Pregnancy can be an isolating time in a mom or mom-to-be’s life. I can remember feeling so alone during my first pregnancy, especially before my mister could feel the baby moving from the outside. Here I was, full up with fetus and no one to share it with. I had zero pregnant friends – I was nesting and my peeps were still partying. The mister could, and did, sympathize.
He could grab the Pepto when my tummy was turning somersaults and run to the DQ when I thought I’d die if I didn’t get my peanut butter Blizzard fix. He could take over the heavy lifting and the cat poop scooping and even sometimes most of the chores when I was too exhausted to move. He could go with me to every pre-natal appointment and ultrasound. In other words, he could do plenty to participate in the pregnancy.
What he couldn’t do? Was gestate the baby. And that’s why it always drives me a little crazy when people say “We’re pregnant.”
I get the sentiment, I do. I even think it’s a little sweet. But if the mister had ever presumed to tell people that he was even a little bit pregnant, I’d have been calling the Weekly World News because that just ain’t right. He was expecting, not pregnant. He was taking the journey with me but he wasn’t in the driver’s seat. He was going above and beyond to support me and my hormone-driven peccadilloes. But there is no ‘we’ in pregnant.
Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines pregnant:
- of a woman or female animal : having a baby or babies developing inside the body
- containing a developing embryo, fetus, or unborn offspring within the body
Sorry, guys! In this sphere, it’s just us gals.
We’re expecting. We’re having a baby. We’re so excited! We’re shopping for nursery furniture. We’re thinking about baby names. There are plenty of shared experiences to go around during the nine months leading up to a baby’s birth.
But until we’re throwing up in the office bathroom every 20 minutes or we’re spotting or we’re taking the 3-hour glucose test or we’re developing a mighty intense labial varicose vein or we’re experiencing contractions without progressing at a 9 on the pain chart, it’s still us ladies doing the actual work of gestating and that is what being pregnant is. Kind of like how there’s no “We’re menstruating” or “We’re in remission from prostate cancer.”
Look, I’m never going to call anyone out in the moment for saying “we’re pregnant.” Whatever gets you through the day. But what I would suggest is that whoever is going so far as to include their misters (or missus) in the gestating should take a step back and ask themselves why. Is it a strong desire to include a partner in the entire experience of pregnancy? Or maybe, just maybe, the very real need for the kind of pregnancy support that comes from a place of empathy rather than sympathy?
As much as I love my mister and as supportive, sympathetic, and engaged as he was during my pregnancies, his ability to truly internalize the depth of feeling behind statements like “My vagina hurts” and “I’m being punched in the lung” and “I need a mango” began and ended at his good intentions. I believe that only another mom or a friend who has been through it can offer the kind of pregnancy support that cuts through the isolation it’s too easy to feel when you’re stumbling through the first trimester, not pregnant enough for public sympathy yet but feeling like absolute poop. Or when you’re waddling through the third trimester, out of breath and bone tired. Or when you’re worrying about what labor will really feel like or whether you’ll be able to get through it without drugs.
Or heck, even when you’re rocking that second trimester glow and feeling kind of horny all the time. Your mister might appreciate it, but he’s not going to understand it.
As I see it, the only good time to say “we’re pregnant” is when you’re sitting next to your pregnant friend comparing swollen ankles, chatting about epidurals, and eating peanut butter out of the jar. You’ll never hear me say that the roles a partner can play aren’t important. But pregnancy? That’s a biological fact. No boys allowed.