possible. I once ate Gobi Manchurian and felt awful for a week afterward and I had it knowing fully well it wouldn't suit me.
- Visits to the doctor : I know woman these days can manage the whole show by themselves but it will just make them feel good if you go together for your monthly visits to see the development fo the baby. Plan your visits for Saturdays if thats an off day for both of you.
- Get used to your wife walking like a zombie (or should I say sleep walking?) at or after midnight looking for food/water. I did that a lot and scared the hell out of my husband on many nights when he was up working and I would just appear out of nowhere and disappear into the night again.
I know you are not a super man either. But with a little love and effort you can be. The woman is doing her part in bringing the baby to this world :) Most of these points have been written over and over again. It takes an effort on the husband's part to do all of these without losing one's cool and there are times when it will physically , emotionally and mentally drain you to manage work , home and your wife.