I’ve been deeply appreciative of my relationship with my husband lately, maybe more than I’ve ever been. It’s similar to the way that everything you love about a place stands out more when you know you’ll be leaving soon. I’m not going to work that comparison too hard; we’ll both still be here, but I know things will be different. V. has been working long, long hours lately, which in some ways is less than ideal, but then we’ve been having these great long meals where we just stay at the table and talk. In the space of those meals, I see all these amazing things happening- talk about the relationship and life after baby (big because he’s not generally comfortable articulating emotional stuff in conversation), improving the way we communicate both about our feelings and ideas/beliefs, and learning new things about each other. This last one never fails to shock me. We’ve been together for years. I figured we’d been over pretty much everything. It’s kind of great that we haven’t. Those meals, along with the time we sometimes take weekend mornings to just read quietly together or any other ‘just us’ things, are going to be much harder to pull off soon, so I am really savoring them more than ever. I’m grateful for the push to appreciate those things.
About a month ago we went to a weekend-long childbirth education class. We’ve since forgotten most of what we couldn’t have just read in a book, I think, but I took away something much more valuable. On the first night, the instructor asked us to fill out a short survey, and to write on the back a) the first five things that came to mind when we thought of labor/childbirth and b) the most important thing we wanted to learn. When we were done, she read these out loud, and although he had never hinted at these thoughts to me, I knew immediately which were V’s:
What I think about labor?
- The most beautiful experience in my life and my wife’s.
- What should I do? How can I help??
- Need to be relaxed even if I am very scared
- I want it to happen very fast and painless
- Hearing my daughter crying for the first time
What I would like to learn
I would like to learn how to support my wife during labor. What kind of activities should I do? (I want to be an active part of the experience.) How to hold the baby after labor.
And yeah, I totally made the instructor lend me that paper so I could bring it home and make a copy, and yeah, I’m totally blowing up his mostly-anonymous-anyway spot here, but.. I can’t not. Hearing and seeing those words made me fall that much more in love with my husband, and almost made me cry right there. (The instructor was clearly touched, too, if only because most other fathers’ five things consisted of such gems as “pain”, “blood”, and “screaming”.) That last part- he dreams about the baby. I have had exactly one, right before our 20 week ultrasound, in which the baby was born at 5 months’ gestation, a little girl (I was right!) who, despite being extremely premature, was perfectly healthy.. because she was an alien. Meanwhile, in his first dream, he dropped and disfigured the baby, and that nervousness was hard to shake.
More recently I see this all becoming more real for him. I could see early on that actually carrying the baby made things concrete for me in a way they weren’t yet for him, but since the beginning I have been able to picture very clearly how fast and hard he would fall in love with his daughter once she actually arrived. He’s been a great caretaker throughout the pregnancy, even when he didn’t ‘get it’, and has lately become all the more loving with me and the roundness in my tummy. He’s about where I am with respect to talking to her- he mostly says hello and asks her if she loves him and if she wants to play- but he definitely outdoes me with the kisses and occasional songs. His interest in reading and practicing the abouts and how-tos has officially been activated. This past weekend we went to a newborn care class, which might have been a waste of money but for the opportunity to see him change and hold that doll, and to let him experience that- I don’t think he really even noticed, but he treated it like the real deal the whole time, even when the instructor had moved on to non-hands-on topics and I’d set mine aside. And it looked like he’d been holding babies forever.
Long story short.. He’s got this. I’ve known that since before I married him, and I think he’s finally starting to understand it for himself. I can’t wait to see him in action.