Is my partner in denial about becoming a father?
Welcoming a new life into the world is a momentous prospect and, for most couples, one which they relish. But, for some, the thought of parenthood does some strange things.
Do you ever feel that your partner is being slightly distant? Perhaps he doesn’t want to discuss names, or he doesn’t take an interest in your pregnancy? Below, one mum-to-be tackles this thorny issue and tells us what worked for her and her husband.
Bonding with baby
I know it sounds improbable, but from the moment I set eyes on my positive pregnancy test I felt a genuine bond with the tiny baby inside me. Well, it wasn’t even a baby, per se, but I certainly didn’t agree with others who described this stage of pregnancy as nothing more than a ‘ball of cells’. To me, it was instantly my child – it didn’t matter what stage of development it was at.
We’d been trying to conceive for a while, eight months or so. Enough to be faintly frustrated but not long enough to be worried. We’d pretty much had a textbook relationship; We had moved in together eight months after we met, got engaged two years later, married the following year and eighteen months after that we decided we were ready for children. And there was no way that my husband could disagree with that; he wanted a baby just as much as I did. Or so I thought.
Keen to conceive, I did the whole OPK thing (ovulation predictor kit) and tracked my basal temperature so before long I was alert to my body, what it was doing and when. Obviously, I was sharing all of this with my husband, and this was when I noticed a change.
Much like the course of our relationship, I think he just thought it would all progress without much effort, but I wanted us to be sure, so, maybe, with the benefit of hindsight, conception had become a bit clinical.
But finally, I missed a period.
I did five pregnancy tests “just to make sure” and he inspected the lines right along with me to see if they were getting darker. I was definitely pregnant – we were over the moon.
My first scan went well at twelve weeks, baby was a good size with a strong heartbeat and my dates were spot on. I immediately began planning where the pram and cot could come from, I had lots of friends with babies so I was pretty confident that we wouldn’t need to spend loads of money on baby equipment. I was in super mummy planning mode, but every time I tried to talk with my husband about plans and ideas, he kept saying we should wait, we shouldn’t plan ahead too much.
He insisted that he was excited, but something didn’t feel right. In the beginning I thought it might be just pressures at work, but as the weeks went by, he still seemed ‘off’ with my pregnancy. I tried to include him as much as possible in everything – even going so far as to tell him about my haemorrhoids – oh the shame! Sex was non-existent as he was afraid he’d hurt the baby and I really missed the intimacy and cuddles.
I began to feel the first flutters of movement at 18 weeks, and for me it was the most wonderful experience, but, of course, my husband wouldn’t be able to feel anything until a bit further on, so I felt even more alone in my excitement.
We’d decided not to find out the sex of the baby at my twenty week anomaly scan. But as it got closer and closer, I wondered if we’d made the right decision. If anything, my husband was becoming more remote. Perhaps if we did know the sex then he might find it easier to bond with the baby? I broached the subject with him, but apart from saying that he didn’t mind what I did, that was it. So when the day came and the sonographer began the ultrasound, I told her that we’d like to know the sex. I had a little wobble about it, but by now I was feeling quite desperate for my husband to feel even a slight bond with the baby. We’d chosen the names Bella for a girl and Teddy for a boy. So when the sonographer turned to us and said “It’s a little girl” I immediately squeezed my husband’s hand and said “Hello Bella”. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen as we watched her move and kick inside me. When I did turn, I saw Graham’s eyes were full of tears.
And that really was the turning point for us. Knowing that we were having a daughter gave him something to focus on, rather than it just being ‘the baby’. He was still a little tense about the whole pregnancy, but we discussed it and rather than just shutting me off, he admitted that he had found the concept of having a child scary. And he hadn’t expected to.
And I guess that’s it for all of us – we never know how we’re going to cope.
As my bump grew ever larger and her kicks began to be felt on the outside of my tummy, my husband’s uncertainty vanished. He was suddenly the one who was looking at Bugaboo travel systems and co-sleeping options.
I think if I had to advise anyone in a similar situation, then I’d say – keep sharing your pregnancy experience with your partner, but don’t force him to have one of his own.