While she buried her head in the books propped up on her swollen belly, she avoided the voices that told her she was alone in this new venture.
Some women crave pickles and some crave mint chocolate chip ice cream. She had cravings, too, but they had nothing to do with food. She had a deep craving for the sound of his voice asking her how she felt or if she was afraid. She craved his touch. She wanted – needed – to be held and comforted.
He rarely looked at her. She noticed that as her waist expanded, he looked at her less and less. Out of desperation, she pointed at her stomach and said, “I’m sorry I look like this.” He said, “Well, what did you expect? That’s what pregnancy does to a body.”
She hid under shapeless dresses and XL shirts. Standing next to her in the kitchen, he looked at her and said, “There’s barely room in this kitchen for the two of us.”
She made lists of baby names – without him.
She planned the nursery – without him.
She kept the details of her doctor visits to herself.
She made excuses for him. “He’s from a different generation,” she told herself, “a generation of fathers who didn’t go to doctor visits, or talk about Braxton Hicks contractions, or fold onsies.” She didn’t discuss whether to buy Dreft or if they should consider cloth diapers. All those decisions were left up to her. “That’s the woman’s domain,” he said. “I’m too busy at work.”
She should have seen the pattern – that he was just as disinterested in planning for this baby’s arrival, as he was in planning their wedding. She should have seen that if it wasn’t going to be about him, he would have nothing to do with it.
He stopped asking her to go hiking or float rivers. He couldn’t be expected to slow up his pace to allow her to keep up. “Besides, no one wants to see a pregnant woman in a bathing suit.”
Yet when she ventured out, in all her pregnant glory, she’d run into someone who would literally gush at her about the wonder of this new life. “It’s all your husband talks about,” they’d say. “He talks of baby names and hiking with a little buddy.” “He’s excited about this second chance at being a father.” She’d hear these comments and wonder why he didn’t say these things to her. Why wasn’t he this tender at home? Maybe he was frightened? Maybe he was the one who needed comforting?
Maybe this change was hard for him? How could she make him comfortable?
And so she put her needs aside. She tended to the details of getting ready to bring a baby home. She stopped wishing for tenderness from him. She no longer craved the sound of his voice asking her how she was, or if she might be frightened.
At 11 p.m. when she felt the first sharp cramps, she woke him and said, “I think it’s time.” He said, “There’s nothing I can do for you, I’d better get my rest.” She made sure not to make too much noise, so as not to disturb him. She watched television into the night, but she kept the sound off. At 5 a.m. he woke, came downstairs and asked, “How much time do we have?” She said, “I don’t know, but I’m getting a little scared.” He said, “Give me time to shower and check on some things at work. I should be ready by about 8.”
To be continued …