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Navigating Pregnancy as a Team

Having a baby is one of the most beautiful experiences any of us can have. It’s also a huge responsibility, and many pregnant couples need support keeping their relationships healthy and strong. 

Just as it’s wise for engaged couples to get some premarital support from a couples counselor, it is wise for pregnant couples to begin actively working on their relationships as they’re preparing to build a family

The physical and emotional changes that come with pregnancy can be difficult for both partners, and the arrival of a baby can completely change your relationship. Sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, and the nonstop demands of a helpless newborn make it challenging to prioritize relationship growth work, right when you need it the most.

Relationship problems after having a baby are common. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Pregnant couples can use the training ground of pregnancy and childbirth to prepare to become an unstoppable team, ready to raise some happy, healthy humans while keeping their relationships strong

This article will help you do that. If you’d prefer to listen, I’ve also recorded an episode of the Love, Happiness and Success podcast on this topic. You can listen here (player below) or on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Important Conversations for Pregnant Couples

If you are expecting, it’s time to begin exploring the mindsets, attitudes, and expectations that you and your partner are bringing into parenthood. If that sounds challenging, now is the time to work on the communication problems in your relationship. Pregnancy and parenting are tough, and without good communication, the experience is likely to pull you apart. 

Most people without kids aren’t aware of the expectations they’re carrying into parenting, until they’ve partnered with someone whose expectations differ from their own and it creates friction in the relationship. 

To start, talk about how you grew up, and what aspects of your parents’ approach you would like to carry forward into your own family, and which you would like to leave behind. You can also learn about frameworks like gentle parenting and attachment parenting, and talk about what tools you like. The goal is not to reach perfect agreement, but to understand each other better and build a foundation for resolving differences in the future. 

It’s also important to talk about how you’re working together as a team. Teamwork is an important part of every relationship, but it becomes crucial when you’re preparing for fatherhood or motherhood. Does your relationship feel egalitarian as it is now? Or does one of you feel unfairly overburdened? Starting that conversation now will help you prevent unnecessary resentment and conflict in the future.

Advice for Pregnant Couples: Know what to Expect

There’s a lot of advice available for new parents, but here’s what no one tells you: You can’t ever really prepare for parenthood. As a parent of two, I can tell you that having a baby will throw some unexpected challenges at you. The best you can do is navigate them as they come, and have compassion for yourself and for your partner in the process. 

But setting reasonable expectations for your relationship is important. When new parents have unrealistic expectations of themselves and their partners, having a baby becomes even more of a stress fest than it needs to be. 

If you are ready to have a baby, here are a few things that you should expect:

  1. Expect to feel challenged 

Pregnancy comes with stress, hormonal changes, periods of illness and “downtime,” and in some cases fertility challenges and pregnancy loss. Once baby arrives, you can expect to feel challenged by the adjustment, while getting less sleep than you need to feel your best.

Emotions will be running high — do you have a good system in your relationship for resolving problems together? Or does every difficult conversation seem to turn into a nasty fight? If the latter sounds like your relationship, that is okay. But it is time to start addressing the issue. 

  1. Expect to need support

I work with many independent, hardworking people who’ve accomplished a lot in their careers and personal lives. They often expect that having kids will be one more thing they can do on their own — but that is not the case. 

Every parent needs emotional and practical support, whether it’s from friends, family members, a couples counselor, a nanny, or each other. To parent without losing your mind, you should start identifying your support system now. 

  1. Expect your relationship to change

Your relationship will change in ways that you can’t fully anticipate. It might be that dealing with your difficult in-laws goes from feeling like a mild irritation to an emergency. Or that your relationship starts to feel unequal and out of balance with a baby in the picture. 

The ways you connect with each other will change as well. If your love language is doing fun things together, that is about to become more difficult, and you may feel less satisfied and connected to your partner for a while as you adjust. 

Positive Relationship Changes after Having a Baby

But not all of the news is bad! Having a baby together can change your relationship in some positive ways, especially if you invest in your relationship proactively and continue to grow together

Here are some ways that having a baby can change your relationship for the better:

  1. Increased commitment

If you’re having a baby, I hope that your commitment to each other is already strong. But it is likely to become even stronger through this experience. You will have newfound empathy, compassion, and appreciation for your partner as you work together toward the most important shared goal of your lives: raising happy, healthy kids in a loving, supportive home. 

  1. Opportunities to grow together

The dirty secret of personal growth is that it doesn’t happen when we are comfy. We experience the most significant personal growth spurts when we are challenged, and nothing will challenge you like becoming a parent. 

When you face that challenge together, you will find opportunities to grow in your relationship and create a greater sense of shared meaning and purpose. 

  1. Greater emotional intimacy

You will both need emotional support along the journey of parenthood. When you find ways to give that support to each other, you create a stronger, deeper connection and nurture your relationship after having kids.  

Support for Building Your Family

Becoming parents gives you an opportunity to work on your relationship in meaningful ways. 

When you strengthen your relationship with your partner, you are strengthening your family. That is a legacy that will outlive you both, and the greatest gift you could give your children. If you would like support on this journey from a marriage and family therapist on my team, I invite you to schedule a free consultation

With love, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. — For more help and support with relationships and parenthood, check out my “Happy Families” collection of articles and podcasts.


Music in this episode is by Jook with their song “Growing Together.” You can support them and their work by visiting their Bandcamp page here: https://shop.jookington.com/.  Under the circumstance of use of music, each portion of used music within this current episode fits under Section 107 of the Copyright Act, i.e., Fair Use. Please refer to copyright.gov if further questions are prompted.

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Navigating Pregnancy as a Team

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Free, Expert Advice — For You.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Dr. Anthony and Rachel, thanks so much for joining me today.

Dr. Anthony: Thank you very much, thank you.

Dr. Rachel: We’re excited to be here.

Lisa: Me too. Well, and so to jump right in, so you guys have done so much great work around, really trying to help couples navigate this very unique experience of pregnancy. And if it’s okay to ask, I mean, we talk about personal things here, here on this podcast. I’m so curious to know why this particular subject became such a passion area for the two of you.

Anthony: Yeah, for me, it’s a lifestyle type of thing. So get married, you got to work together, and there’s no way around it. And then when you have kids, you have to continue to work together, there’s no way around it. So we started to see that there’s this commonality, like, no matter what we have to work together.

In pregnancy, I think sometimes it’s kind of brushed off as “Oh, yeah we’re having a kid.” But there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it. First off the idea, and the privilege of being born, it’s just one thing. And you kind of respect in that process with your partner. And being able to experience that with your partner, there’s a lot of valuable gems that you can get out of that. There’s a lot of things that go on within that process, of the pregnancy process, that will just kind of enhance your relationship, and you just have to know where to look for and you have to know how to identify.

So I have this thing I like to say where once you know something that’s kind of normal, it helps you understand things a little bit better. And there’s a little bit of comfort in that normalcy. So when we write this book, we want to say “Hey, the thing that you’re possibly going through is normal. And what if you looked at it this way, and had the idea and the objective to enhance your relationship and enhance your marriage? And what if you looked at it that way?”

What if this whole nine month experience was literally just so you can enhance your own relationship? If you look at it from that perspective, you may look at different situations and different scenarios much different than you have.

Lisa: I love that perspective. And I think it’s so important to be talking about because, truly. I mean, how you handle that pregnancy experience can turn into a growth opportunity for your relationship. You can be improving your communication and problem solving and working together as a team.

It’s so important to use that time and like the opportunities that pregnancy brings to do that kind of work. Because if you don’t, I mean, it gets a lot harder when the baby shows up. And a lot of couples — and I say this as a marriage counselor — feels like they kind of fall off a cliff, especially if there have been kind of like relational ruptures along the way during pregnancy.

Then you have this baby explosion in your house, and you’re really not equipped to be able to like, communicate, it’s all problems and do all the things. It can get so bad, so fast. So I’m just thrilled that you guys are talking about this and like educating people about this. It’s really important.

Rachel: Yes, so I think the pregnancy stage, a lot of folks look at as an anomaly, like it’s this instant in time that you’ll go through, and it’s okay, if it’s completely different than normal, everyday life. So if we were good and communicating and no stress prior to that, and then you have pregnancy, and it’s like, everything is on fire, it’s okay, because it’s just for these nine months, and then-

Lisa: We’ll get better?

Rachel: We’ll go back to the way it was. And I think that that’s the missed opportunity of identifying a high stress situation, which is really when you need to focus more and use those tools more than when everything is going good.

So that’s really one of the key messages we want to send is like, this is the perfect opportunity to work on those skills and build those skills. Because if you can do it during pregnancy, you can pretty much do it during any other phase of the marriage.

Anthony: Think of how dynamic the pregnancy process even is. Now let’s take a situation where you didn’t know that you were pregnant, and oops! We actually use that term.

Lisa: The Oops!

Anthony: You didn’t know that was gonna happen. Now you’re going from a life of whatever you want to now you have to start off by hey, nine months, something completely different is about to happen. How shocking that can be, and you have to realize that like there is an adjustment that can be made, like right there. And in the book we kind of go over that because we have two kids, two year old Aaliyah, and five year old Taj. Taj was our, “Oh, okay, we’re pregnant.”

Lisa: I had that experience too. We had a love child. That’s what we call it at our house

Anthony: We should have said that, a love child. It was interesting to me because even though Taj was kind of a surprise, I thought Rachel and I had this discussion. We wandered down the street, I said, “Hey, Rachel, if we continue to do you know what we’re doing? You know what the result of what happens is.” And she was like, “Yeah, that’s fine.” I was like, “You’re okay with that?” She was like, “Yeah.” I was like, oh, cool. I’m proactive. I haven’t talked about it. We talked about it. And, and then soon as it happened, she was like, I can’t believe it was happening.

But it just goes to show you like even though you didn’t plan it, like there’s the investment that can be made, I thought my communication was on point. I thought I was very clear on what would happen if we did X, Y, and Z, and my logic did not translate to her emotional state at the time.

So now there’s an opportunity for me, maybe just being very logical. My definition is not the answer to this. Now, maybe I need to figure out a way to adjust to Rachel’s way of grabbing information and digesting information, and consider the timing between things because logic and emotions. They don’t really-

Rachel: Even preparation, honestly. I think there’s a level of people feel like, “Oh, well, if I’m prepared, then I’ll be okay.” But you can never truly prepare for what your mental or emotional state will be in any instance, regardless of the amount of preparation that you do right? In a moment you don’t know exactly how you would react, even if you think that you’re going to react one way, it may turn out that you react a completely different way.

That’s the kind of the unknown, that preparing by building together those tools and strategies and how we communicate and how you support each other come into play, when you know, it’s game time, and you just react versus, “Oh, yeah, it was gonna go this way because we planned it.” So the big, kind of the big tools that you really want to kind of continue to work.

Lisa: I love that. It’s like there’s, there’s all these like surprises that we don’t expect. And that is like the work itself. That’s why I really appreciated the way that you organized your book, you actually did it by trimester. I think that’s really smart, because it’s like, there’s different kinds of work that couples really need to do in each of those stages of pregnancy.

So like, I don’t want to say we had the same experience, but I know that when Matt, and you know, we’ve been married for a long time, but kids were not on the- I was very busy. I was too busy to be thinking about having children while I was in school, like I was doing my things.

And then this love child situation. And it was scary and kind of overwhelming are we going to do and, and just like the whirlwind of just emotions and fear and all this stuff, and just to be able to feel like, connected and like to have an emotionally safe relationship, what to talk about, what are we going to do. And like that was a real important bonding experience for us. And one of you know, many opportunities, like these fork in the road moments that couples have during a pregnancy.

But it really made me appreciate, like what you were saying in your book about all of these different things that couples can handle. If they’re handled well, they strengthen a relationship, they build trust, they build connection. And if they don’t go well, it’s like they create these fracture lines and ruptures that are not going to get better after the baby comes. So it’s really crucial to do this work.

So in the first trimester you have lots of opportunities to have emotionally safe, connected conversations around, “Whoa, what does this mean? How do we each feel about this?” You know, a logical, as you were saying, way of thinking and planning versus an emotional reaction.

And Rachel, I don’t know if you had this experience, but one of the things that shocked me the most about pregnancy was the reality of these like big hormonal changes and like, I felt different. I thought differently. I had feelings coming up that probably didn’t make a lot of sense, but they were so real

And even if those are kind of validated and there’s conversation and connection like that can be bonding and if there’s dismissiveness, and invalidation and like, that’s not what happened. You know, I mean, those are real wounds that start that death by a thousand cuts.

Rachel: I think that’s a great call out because that’s something that even post pregnancy and into motherhood continue. Because we don’t talk a lot about, “Okay, yes, everybody caught during the pregnancy stage, oh, it’s the hormones, it’s the hormones, it’s the hormones.” But then motherhood is like this whole scenario of emotions and mental state that never leaves. 

Anthony: Hormones are a little sticky.

Lisa: Never. It is more than hormones. It is attachment.

Rachel: It never leaves. It’s not more hormones!

Anthony: This is life. This is regular.

Rachel: This is life. But if right, you build and he identifies how to support you through the hormonal stages, then even into motherhood, parenthood those are continuous things. I mean, this happened yesterday Taj’s going into kindergarten, had a full meltdown yesterday, after orientation.

Anthony: He cussed.

Rachel: He cussed! Now he’s going into kindergarten, it’s this new school, it’s this literally- a whole meltdown! And he’s just like, okay we prepared for this. And it’s the same things, that he did. and we went through during the pregnancy that he was able to, okay, coming up again.

But it’s just as in a different scenario. That’s why we felt that the pregnancy stage was, it was just the greatest kind of phase to utilize the example of things that will just continuously kind of cycle throughout your marriage. It’s not just pregnancy, that’s just a great place to prepare. 

Lisa: I love it, because this isn’t like a blip. It’s not like this thing that goes up and then comes down and then it goes back to the way it was. It is a crucible, it is a transformational process that is more than hormones, that is attachment bonds. It is like you are redesigned during this process, and you’re fundamentally different. 

Anthony: That’s why I tried to when I talked to like the support partners in the group, I tried to let them know that like this, this person that you’ve decided to have a child with may not be the person that, that you think and that’s okay, because they’re busy. They’re making a baby. And it’s a lot of stuff that goes on in there.

So I don’t like to call it a lash out. Because I try to keep these experiences as just being experiences and not negative experiences, I don’t think it’s fair to say, “Oh, Rachel lashed out.” Rachel is doing what happens when you are growing a person in your body and things get mixed up. So Rachel is reacting.

So when your spouse or your wife or partner reacts, this is how you react to them. Now, you may not see any change, because I remember through the whole pregnancy I go “Hey, Rachel I don’t think that’s it. I think this is how you should do this.” “You don’t know!” Well, Rachel I understand that perspective. And there was no, there was nothing to keep me going outside of the fact that I was just committed to Rachel’s like, well being.

There was no proof, no logic. Nothing I said made sense. And it’s okay. It doesn’t have to make sense because I’m not here to win an argument. Or I’m not here to say, “Hey, Rachel, you’re right. I’m wrong. This is absolutely what you should do. I’m here to show that I am just 100% committed. And if you want to yell, it’s okay. Cool. If you want to laugh. Let’s laugh a little bit.”

But what I like to focus on in the book is if you can focus on just the commitment to your partner, everything else falls in line. Don’t try to be right. Don’t try to fix literally, you have to listen, and then you have to talk. Listen and talking throughout the whole thing. We call those..

Rachel: Emo deposits.

Anthony: Emo deposits where the support partner, what we’re doing is we’re making these little deposits like little quarters. I’m saying, “Hey, Rachel, I think you look awesome today.” “Well, I look fat because my stomach is blah, blah, blah.” “Well, I guess you would think that but I think it looks really good.” Or “Hey Rachel, we should go on a walk today.” “My feet hurt.” “Yeah, maybe we should just go outside just a little bit.”

Because now what you’re doing is you’re making those little deposits, those little deposits. And we know that this is just a phase just as you said. You think back, and you like “Oh, why did I cry over french fries? Doesn’t make sense.” But then when you get into these real situations where your emotions are actually high, your emotions are actually fluctuating in a way that makes sense. And you really need me now.

Now I’ve made those deposits over time. And now I have more credibility today because I made those deposits and I’m able to say, when I say Rachel, let’s just calm down. Let’s just think about this for a second. I have the right to say that and she’s now able to listen to me and accept the things that I said, because I kept taking those punches in the face.

Lisa: Punches, but I just, okay. But I get what you’re saying though, like you, you earned her trust you invested in this emotional safety and, and Rachel, I mean, I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember half the stuff that I flipped out about during pregnancy, but it’s the feelings. I bet you remember those moments when you just felt that support. So I love what you call that: “emotional support person” and the support person? Is that what it was like for you, Rachel?

Rachel: Absolutely. So again, I mean, to your point, I couldn’t tell you why I was crying or why I was upset, but…

Lisa: Non-verbal — doesn’t even matter.

Rachel: I could remember what it felt like going through those different phases and those different scenarios. And I do think that importance of building those emo deposits really did help for moments, like yesterday, when I had a meltdown, then him kind of doing those same things, it’s immediately a calming thing, because it’s familiar. Because it’s not just a one off, it’s something that he does on a regular basis.

So immediately, it’s a calming moment for me. It’s a safety moment for me, and I know I can feel vulnerable, and if I need to cry or yell or whatever it is, I know that I can do that without being judged. I’m in a safe place. That, for me, was helpful going through the pregnancies. You know, with Aaliyah, I would say even more than with Taj, because with Aaliyah, I was very sick, it was a much more trying pregnancy for me.

So that emotional support, I would say it was even more of a necessity for me to get through that pregnancy than it was for Taj. So I mean, that’s even a thing where your pregnancies are all very different. Those journeys are all very different. You need different things. So that’s even an evolution in itself is each time that you get pregnant, it’s not necessarily going to be the same and you can’t prepare the same way. You can’t support the same way. So it is really kind of taking on each journey as its own throughout the marriage.

Lisa: Yeah, well, okay. And so I think what I’m hearing is that, like in that the first trimester, and I think that this was certainly my experience, and I know many people can relate. The big core things are either the big emotions that come up during that time, and often like the physical unwellness that can come up during that time.

So like, the big theme, maybe of the first trimester is those emo deposits, the emotional deposits, like it’s okay to not be okay, and we can feel the feelings and not feel good. And I’m here for you, I am here in this with you. And like that’s, that’s the growth and healing in the first trimester.

Rachel: Yeah, the first trimester is definitely important, because it’s the adjustment phase too. You know, you’re both adjusting to the idea of either your first child or you know, another additional person in the house, adjusting to your body, to the hormones.

It’s an adjustment period, across all facets for both people.

Anthony: For me too, yes.

Rachel: For both partners it is very important. And so I do feel the focus of the first trimester is building that foundation. That gets you through the rest of it, but a lot of that it, just a phase.

Lisa: Can I ask you about something and so and I’m glad that you’re also using, you’re saying like it was both of us. And one of the things that I did want to ask you about because Anthony I love the way that you like you identified yourself as like, I’m a support person. And I think that that’s so helpful and like just nurturing I think for men to take that emotional like caretaking in some way, role in a conscious and intentional way. Because that’s, that is so important.

But let me ask you this, I do think that a lot of times and rightly so, the pregnancy, transition and process — it can be very heavily kind of focused on the female’s experience. And it is also true that you know, there can be big feelings coming up for men during this experience and sometimes big emotions and even ambivalence, fear. We connect with our own childhood stuff when we get pushed into the pregnancy experience.

So I’m wondering if you also have any thoughts or advice on how to create some emotional balance I guess. That support balance for male partners that takes into consideration both people’s needs, you know?

Anthony: So here’s the thing that she runs the show from a standpoint as she’s making the baby. Without her making the baby, there’s no, there’s, it doesn’t exist. That’s why I do say support partner because I think that that’s, I don’t want to overlook that.

I do have my emotions and things but where you can look at things a little bit differently is, how do I view certain situations? Or what is your role as a pregnant person? What things can you alleviate from me? Because the big thing a lot of times is, oh, you’re not pregnant, you’ll never be pregnant, you can’t relate. And I think that stems from wanting to just jump into your, anytime you want to help somebody jump into your bag of experiences.

“Oh, I used to do that, this is what I did. Or I experienced this, this is what happened to me,” and you try to relate on a level that’s talking about what you’ve experienced. But that’s not the case here, because I can’t experience that. But what I can tell is what it’s like to live with somebody for nine months and to be next to them in bed when their back is hurting, or try to figure out ways to help because as people we want to be able to help and especially as men, we look at us, we’re very solution driven, very problem solving.

So it gets very frustrating when you can’t solve the problem. And when you have this group of men that are trying to support their partner and trying to solve the problems, they just don’t know the answer is not necessarily to solve the problem. And looking at problem solving differently.

The answer, how you solve the problem is just to be there and be supportive for them. So what I would talk to Rachel about is, “Hey what things do you think that you can do?” to kind of help me. And what I mean is Rachel doesn’t feel like getting up, I’ll go get the remote. Or maybe I’ll go open this or I will get these things. And these are easy things because we’re solution driven. But that can get very comfortable. That to her for, as a person who do the same thing over and over for 30 days she can get very comfortable when we come up to her with a glass with a straw in it. 

Lisa: Holding it up to her lips, I love it.

Anthony: Everybody can get used to that. And what you can do to kind of help your support partner out is identify those moments where you can actually do for yourself? What are the things where you can actually get up and go? Does it hurt for you to get up? Or are you kind of comfortable because your support partner is doing everything they can to solve your problems. And you can actually do the things yourself.

Because that is a nerve wracking thing for us when we can’t figure out how to solve the problem. But now you have nine months of me trying to solve the problems getting up at every situation trying to figure out, hey, can I do this? Can I do this for you? Can I do this? And then it doesn’t stop at nine months, you think that’s the point.

Then when the baby comes, you have a whole another set of problems. And before you know it has been two years you kind of going non stop. So there’s a maturity issue here, where you as being a pregnant person should look at your situation and say, Okay, what are the things that I can honestly do for myself that may relieve him? Because I know he’s committed. And I’m going to do these things. And I know he wants to solve these problems, what are the problems that I can solve myself?

You have to ask that question to yourself, from a very mature standpoint, you gotta have that conversation with your partner from a very mature standpoint. If you guys can sit in these couple of check-ins, as we have in the book, and you can talk about some of these things, I think that you’ll come to the conclusion like, hey, actually can get up a little bit earlier and do this. It doesn’t, it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t really hurt, I just like it when you do.

Making that differentiation because in a long run, it gives us a little bit more bandwidth. And it allows us to get over that hurdle of, hey, how can we solve problems? How can we fix this? So that’s something that is- I think that’s a perspective that’s not necessarily talked about a lot.

Lisa: I think also what I’m kind of hearing between the lines and I hope that this is okay, is that this pregnancy experience really illuminates the way that all couples kind of give and receive love like those love languages. And so Anthony and just hearing you talk on this — just a guess, we don’t know each other very well — but like you have a love language that’s very much around those acts of service like caretaking and doing things for people and solving the problems and that that’s how you’re really showing Rachel a lot of that love and support and then also being that emotionally calm supportive person during that pregnancy.

But I think I’m also hearing you say that part of the work here would be then for Rachel and and we can apply this to different love languages and all kinds of different situations but is Rachel for you to understand that that’s how Anthony is showing you love and like giving a lot to you and that that that does start to get tiring after a while and that he needs to have some of that burden lifted in order to create balance.

But that’s probably unique to your relationship, whereas maybe a different relationship and partners that have different ways of giving and receiving love. There needs to be a lot of conversation around, “Here’s what I feel like I’m doing for you. But it’s maybe starting to feel out of balance for me. And so here’s what I need for you.” And that could be conversation. For some couples, it’s like physical intimacy or doing fun things.

I know that my husband, he’s a talker, he wants to talk about things, which is so funny because people meet him. And they’re like, “He’s so quiet, why doesn’t he say anything?” But you know, to have conversations about stuff. And so that’s a really good reminder.

I think the central thing here, to Anthony, you were saying like, I want you to ask me how I’m doing than what I need sometimes. And maybe I need you to take on some of this stuff yourself, would have been one of those conversations at your house. But it could look a little bit different, like depending on the dynamics of that relationship is what I’m hearing right?

Anthony: Approach is everything. Well, first off, Rachel had time, like I love it when you get  sick, because it feels like I get activated like oh.

Lisa: Yeah,like I know what to do.

Anthony: You need me right now. So basically it was like, “Oh, you’re not feeling well, gotcha.” Now you put pregnancy as like nine months of that? Oh, I catch it. I’m ready!

Lisa: Like I was made for this!

Anthony: I think it’s probably most, most men are helpers because we’re problem solvers. Now that like it’s before, the only thing is, is we try to solve problems that aren’t necessarily identified as problems in the right way. Supporting your partner is about getting the right answer, or getting the right shoes. They never like any of the shoes that you purchase for her. They may hurt her feet or discomfort, but it’s about the acts of doing it. Just solving the problem is, emotionally you’re getting in her head.

Better than no, hey, I may have missed these, this mark maybe a couple of times, but I want to keep going and keep trying. Because I’m committed. I’m committed to the process of you, to the process of us. And that’s my whole mindset. And that’s the whole perspective of what’s what’s in the book. We’re problem solvers. Let’s figure out the right problem to solve. And when we look at it in that perspective, then I think it’ll click for a lot of guys.

Lisa: Oh totally. Well, and it’s with this fantastic perspective like that, the emotional needs and learning those skills and being able to solve problems on that level. So, okay, so the first trimester is all about, like, really this the solid foundation, the attachment bond between two people, how do we create safety and support and make space for each other intentionally? And when that goes well, we get closer together.

If we’re fighting about how each other feels, we’re feeling unsupported that creates those ruptures and cracks so that that support phase is important. What do you think is different about the second trimester of pregnancy? I know in your book, you kind of talked about that as a different phase. So I’m curious to hear like, what are those growth moments that a lot of couples experience during this transition, you’re kind of unique to that second phase of pregnancy?

Anthony: Patience is gold, right?

Rachel: It’s probably more about what the conversations are about in the second trimester. Like I mentioned, the first trimester is really that adjustment phase. So it’s just getting used to the fact that okay, we’re pregnant, we’re bringing in another person like, it’s just getting that foundation prepared, whereas when you enter the second trimester, okay, foundation is paved. We kind of know what this is. We’ve been through some sickness or uncomfortableness. We’re recognizing that there will be continuous adjustments throughout the phase. Got that.

Now, we can actually have conversations. So I think the second trimester is really more about being comfortable in having conversations that you may not have had before or aligning on goals or strategies or morals. It’s planning. So it’s, I think it’s the opportunity to have deeper conversations. And that’s really what it shifts.

It turns more into let’s get aligned. Trimester one is okay, let’s figure out how we build the foundation. Let’s get through the adjustment period, figure out how we give each other grace. Phase two, second trimester is now let’s get aligned. So let’s have some of those deeper conversations, so that when we get into third trimester which is really kind of starting to like plan for go time. It’s more do. It’s okay. we’ve already aligned on what we want, you know how we want this to look what we believe. That’s the second trimester.

Lisa: That’s awesome. So you’re saying that like the first trimester is like this primal, like, ah! Especially with her first pregnancy, and we’re all bonding and taking care of everybody and like, sitting on the floor of the bathroom crying, like doing these things. And then the second trimester, everybody’s kind of calmed down a little bit like, okay, this is what we’re doing. And then it turns into really deep and meaningful conversations about the future — how we want this to look.

What are some of the crucial conversations that you hope every pregnant couple could have during that second trimester related to hopes, dreams, values, family of origin experiences? What kind of parents do we want to be? What are some conversation starters you would advise?

Anthony: Yeah, well, one of those conversation starters is kind of like how we’re bringing somebody into our family, what are our values? What are the things that we are interested in? And it’s actually a good opportunity to get to know a partner a little bit deeper? Because I mean, I don’t know if you have conversations like that. I mean, we didn’t when we first had a kid.

Rachel: Very broadly.

Lisa: I had only thought about it months after our child was bored, so to do it ahead of time is much better. So don’t do that.

Anthony: So we’re looking at situations now like, hey what are some things that are important to you? And it’s like, she’s like, oh, well, you really want them to grow up like this. Rachel and I come from two completely different backgrounds.

Lisa: Most people do.

Anthony: Rachel’s a two family household, I was a one parent household.

Rachel: Two parent household.

Anthony: What did I say?

Rachel: Two family.

Lisa: That’s cool.

Rachel: I come from very large family much smaller.

Anthony: Much smaller. So then, when you start to talk about those you realize, like, what you kind of want, like, who grew up doing a lot of activities and stuff? Like, yeah,I’m gonna get them, I want to make sure they’re involved in everything. And you know, my mom, single parent, she didn’t really have the resources to do a lot of those. I get involved in some stuff that they want, but this is no big deal. Rachel’s like, what do you mean it’s no big deal, it develops this, this, this and this.

Some things I look back on here, and I’m like, whoa, who are you? What is this? So having those conversations at that time is very good, not even just for the baby, or for you to understand like, this person is, that’s about to birth out another person. And starting those conversations off like that, I think it’s a life hack. And if you’re smart, write those things down, you commit them to your memory, and you try to figure out ways to implement those experiences within your marriage, not just when the baby comes.

Rachel: And we were pretty intentional about that in a book and that we give you something to write. That’s on purpose, because you know, these aren’t just shouldn’t be just one time conversations. Go back and review. What did you write down? What did you guys talk about? Do you guys still feel the same? It’s opportunities to kind of continuously review and grow and just stay aligned.

Lisa: I’m so glad you guys are talking about this in your book. Because you know, as a marriage and family therapist, what is routinely true with any couple that’s not having a good time in their relationship, so much of it is often connected to these different family of origin experiences, like very different family cultures, and backgrounds and norms.

So an intervention that is commonly used is something called a genogram, where we’re mapping out different families and who did what and personalities, what the culture was like in each family, but then talking about you know, what we want to create in this family that you guys are building together. 

I’m so happy that you’re addressing this in your book and really like framing pregnancy as the opportunity to be doing this important work because I think for a lot of couples just developmentally before pregnancy and kids start coming into the picture. Our relationship is organized around such different things.

It’s what do we do for fun and our careers and we like each other and like we’re going on vacations and like, you don’t really need to talk about a lot of this other stuff, but then In that second trimester talking about these hopes and dreams and expectations, and every couple has oftentimes big differences in family structure, socioeconomic kinds of perspectives. My family culture was very different from my husband’s and you don’t even realize that these are going to be potential problems and that there are going to be clashes, it’s usually around children and parenting or money is where these things will come up in a relationship.

Anthony: We do talk about money a lot. And we talk about little things that come up that we didn’t think is an issue like, oh, what should we name a child? And it’s like, oh, well, I think that we should name him this. Like, no, I think we should name this. It sounds very small and childish, until you actually dig a little bit deeper.

Because my experience, I was like, hey, Rachel, why don’t we name — before Taj was Taj, experimenting with names. Why don’t we name Taj, I don’t know, something else? And then Rachel’s like, “Absolutely not.” And it’s like, whoa, wait a minute, why did you choose to approach? Why did you choose that? Like, I just said what I think and then you completely shut it down.

I think that’s a learning moment for her. And for me, okay, maybe we can communicate just a little bit differently. Like, even if it’s an emphatic “No” on the inside. Let’s not throw that out, like too fast. Like, why? Because, you know,

Lisa: What’s that about for you?

Anthony: Yeah. She doesn’t know. And I didn’t know. It was not until a little bit later. I’m like, man, this is probably why I was a little bit passionate about this name versus this. She didn’t know, I didn’t know. But it was an opportunity to be like, hey, let’s not just discount the feelings or suggestions that each other has as it relates to anything, not just baby names because you don’t know the impact or not. Rachel is naming Taj, my son’s name is Taj D’anthony Ward, and I knew I wanted him to have my name. But I didn’t know why. And Rachel was on the fence about it, She was like yeah, I don’t know. Now, I really wanted it. But I didn’t know why. Recently, my dad passed, and his name is Anthony. And now there’s so much kind of lineage in that. 

It’s very powerful for me to say my dad’s name is Anthony, I have an Anthony in my name, Taj has an Anthony his name. And I didn’t know that at the time. Rachel didn’t know that at the time. But you know, the best thing to do is approach every situation as if it’s like an incredibly impactful thing. You don’t necessarily want to just just dive and shoot something down immediately, because you just don’t know the impact of it, especially when you’re in the safe space of just kind of brainstorming things. 

And you’re thinking out loud, and you have no idea, like the routine and a practice for that. It’s just saying stuff like, oh, well, what about this? Yeah, these are my thoughts on that. I like it. It’s like a Middle Eastern name, or is this this, this and that, like just learning to approach situations not from a position of conflict, but out of a position of just curiosity? Ask some questions like, hey, what is that name? What is this? What is that, huh? That’s cool.

And then it allows you, it’s kind of a cheat code, because it allows you to hear things that you’re saying out loud and develop different opinions. Like oh, Taj is a small word, small letters, easy to spell, blah, blah, blah, blah, all it is, would look good, X, Y, and Z. Whatever the thoughts come up, as you say these things out loud, and you just have a genuine interest and curiosity of it. That helps you form more educated decisions and opinions and share that with each other. You guys come back much closer to a resolution.

So it’s about your, your approach, and just being very curious versus being very argumentative about your situation.

Lisa: Such good advice, I love that curiosity of your partner, if there’s reactions or if there is space in between you any differences of opinion, or if you notice yourself having a reaction to something just to be curious about that. Like, because it always makes sense. Even if you don’t have it at the top of your mind, it always makes sense.

It’s connected to a value or a hope or a dream or something that’s important to you. And any of these differences are opportunities to increase your understanding of your partner, of yourself. It’s opportunities for connection and you’re right, so many couples take this as, oh, no, I need to convince you that I’m right and you’re wrong.

And you know, and it turns into a conflict and that’s such — a tragedy isn’t the right word. Though it is tragic. I mean, it’s a lost opportunity. That could have been a great conversation.

Anthony: That’s what I was thinking. It’s more like, it’s a missed experience. And that’s what this book is. We want you to get the most out of the experience by these different situations that you come across. This is what you can extract from the first trimester or second trimester is not necessarily talking about the negatives of things and this may be my own super optimistic kind of views on everything.

I think everything is a learning experience, like you learn from everything. And the value is really figuring out what you’re supposed to get out of the situation, not necessarily trying to get through it. I talked to Rachel all the time. I love the process of things. I like the process of things more than I like the actual destination, because once I get there, it’s over. I slow walk these experiences all the time.

Lisa: That’s wonderful. But you know that this whole experience of pregnancy is really something to be savored, I mean, it’s so special, and like having all of these moments of connection that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. I mean, that’s, that’s part of what makes it special. Okay.

Anthony: Well, I want to get into this a financial piece of things.

Lisa: Oh, yeah, let’s talk about that. Because that also gets really real for couples during this audience as well. Yeah.

Anthony: And the advice that we just kind of offer and look, I mean, everybody is at different financial levels, things are different. So we try to figure out trying to get you to get on the same page today. What are we comfortable with spending money on? Let’s go down the list of the expenses for this baby, we need to get on the same page there.

Maybe we need a budget, maybe we need to cut out some bigger things. Maybe these things happen. And around trimester two.

Rachel: It’s definitely a second trimester discussion. You know, you don’t want to wait till third trimester, because if you need to put changes or plans in place, you need to start them early. Right. So this is, again, one of those deep conversations that should be happening during the second trimester to get aligned. Finances is definitely an important alignment conversation for a second trimester.

Anthony: Yeah, and we’re very practical of that portion. And now we’re gonna go over some strategies that we know/ What our nine to five jobs offered at the time. And how we took advantage of a health savings account that maybe people may not know about. And you can take that and strategically use that to pay for certain medical expenses and pay for formulas and things. And it comes directly out of your check and it’s tax free.

That’s one way that you can use that HSA, you can use it a bunch of different ways. But we go with very practical strategies like that. I mean, Rachel and I, we whiteboarded it out. And you were saying, okay, I’ve made this amount you make this month, this is how much comes out. This is what we’re going to have leftover. This is how much it’ll cost to have the baby. So how do we get to this amount for the next.

We get to the second trimester. So we have this amount of time left to get to this, they offer payment plans so that means we can do this is a very intentional strategic approach, very practical, which is why we have all the space in the book for you to write those things down and consider those type of things.

Because that’s one thing that we share that we absolutely, just the like, where are we? How do we get to this amount? Do we need to cut out things, do we need to find a side hustle, or whatever the case may be? Let’s figure this out. And then once we know what the answer should be, we can work on that solution together. So that’s a big part.

Lisa: I have to tell you, I’m just sitting here with you guys. And I apologize for this. I tried. I tried not to do this, but I’m sitting with people when I’m not actually being a couple’s counselor, but I’m just sitting here thinking about, first of all, how cute you guys both are, but also like, what a beautiful relationship you have.

No seriously because like, even just the way that you’re describing your process, and it is so matter of fact, we got out a whiteboard and like did the math and had the conversations about what we’re getting. 

So many couples, like I mean, really struggle to have those kinds of conversations without it getting so fraught. Do you know what I mean? And Rachel you use this word alignment. And I’m just sitting here thinking about how all of this very intentional work that you guys obviously have been doing like in that first trimester phase of your pregnancy set you up for so much success.

There’s just so much trust and goodwill in the way that you’re talking about even having these conversations. You’re aligned as a team, we have this thing coming up, how are we going to solve this problem.

But there’s so much unity and I love that. You guys talking about your own process is setting such a beautiful example, I think for couples who oftentimes have so much tension and like emotional stuff that comes up around money, people feel criticized, they feel misunderstood, they feel judged. And I’m so glad that you’re addressing this. And it’s just it’s beautiful what you guys are doing here. Truly, you’re an inspiration.

Anthony: I mean, money can be an insecure topic. Yes. And you want to create a safe space for your partner. So you know, you don’t want to belittle the other party, you don’t want to be like, well, you only make this much. I mean, when I talk, even every situation, I always say I don’t care if I’m doing 100% of work 80% of work, I want to say we, just because I just want it in the head is this going to be we. Even Rachel, some of the work.

Lisa: It makes such a difference.

Anthony: Rachel does do 90% of the work on 60% of our- but being able to have a safe space to say, hey this is what I think that we should do. Or this is what I’m going to try. We try to do these things where we try not to be like attacking. Like you need to be more, or you need to do this, it’s always going to be a week, we got to figure this out, what should we do, encircle this, highlight it.

And I think if you approach that from a very mature standpoint, and you’re very intentional and very committed, if you just operate under that umbrella of just being committed, I think the stuff that we’re talking about just kind of makes sense. And it just kind of naturally flows. I mean, it’s Rachel, I don’t want her to do bad. I want her to do well, just for her, I’m just committed to her, whatever that’s going up or down or side to side or whatever the case may be. And that’s a concept that we kind of drill down in the book, just make sure that you’re committed to just the overall process.

If you keep that in mind, I honestly think a lot of things just fall into place.

Lisa: It’s an essential mindset. That is awesome. If you’re holding that in your head everything is easier. All right. So moving into the third trimester experience, what would you guys say? Are those crucial conversations or, or growth moments that couples can have with each other in this leg of the journey, so to speak?

Rachel: So third trimester, I would say that that’s the doing trimester. So more tactical.

Anthony: Execution.

Rachel: Whereas trimester two is strategy, the third trimester, it’s all about tactical. It’s okay are we physically ready at this point? And what do we need to do to get physically ready? Because the second trimester should have prepared you. So first and second trimester should have prepared you emotionally mentally, like you should be good. Or at least have that foundation.

The third trimester is like, physically what needs to happen. Do we have a room? Where’s the baby going to sleep? Do we have clothes? Are we throwing a baby shower? Are we going on a baby move? Are we gonna get hand-me-downs or what? You know it starts to move very much into the doing phase, which I think is really important.

And it kind of shifts in terms of- also at the third trimester, the pregnant person is also going to be heavier and may be able to do less. So again, now, a little bit of physical imbalance too, whereas maybe I had more energy in the second trimester, I could do more. Right now third trimester and waddling around. I can’t reach my shoes or tie them. It’s definitely more physical in the third trimester.

Anthony: And now you’re needed more now in this trimester than you did first and physically. So back to those deposits that we were talking about. What if you read this book from the very beginning? And you are like, “Okay, what things can I do by myself?” And let’s say you just kind of were very independent in your first trimester, and your support partner was okay with you doing the things that you’re doing and he has this level of energy he thinks because he’s solving a problem, because he’s giving you what you need, you’re performing like you need.

And then the third trimester comes on and it just physically hits you that things are just like, much different now. How do you think that that makes me operate now like, hey, you’ve been doing very well, these last couple of trimesters. And now this one, you absolutely need me. And now I can associate that need with a physical, but like you physically are waddling, you physically can’t do something. And now I’m able to tap into that. And now it’s go time, as we say, in the book, it’s gaining, it’s gaining time.

So keeping that in mind, and using these tactics and strategies that we have in the book, I think it definitely helps you just close the gap, on the close the communication gap for your relationship. And I think that’s the whole point of the book, not to necessarily have you achieve something, but to change your perspective, give you a little bit different thoughts. And then just close that communication gap a little bit and realize that the tactics and the strategies that we go over here during this.

Lisa: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, how many great opportunities to really be having tactical conversations around who’s doing what in terms of division of labor, shared responsibilities, versus this is what I’m in charge of, and that there’s what the Anthony you’re talking about, like, and I think it was probably different for you, specifically, just because of, it seems like your value system and the kind of person that you are, that you are oriented towards doing things and taking care of people and solving problems anyway, but it kind of like solidified that maybe.

But I’m also thinking that in other relationships it sounds like this was not the case in yours. And unfortunately, in many, I think there’s still this socialization gap between men and women, where women are doing a lot of the labor, the housework, the emotional labor of things like taking care of all this stuff.

And to get to a place in pregnancy, where they literally cannot do a lot of the things that they usually did before. That turns into a real growth moment for a couple where men are really kind of challenged to step up and perhaps start doing some of the things that they didn’t before, not not so much in your relationship.

But this is the transformational process. In that third is like this transferring of some responsibility, the day to day doing of the things that is going to be absolutely necessary once there is an actual baby in the picture. So it’s like this, this practice run, we’re having a scrimmage, like getting ready for it. Is that how you would describe this? The stage?

Rachel: I think, I think that’s actually perfect. And I would say, even before the baby actually gets here, because one of the I would say most important parts of the third trimester that we discussed in our book is birth plans and advocacy. Delivery. Before the child was here, and now you’re taking care of them and there may be this imbalance of who needs to do what. When you’re in the delivery room it’s a massive imbalance. Depending on what my condition is, I may not even be able to speak for myself, who knows.

But there may be an instance where you have one your partner, your support partner has 100% of the responsibility and ownership of making sure that that delivery goes well that they’re gonna be able to advocate on your behalf that they’re able to follow out the birth plan that you all discussed, aligned on and agreed on if for whatever reason, the pregnant person cannot.

So I would say that’s like the first piece that you’re really preparing for that scrimmage is for the delivery. Right, then the parenting part. But that birth and advocacy is just so highly important. We really can’t stress enough in terms of the support partners role in that is extremely vital.

Anthony: Yes. And I talk about ownership a lot in the book, I think like commitment and ownership, those come and go together. And this is my experience and this is the experience that I’m gonna have and then when you get into a situation like in a labor room, me I’m making sure more so with a second child because I got a lot more, a lot more educated.

Now I’m making sure everything is going well. I’m asking a thousand questions, and I’m saying, hey, what is that person doing here, what is that person’s role? We said we’re gonna do the shot, what kind of shot is that, but why?

Because I want to show ownership and I’m so in these, back to the emo deposits. This isn’t new, this isn’t coming out of anywhere. During the doctor’s appointments, I’m saying, hey, this is what I think, even if I don’t necessarily know everything at the moment, I’m just asking the silly questions or asking the things that make her comfortable, make her know that, hey, I’m in charge of this, I’m owning this entire process.

We get into the gametime, the labor room, and the hard emotions get super high or something goes wrong. But one thing, hopefully, that she’s not worried about, is like, who’s backing me, who’s riding for me here. That’s what those deposits come into, like when it’s really time. And what I’m going to show up, and I want to make sure that everything to the best of my ability, I want to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. So that’s the home run for that trimester there.

Lisa: And you’re saying that taking that ownership, going to the appointments, making sure that you kind of understand what’s going on every step of the way, but then going into labor, and I feel we should talk about this. I mean the childbirth experience.

Even you know, it goes fine most of the time, and it can be a life or death experience. You’re a black couple, we also know that for black women, the mortality rates in pregnancy, and regrettable things that can happen during the birth experience can be different. And there is a real need for protection for advocacy, because of these systemic issues that create risks that are very real. Is that part of what we’re talking about here? 

Rachel: Oh absolutely. We talk about it, a whole section on advocacy, we have an organization that we work with sometimes that is specifically about black maternal health. So that’s absolutely what we’re talking about here.

Us obviously, being a black couple that’s very close to you know, what we do and what’s important for us, but just advocating in general is important. Because like he mentioned, when I’m in the room, I’m stressed about all the things happening. Am I pushing hard enough? Does the contraction hurt? The thing I don’t want to be stressing about is, is he making sure I’m good outside of what I’m doing physically, that will help keep my stress down.

Stress sometimes can also cause complications as a part of the delivery. So we just want to try to remove as many barriers as possible but also be as educated as possible about what’s going on in that room, what should happen in that room, so he can speak up, he knows when to speak up if something doesn’t look right, if something doesn’t feel right, if I say I don’t feel right, and someone else brushes it off I know that he’s not going to let that go even though someone else they’re supposed to be caring for me may.

Anthony: Look at this perspective here. So I’ve been on this journey for nine months with you. We’ve had a conversation. And you told me the things that you can kind of do for yourself and the things that I can help with.

First trimester I’m helping where I can. And we’re talking and we’re coaching through. Second trimester and being a little bit more involved, having a little bit more ownership, and I’m making these deposits, and letting you know, hey, I know what’s going on. This is how I’m going to act. This is how I act when your stress is high, or when all these situations are going on.

And then the third trimester when it’s actually time for delivery. Like nothing is new. We’ve practiced now from one two to three. Now in the situation where let’s say you didn’t have this book or the perspective that we offer here, and you did none of these things. And then it came time for delivery. And now you’re, “Hey, what is this? What does that mean? What does that mean?”

Now that looks like panic. Now it doesn’t look like you’re in control. And what you’re naturally wanting to do, you naturally want to be like, okay, “Hey, I’m angry. I want to make sure everything is going right.” And that is likely the truth. But how it’s coming across to your partner is likely panic, like just you know, throw your hands up, just kind of outrageousness.

But if you’re setting that stage from the very beginning, this is how I do things. This is how I take ownership. It relieves their mind or her mind just 100% and that’s what we’re striving towards all of these practices, all of these things.

You get into these very high stress situations, you can rely on those emotional deposits that you’ve been making for nine months, think of how long it takes to make a habit, you keep doing the same things over and over and over, you create this habit of it, there’s no way that when you get into this game time decision that your partner isn’t going to be relying on you. And she isn’t going to know that you’re there, because you’ve invested all the time for nine months. So there’s no way they cannot happen.

And that’s what I like to stress. That’s why I stress these emotional deposits, because that’s the highlight of the book, in my opinion, and you’re reading that portion of it, that’s the portion that you should probably take along with keeping that commitment, being committed, making the emotional, physical deposits, because those are the things that just last for a really long time.

Lisa: Oh, yeah, and just creating this level of unity, oh you guys are amazing at creating this level of unity through all this work all the way along. And then going into the birth situation as a unit. And it’s like, each of you have roles and responsibilities.

I think that so much of the time where we conceptualize this as like it’s, it’s the pregnant lady show, and like it’s all about her and her problem, she’s having a baby and, and this guy is kind of like dangling over here, like some weird appendage, like what do I do with my hands!

But you’re, you’re saying it, and then you like, really going into this with so much intention and, and like with a very real intention of me showing up and being an active engaged part of this process is taking ownership of that, but also she needs me like my advocacy and me being here to like monitor things and going into a potentially very unsafe situation could save her life. And that awareness, I think is fundamentally true for every couple, but I don’t think that people often think of it in the way that you’re talking about today. They should be.

We were going to outsource that to a doula as opposed to like my partner and not that doulas aren’t great. We could do that too. But like, the doula doesn’t love you.

Anthony: Yeah, there’s these different situations. I mean, you didn’t have a strong advocacy when it comes to like your partner. It is your partner. So who’s gonna be there more than your partner and so that’s just, got to continue to make those deposits so you can get ready for that third trimester game time.

Lisa: Well, I could talk to you guys all day and you guys are great. And I know, I’ve had you here for a while. Can we talk very briefly about the growth experiences that are available to us in our marriages or relationships in that newborn stage and your final words of advice and then I’ll then I’ll let you go, with regret.

Anthony: That’s straight just like tactical teamwork. Like literally, like throwing a bottle over here you catch it I have a bourbon towel over here. I’m gonna run over here and grab this and clean this out real fast you’re doing it that’s just straight just teamwork. Like a sport. Like we had, how did we do our, when you were sleeping? Like you would wake up?

Rachel: So I ended up having two C sections. So a C section for both. So you know, especially in that first week right when you’re healing right the whole just up and down up and down up and down. It’s just you know, it’s difficult and you’re not supposed to do it right that often. So we came up with this strategy that for nighttime feedings — well most feedings — it was okay if the baby wakes up, he goes gets the baby, changes the diaper, wraps them back up, brings me, I’ll feed them, he’ll take them back you know reswaddle them, get them back down and lay them back down.

That was kind of our thing you know for the newborn stage for both babies and you know, I mean, you get minimal sleep anyways but look, an extra 30 seconds. I will take it. Every second counts.

Anthony: It is kind of fun when you’re like connecting and trying to figure like all of this stuff out and it’s like okay, babies up. I will get them, put the baby together. Rachel’s sleeping in, those five minutes is like crucial and I can’t wait to get this baby wrapped up, I give them to Rachel. Rachel feed them for 15 minutes, I get 15 minutes of sleep, I grab the baby. It’s just figuring out what works and that is the fun part. Like okay, I’m more of a morning person. Rachel, you know…No.

Rachel: But you know, part of that scenario people think of it very tactically in like you know, it’s helping me get a couple extra minutes of sleep, but also the missed part. A lot of times the support partners may or may not express is just the bonding time. There’s so much bonding time with the mother, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

That also gives him extra bonding time, if now he’s putting him back to sleep. That’s their bonding time versus if I had put him back to sleep. So it’s really kind of looking at every scenario as an opportunity not only to support each other and continue to support each other. But it’s also how do each of us support the newborn and also build a relationship with that newborn that’s not always one sided.

Anthony: We got to try to find what works. And that’s the, I guess that’s the fun part. Like, I like to do this, how about we play to my strengths? What do you like to do? How about we play to your strengths, and if you do that, then that’s how you might get that cohesion and you’re able to do things together, and it’s flawless. And it doesn’t seem like it’s a burden, because you’ve plan to strengths of stuff.

Like I said, I wake up early, I’m okay with it. Rachel likes to go to bed a little bit later. I like to go to bed a little bit early, and that part works out. And then the very beginning stages. I mean, it’s all about the baby and the mom and they need each other.

So now it’s about how can I like get my end to it, go back to that ownership is like, okay, yeah, and I’ll just hold baby here. I’m okay when baby cries for a little while, because we know exactly why they’re crying. Because they want their mama and they want some milk. So it doesn’t deter me from holding the baby, just because the baby is crying, because that’s what babies do.

Lisa: You’re saying this is the fun part. It’s just doing the things and working as a team and each part. So, but the thing that’s coming up for me, as you guys are talking, is that many couples have a very different experience of this stage than the one that you’re describing.

Because what you guys did was very deliberately do the work that allowed you to have this beautiful experience together, when your baby was born. Do you think that because you had been emotionally attuned and responsive and like doing the things you built up so much trust with Rachel?

With a lot of new moms, there can be a lot of resistance to allowing their partner to take the baby and go do the things because they don’t trust them with the baby. Because they haven’t had great experiences themselves with their their partner in terms of emotional attunement, being responsive, and I’m going to hand this vulnerable baby that’s crying to you, and expect that you’re going to be emotionally responsive and nurturing to this infant when I didn’t experience that with you for nine months. That is very real.

There can be so many things. If couples are doing the work leading up to this now we have the baby in the house and the woman is up and doing the things and again, I don’t want to over genderize this. But like the guy is still sitting in his little video game chair playing Fortnite for four hours, the baby is screaming and is somebody else’s problem is that very male gendered mentality?

Anthony: That’s because they don’t know what the role is. It’s not at fault to them. Because so we’re the problem solvers. So if there is an alternate universe, where Rachel will be like, “Hey I’m just gonna take the baby, I just know, I just got it.” And me being like, “That’s what you want? Okay, you can do that, I’ll support you in that.”

But what I want to get across to the guys is, hey, you can create ownership over this like, okay, you want to take the baby for a little while? Yeah I’ll just take them. Yeah, I’ll just take them here. You get that early, and you just get those reps in, and then that’s how you build up that trust. And when baby is screaming, crying, she can go get her nails done, or go out to eat, or whatever the case may be, without filling that level of anxiety.

Because I created the ownership. I created a new problem for me to solve. That problem is, I need Rachel to be able to trust me in all situations. How do I do that? Maybe I should start taking a baby every second that I can get. And that builds that and that’s the new problem that I’m having to solve. I’m not trying to appease her and get her to be just comfortable like that. I’m trying to get a way for her to understand, hey, this is what I want. This is where I am.

Rachel: I think to your point. That’s the whole premise of the book, right the premise is, you’re using the entire pregnancy journey to build those foundations, build those tools, build that goodwill, that when the baby gets here, it’s just second nature. I mean, the newborn, the newborn stage in the book is one chapter. We could write several books on the newborn stage.

But that’s on purpose. Because the purpose of the book is to focus on the pregnancy journey, so that when you hit the newborn stage, it’s just second nature, like you’re not even thinking now, you’re just doing, because you’ve spent these nine months preparing emotionally, mentally, physically aligning on your morals, your values doing the practice of you’re at 70, I’m at 30, we’re 50-50. It’s 100, zero.

Going through those ebb and flows, like, you’ve got all that down. And now it’s just, oh, we’ve done this, we do this. This is just another day of us doing all the things that we’ve been building over these last nine months.

Anthony: I will say it’s fun for me. Now, I’m not gonna say it’s probably fun for everybody. I know, Rachel, it was still an adjustment period. But it was still fun for me. I’m like, oh, let’s do this. I’ll do this. You do that. But that’s probably me being optimistic.

Lisa:  Okay, two last questions that I’ll let you go. Any last words of advice for a couple or you know, a person who is now in the newborn stage, and who did not get any of these memos until after the baby showed up. And now it is an official crap show, they just walked off the edge of a cliff, it is totally out of balance, trust has been broken.

She’s ready to go move back in with her parents so somebody can help her with a baby. The guy’s feeling totally overwhelmed and has no idea what to do, doesn’t even know why people are mad at him. Any advice for people in this situation? 

Rachel: I mean, honestly, it starts with a discussion, like you both need to come to the table, open and willing. It’s got to be open and willing. So that is to hear and to try to understand each perspective without being judgmental. Like, it’s obviously not a real conversation. That’s the basis of all of this, is the foundation of being able to have real conversations. And that is something that takes practice. So the first conversation will be tough.

Anthony: I agree with that.

Lisa: And I will just interject just to listeners, like if you literally cannot have that conversation without it turning into somebody shutting down, or it’s getting elevated, please come to a marriage counselor at that moment, because that is what we do, is hold that door open and help you have those productive conversations. If you can’t talk, you can’t move this. Sorry, I just wanted to say that, but continue so that conversation is crucial.

Anthony: Yeah, and I like to start things off, like, hey, I know this is different, and acknowledge the differences and things, hey, this is new to me, it’s new to you, let’s just try to figure it out. I go back, because the concept is the same. If you just agree on being committed to the process for each other, and want each other’s well being to be good. And I think that it’s only totally up from there.

First conversation is going to be a little rough, second conversation may be a little less rough, maybe even a little bit more rough. But the more conversations you have, the easier it gets, because you start to understand the person that you’re talking to, and it’s like, when I met Rachel I was 100%, like myself, I said hey, this is what you’re gonna get. Alright, so you can either kind of take it or leave it. So being upfront faster. And kind of knowing the things that you kind of want to say and knowing that faster, will help simply because it sets the stage for a very, very long time. I told Rachel hey, I’m going to be just like this. This is it.

And I think couples that do that, that start those conversations off and have those type of conversations and you can only get to know each other a little bit better. And make very small tweaks as you keep going in a relationship just helps you close that communication gap a little bit.

Rachel: I honestly think the biggest thing, and this is not just in pregnancy, but you know, in marriages, you’re not committing to this person that you met today. You are committing to being with the evolution of this person, because every phase, every scenario, every change in life, causes changes to people and you will continuously evolve and change and as a person I think you said it earlier.

You know, when you become pregnant, you become a parent, you’re a totally different person than you were before. You’re never the same, and your partner will have to accept that. My partner will go through changes, will become a different person at some points or things may change than what I’m used to. And I have to be committed to learning those changes, accepting those changes.

And also knowing that I may go through changes, and then that means that he will do the same for me. So for me, it’s about accepting the fact that this is an evolution and not a stagnant point in time.

Lisa: Such great advice. What an amazing conversation. And I’m just so appreciative of your work. Because, I mean, this is truly transformational work that you guys are doing, it will change not just lives, but families. I mean, I think because of your work, children will be born into marriages and families that are stable and emotionally safe and solid and supportive with two people who love each other, and who have this, like emotional maturity and this ability to provide a really nice life for a child.

As opposed to people who don’t have access to the information and the perspective that you’re providing struggle and really sometimes don’t know why they don’t know how to fix it. And it results in broken marriages and broken families, to the detriment of the children that they bring into the world. And so I’m just so grateful for the work that you’re doing. The legacy will extend for generations beyond ours. So

Anthony: Thank you, thank you very much for having us over today.

Lisa: This was great. It was a true pleasure. So tell tell our listeners where they can learn more about you and your work and get your book?

Anthony: Well we do share a lot of our life and our family on social media. So if you go to Instagram @dad_vlog, we have an awesome community of people there that have the same perspective that I kind of have. I share a lot of that. I share my experiences with each one of my members of the family here that I created. My relationship with Rachel, Taj, and Aaliyah, and they’re all very dynamic.

And I do that on purpose so you can kind of see that everything’s kind of up and down. But The Dad Vlog on YouTube, and Dad Vlog on TikTok, we don’t do any dances. But we are there. We have created this company called Create Dope Humans. And it’s called online and they steer towards making sure that you give everything that you have to the people that are around you in order to make them better. Doper we say, so when you create dope humans, you just die in the end, you give everything that you have, we have a clothing line that represents that and it’s createdopehumans.com, and Create Dope Humans on Instagram.

Rachel: And then our book, of course, that we kind of talked throughout the interview about is The Couple’s Pregnancy Guide, which is you know, Amazon Barnes and Noble is basically everywhere books are sold, you can find it.

Lisa: Okay, that’s awesome. So your book and then social media, and I’m gonna come hang out with you guys on social media. I’m trying to get into the social media pool and I’m extremely awkward. I’m gonna find you on social media and yeah. I’m a card-carrying Gen-X’er, I don’t want to do any of that stuff. Well, it’s so good talking with you guys today and keep in touch with me. Let me know what else you guys have coming down the pipeline and we’ll talk about it on another episode sometime.

Rachel: Absolutely. Thank you so much.


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