Sometimes the littlest things make the biggest difference!
You’re expecting a baby—congratulations! This is the beginning of a wonderful and exciting time that you’ll remember and cherish for the rest of your life. But get ready to roll up your sleeves, because your wife is going to need you now more than ever.
For most women, pregnancy comes with a barrage of ghastly symptoms—nausea, heartburn, vomiting, nearly debilitating fatigue—and those are just the most common ones! The transition might give you a bit of whiplash: One day, your wife is running around like her usual energetic self; the next, she’s flat on the couch all day, sipping ginger ale.
The two of you might be fortunate enough that her symptoms are minimal. But given that more than 70% of pregnant women experience significant symptoms, it doesn’t hurt to expect that things will be topsy-turvy for a while. Know that you absolutely have what it takes to care for your wife during this time. These three ways of supporting her might be game changers for your family.
1Pick up the slack around the house.
Maybe she loads the dishwasher at night, and you unload it the next morning. Or you do the laundry while she cleans the bathrooms. Whatever your normal routine is, it’s about to be thrown off. She’s most likely not going to feel well enough to do her usual chores.
At first it might be tricky taking care of everything by yourself that you usually divvy up between the two of you. It’s natural to feel a little stressed about adding more work to your already full plate. But if you think about it, she’s doing the even harder work of growing a baby, and she really needs your help right now.
Take a minute to sit down and game plan how you can handle both of your household duties for the time being. Maybe that means you might be eating more frozen dinners than usual, or eating off paper plates more often. That’s OK! Frozen meals, paper plates, and all those other time-saving tools were invented for these kinds of occasions. Figure out what you need to do to pick up the slack she’s not able to handle right now, and put your plan in place.
2Look for little ways to take care of her.
Pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period put a lot of stress on a woman’s mind and body. This season of your marriage is a chance for you to model the Christ-like love you’re called to as a Catholic husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
What little ways throughout the day could you help care for her, at a time when it may be hard for her to take the best care of herself? A lot of pregnant women feel most nauseated when they’re hungry, so not surprisingly, nausea is often worst first thing in the morning (hence the term “morning sickness”). But who would want to get up and hunt down a snack, much less cook a full breakfast, when she’s feeling so wretched?
This is where you come in. Bring her whatever food she’s able to keep down. That might mean saltine crackers or a bowl of cereal, although you get mega points if you whip up a frittata or casserole over the weekend so she can reheat a slice each day for a healthy, filling breakfast that nourishes her and your unborn baby. Look at that, you’re a great dad already!
Maybe your wife has even worse symptoms, and finds herself throwing up throughout the day. You might hold her hair out of the way, rub her back, and bring along barf bags when you’re out of the house.
Or maybe she’s feeling mostly all right, just really tired. Plan ahead so she can take a nap in the afternoon or go to bed early, refill her water throughout the day so she can easily stay hydrated, or stock up on the things that give her energy (vitamin supplements, coffee—whatever works). You get the idea. However you can serve her in small ways during this time, go for it.
3Be fully present.
Let’s be real: Becoming a parent can be incredibly overwhelming. There’s so much new information to learn, and new lingo to remember, that it might feel like you’re drinking through a fire hose. It might be tempting to zone out a bit and let your wife handle all the decision-making and planning.
But your wife has never needed your support and presence more than she does now. The decisions to be made will affect not only both of you but also your baby, and very well may have lasting effects on your growing family. So whether it’s paying attention in childbirth class, painting the nursery, or holding her hand in labor, make the most of this chance to be the husband and father you’ve always wanted to be.
And one last important point: Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. You can’t take great care of your wife and family if you’re exhausted and running on fumes. No one can pour from an empty cup, so take time to refill yours.