Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My husband is Sicker than I am

It does come up. About every other month, someone calls to ask if it's normal that her partner is more concerned about the approaching due date than she is. Then she admits that his backaches are keeping him up at night. Couvade's is real; we don't classify it as a mental illness and we don't know if it's psychological or physical BUT they do throw up.

In some cultures it is very acceptable for the male partner to adopt the pregnancy symptoms experienced by his better half. I think it's kind of charming to offer this empathetic companionship. But on the other hand, it does detract from the very real travails of pregnancy that you are feeling and all the special attention that goes along with them.

Some men get post- partum depression, for real, as evidenced by a recent study, about ten percent of American males. So why not Couvade's? Men most often experience the symptoms complained about in the first and third trimesters. Makes sense because the second trimester is pretty nice. Not much to complain about.

That first trimester men get morning sickness. They have trouble sleeping and concentrating. They get pelvic pain. Sound familiar? Third trimester they really start to notice the weight gain and heartburn, bloating and leg cramps. Some swear they feel life. Kind of hard to believe. No joke.

What to do about it? Start looking forward to delivery and hope for their nesting instincts to kick in beforehand. Maybe they'll get inspired to help with the nursery and organize the house. Point out the vacuum cleaner and show them where all the bowls go when the dishwasher needs emptying.

Seriously, be supportive, as any good partner should be, no matter what the beef, and recognize that although you are the real pregnant person here, they are feeling the big change coming, in their own way. This is indeed a family affair and he's getting into the swing of things mighty early.