Illustration of baby wearing a shirt that says LOVEIllustration of baby wearing a shirt that says LOVE

How Am I Supposed To Celebrate Valentine's Day in My 3rd Trimester? Are you effing kidding me?

By Lisa McCann

I give birth for the third time next month. It’s another boy. I already have a four-year-old girl and a 21-month-old boy. Life is pure chaos: the kind of addictive love that gives you an aching lower back, a frazzled brain, and a full heart. There are constant demands for cups of milk and snacks and to “Play with me, Mommy.” Little time is left over for me, and an even smaller amount left over for my husband. And then a well-intentioned friend mentions Valentine’s Day plans. I laugh. Yeah, right.

I currently sit here, finding myself larger than life, resentful, and unwilling to move my ever-growing bump off the couch – it won’t budge. This baby kicks and moves and hiccups and kicks again. At night, I surround myself with the largest pregnancy pillow I can find online. I am hit by sudden dramatic bouts of exhaustion and moodiness, where no one escapes my wrath. I move slowly, as though possessed by my 97-year-old grandmother, who, presently, walks faster than me. People tell me to enjoy this time. I can’t accept this. Or them.

The romance of our daily lives includes snippets of conversation about films we want to watch, shows (one) that we watch together in the evening, breakfast accompanied by music we love, brief hugs to show support, kisses if we remember and aren’t covered in Weetabix or resentment (me). The evenings bring respite from the daily chaos, but sometimes we are too tired to spend them side by side. We go our separate ways to wind down. Sometimes you just need to be alone. But where does that leave us?

Our love may not be the same as it was, but neither are we – since having children, we have changed in many ways. We are learning, fighting, and making up – we are trying to understand their many emotions and desires and discipline them accordingly. Our different parenting styles can lead to conflict – we are different people with different upbringings. Our love for them threatens to eclipse our love for each other. We are so busy speaking to them that we don’t speak to each other. On those days, we barely cover logistics, food, and our never-ending to-do list.

My daughter’s Montessori is reframing Valentine’s Day as a day “celebrating love of all kinds.” Despite thinking that Valentine’s Day places unnecessary pressure on people who are not in relationships and on couples to be perfect, I have decided to look at it differently this year. I intend to use it as a reminder to my husband and me to value each other and our love. The romance may be harder to find since having children, but we need to remember each other and how we built this family from our own magical moments. We need to celebrate us, apart from them.

So we have booked a night away for Valentine’s Day (but not on Valentine’s Day) to just be us.