Thursday, January 8, 2015

Not My Baby

I grew up with a single mom. My mom made all the decisions for my sister and I. Even when she remarried when I was 15 she still made all the decisions for my sister and I: my stepfather did not play a parental role.

Now I'm having a baby and I have a husband. I'm not a single mother. But all I've seen in parenting styles is single style parenting because I grew up that way. While I experienced a closeness with my mom that I'll value forever and I loved growing up with her, I will admit that I am used to seeing one parental figure make all the decisions with little input from a spouse or partner. I have been blessed by this in many ways--but of course like all styles of parenting there are things I need to learn. And things I might not realize I need to learn, but that I still, regardless of my particular feelings on the matter, need to learn.

I was a bit confused when, after my second baby appointment my husband expressed interest in attending the next prenatal exam with me. I thought he was just being nice. I mean, I've never heard a man discuss pregnancy in any sort of positive light before. And I've never ever heard of men attending their wives doctor visits. I couldn't imagine why he would want to go with me. Wouldn't he be bored?What could he possibly do? Later he expressed that he'd like to go to my doula appointments as well. I got a bit upset with him at this point. Couldn't he trust me? Didn't he think I could make good decisions for our baby? Why was he trying to intrude on what I vehemently thought of as my time? Plus, I said, the baby is in my belly. It is mostly my baby right now. It didn't occur to me that he could make any positive contributions at the moment. Everything I was learning related to me and my body, to birth and prenatal health: things my husband by nature of his otherness to myself could not affect. I felt like he was encroaching on what I thought of a "my" time with the baby, my bubble of learning and growing, a special time that was not related to men in any sort of fashion.

When I told him this (in a slightly more upset manner, because hormones) he, as you might imagine, was confused and agitated. He just wanted to be a part of it all, he said. He just wanted to learn and grown and experience things with me! And he wanted to be there to ask questions that I may not think of. He didn't want to step on my toes--but he did want to raise this baby together and make decisions together. Yes, the baby is in me right now. But it's partly his baby too. Somehow I'd forgotten that. (How could I forget that??)

I don't know if other women feel this way, but to me the baby feels like my baby. I don't quite understand it. It's inside me. It relies totally on me right now. It just feels like mine, and the fact that my husband wanted to "help make decisions" ruffled my feathers for some unknown reason.  Once I realized how I was feeling and that my feelings didn't make any sense, I was able to talk more openly with my husband without getting mad. I don't know if I felt this way because I had a single mother or because I've never heard of a man being interested in appointments and birth or just because of my selfish-I-can-do-it-alone nature, but I had to realize that I was happily married and my husband and I did make this baby together. And thus, even if it still seems rather foreign to me, it is not weird that he wants to be a part of this life with me. It just feels weird to me even through I don't know why.

I'm still mulling over it in my head. Why do I feel this way? What is it that makes me feel this way?


Sarah said...

I understand how you might feel like the baby is more your baby at this point because the baby is in your body. I think that's natural. You're the only one who is sustaining and carrying the baby at this point. I don't at all see how that makes the baby any less your husbands baby. Obvioulsy you wouldn't even have the baby without him. I think it's very sweet he wants to join you at your appointments. MANY MANY fathers do. He probably wants to hear the heartbeat just as much as you. My husband went to as many of my appoinments as he could. He often thought of questions that never occured to me. Maybe he wants to hear about what you should/shouldn't be eating so he can try preparing or buy you food that's safe for you and the baby. Frankly I think you'd feel awful if he showed no interest in you, the baby or anything related to him/her for these nine months!

Paula Merrill said...

It's easy to feel that way. Even growing up seeing a mom & dad together it's easy to feel that way. You have a way of bonding with baby, and he doesn't. That bond is so different with moms than it is with dads, but that doesn't mean that dad can't bond with the baby too! His interest makes pregnancy so much more enjoyable. I loved that DH was so into coming to appts with me (at first-then the middle ones are the same-go in for 2 seconds then leave so he didn't go to all of them), or into hearing about them after. I even had DH sing songs on my phone so I could play them to the baby with headphones. There are so many ways that dads can bond with the baby at this point. It just helps encourage bonding after baby is here.

Carolynn said...

Hehe. I guess I should have said that he does a lot to support me and to bond with the baby, like talking to my baby, helping organize the room and stuff... It just struck me as weird that he wanted to go to the doctor with me! It didn't make me feel bad at all over the thought that he might not want to. It mostly surprised me that he did want to!

Cody Doll said...

I think it's cause you grew up that way and you are horminal. James came with me with I had my womenhood check up. And if we ever had a baby I'd probably have him involved because he can handle things without the crazy emotions. He'd also be the one to take care of me if something were to go wrong. I think its amazing that your husband wants to go with you for everything. Enjoy it, celebrate it. Let him in. This is a good test for later down the road.

Stacie Rose said...

(I've never commented on this before, so let me just give a fair warning that when I have something to say, I tend to say it a little more strongly than I mean...apologies in advance)
I can't say I understand how you feel that way, because I've never felt that myself, but I do understand that you have a different perspective that I don't have. Let me try to explain my perspective to maybe help you find the middle ground. My husband went to every single appointment, and every single class. I wanted a father for my baby, and by doing those things he was being a father. Think of it from his perspective, as a father and not just the man who offered you the ingredient to make a baby.You already have something he doesn't have. You get to carry the baby (which at times may not seem like a blessing, but it is). You get to feel the baby move. You get to breastfeed and have that bond (if things go well). You get to be the one who stays home with him/her, to be the absolute number one caregiver above every. single. person. on the face of the earth. That is you. He doesn't get that, and yet he will still have a deep, deep, bottomless love for this child just as you will. But he is not the mother, and he doesn't get the privileges you naturally do. So what does that leave him? He's just kind of there. He helped you make it, and his pay check will help provide for it...but isn't there more to being a dad? I KNOW that's not what you think and feel. It's very obvious you love your husband. But even if he KNOWS that too (and I'm sure he does), sometimes the feeling is still there. Don't you think he's trying to be more than that? He wants to be a awesome is it that the father of your child is involved! That doesn't and shouldn't just happen after the baby gets here. That should happen now. Someday your child is going to have croup (as mine does right this moment), or the flu, or insomnia for whatever reason, and your heart is going to melt when your husband is up late helping you take care of your child because he loves you and wants to help AND because he is the only other person who loves your child the same way you do. I think that is the key thing to remember when things get difficult (and if you're having this issue now...try to work it out because it will be a lot harder when the baby is here). Always remember that HE is the ONE person who loves your child as much as you.

My advice is to give him a say. Let him make decisions. Let him be involved as much as he can, because even if you feel it invades YOUR special time, he can never have what you have. My husband wanted to go to every single appointment because he wanted to be there to hear the heartbeat when I did. He wanted the details on how the baby and I were doing. He wanted to ask his questions (even when I thought they were silly), and he wanted to have the memories of the doctors who took care of us. He wanted those things, because he is the type of dad who takes his turn at rocking the baby and singing/praying with him every hour and a half when the baby gets croup...which he is doing right this moment. I am a control freak, and it is a very severe issue I need to work on. In that regard I can kind of see where you're coming from. However, there are times when I simply back off. Because he deserves to be a dad, and my kid deserves to have a dad. So I'll swallow my need to have control. I'll let him ask his questions and make decisions. He stepped up, and we're living in a society where so many don't. It's a blessing to wrestle with...but it's still a blessing.

Jamie said...

I felt the same way when I was pregnant with my daughter. She was MY baby. Hubby/Daddy was really involved with everything too, he wanted to be at the appointments and he was always asking questions/comments about baby development. It felt weird to me because my own father never cared that much about me while I was growing up. I always knew any child we would have would end up with one of the world's best fathers in the world, but it still felt foreign to me that a father would be so involved right from the beginning. When I found out I was pregnant I was shocked and he cried. My daughter is definitely a daddy's girl. Sometimes I feel a slight tinge of jealousy when I see my husband and daughter interact because I didn't have that growing up and I wish I had. A father's love and nourishment is so important for girls and boys. My daughter is very blessed to have her daddy, I know I picked a winner when I married him.

Cliff Coates said...

I find it interesting that you have never heard of husbands wanting to go with their wives to the doctor (while the wife is pregnant), because my impression is that most husbands now-a-days want to attend with their wife, in an effort to be a supportive spouse.

Btw, I am glad you are feeling so much better! :)

Deanna Fike said...

peppy went to about half of my appointments when i was pregnant with gage, as well as all of the child birthing classes. with owsley he didn't go to any of them. apparently it was old news by then. ;-) but i can understand where you are coming from. even once your baby is born, there is a slight divide. and if you decide to'll seem a little bit more one-sided. but i think it's awesome that brian wants to attend your appointments with you.