Carolyn Hax: Expecting a baby and dreading spousal input on weight

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are expecting our first baby in February. After shopping around a bit, I finally have a doctor I like and am feeling less anxious about various health issues I’ve had prior to and during this pregnancy.

My husband asks for the details of my appointments, and I find that I instinctively clam up. I don’t want to tell him how much weight I gained or what the doctor recommends about diet or lifestyle. I’m not doing anything “wrong,” I just don’t want to be policed, even lightly. And my husband is not the boss, but he IS a relative health nut.

He feels shut out when I won’t tell him how my appointments went, but I feel a strong sense of privacy around them. Is that weird? Am I allowed to keep OB appointments private from my husband?

Expecting: “Policed”? “Allowed”? What the what. There is no “health” in commenting on a pregnant spouse’s weight gain or diet unsolicited, only “nut.”

And withholding appointment details from your husband may technically be your prerogative, since it is your body and your business, but 1. If there is a policing problem, then withholding only postpones your reckoning with that sickness, and 2. If there is not a policing problem, then you’re shutting your husband out of one of the most thrilling and intimate experiences in life for reasons he might not understand.

Let’s back up for a second. The weigh-in and dietary suggestions are just not the bits from OB appointments that say, “Share me!” at least not to anyone without an unhealthy preoccupation with the mother’s body. (That can include the mom herself, by the way.)

I speak from experience here. Any shared or shareable appointment details were about health and progress and any noted concerns. My weight was between me and my midwife and every beholder’s eyeballs, so anyone who gave a flying Fig Newton about the actual number would have gotten nothing from me except my involuntary slack-jawed what’s-wrong-with-you face.

I’d say anyone noting my food choices took their lives in their hands, too, but it’s all pure speculation because nobody freaking asked. Because, seriously, who does that? If I had serious health issues, then I’d have empowered my people to ask.

So what I want to know — and you need to know, toward your own emotional health — is the source of your reflexive clampdown. Are you flinching from something in your past, or from your present partner? Who got so invasive with your body that trust is no longer an option?

The elephant in this room is not you. It’s the thing you’re reacting to. If it’s your husband, then get that into counseling, just you, stat. If there is history here and your husband’s health consciousness churns it all up, then please explore that in counseling with him.

Either way, and especially if counseling isn’t feasible, discuss it with your obstetrician. Acknowledge it and deal with it, please, because your well-being has already taken a hit, and your child’s will before you know it. Growing up amid parental tensions around food and body image leaves a mark that’s uniquely hard to erase.

Your husband, meanwhile, either needs help he’s not getting for a policing or control problem that will (rightly) cost him his family, or he needs help understanding your history so he can be a better partner in his own inclusion. I am sorry this falls to you. But it matters, and it’s not going away on your due date, so put it on your plate now.

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