A reader writes:
As I read this to my husband his first reaction was "BULLSHIT!" Yes, I was the one who was pregnant, and I gained weight, and I gave up alcohol, and I went through labor ... so what? What WE got in return was true joy. My husband actually caught my daughters as they were being delivered so he saw them and held them before I did. He cut their cords, which disconnected the physical relationship I had with OUR babies. He changed their first diapers. I don't think I changed a diaper until we got home from the hospital. Since I was unable to breastfeed (a rare inability to produce breast milk), he was the first to feed OUR girls. He gave them their first baths and continued to do so until it was no long appropriate. Just because OUR girls spent 41 weeks in my womb did not make either me or my husband further ahead in the parenting process. Making these babies was a two person process and so is raising them.
I did not feel I was in some way behind in building my relationship with our newborn or that my wife had somehow been carrying the early parenthood load more than I. I was not pregnant, so I did not share those physical-biological experiences. But my role in her life in those months was not de minimus. Similarly, my role in her serious illness before (and not related to) her pregnancy, and my role in a subsequent miscarriage. In all three cases, the core experience was hers since is was in her body. But in each case I contributed meaningfully to our team approach to dealing with the situation we faced, and looking back, I felt (and feel) no need to "atone" or "catch up."