When a couple is expecting their first baby, it doesn’t matter that pregnancy and childbirth have happened billions of times before to other people – what matters is that it’s their first time. Just ask Jill (Duggar) Dillard and her husband, Derick.
They’re expecting their first baby, a boy, in March.
Fans of the popular show have watched Jill, 23, grow up for the past ten years on her family’s reality show “19 Kids & Counting.” Jill and Derick’s wedding episode was the series’ most-watched at 4.4 million viewers, and the night’s No. 1 show on cable.
Needless to say, Jill – who is studying to be a midwife – knows a lot about pregnancy and babies. But mostly, she’s your typical first-time mom. She and Derick, 25, are experiencing the joys and fears most couples do after learning they’re going to have a baby.
Dr. Greg Smalley, the vice president of Focus’ Family Ministries department, and his wife, Erin, recently talked with Jill and Derick about their pregnancy experiences as part of the launch of Focus’ newest book, “Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood.”
The impact a baby has on a marriage is an often overlooked consideration by most resources available to couples today. While it’s good and needed for pregnant moms to keep track of what’s going on physically, the marriage relationship – and dad – are sometimes put on the backburner. Unfortunately, this tendency weakens the marriage, which is the foundation of the new family.
One way the young couple is working to keep their marriage strong during the pregnancy is by walking together. It’s a form of exercise, to be sure, but it’s also dedicated couple time. This practice is helping to keep their communication open and flowing, something she calls “a key thing” during this life season.
“Sometimes it’s not always easy to talk about, ‘Oh, yeah, this is how I’m feeling,’ but you really want to be open and honest,” says Jill. “Derick’s been really good about communicating.”
One area the couple is communicating about is their fears about their new roles as mom and dad.
Derick notes it’s a good thing “you have nine months to prepare” and Jill’s mind is on that deadline, too: “One of the first things I told Derick when we found out we were expecting was, ‘Oh my goodness! This means that in a few months I have to push!’”
The couple has plenty of ideas of how husbands and wives can help each other through a first-time pregnancy. Jill is mindful to make sure her midwife is explaining things to Derick so he feels included in the process.
Derick points out how Jill’s encouragement to him during this time has been helpful to him as he adjusts to his new roles of husband and expectant dad. He explains how a little gratitude goes a long way: “She texts me at work and will say, ‘I’m so proud of you, Honey. Thank you for working for our family. That really encourages a dad. It really builds you up.’”
You can watch the Smalleys’ complete interview with Jill and Derick Dillard on Focus’ YouTube channel. I’m including a segment of their interview below.
Today’s broadcast is also devoted to the important topic of gearing up for a new baby together as a couple. It features guests Greg and Erin Smalley and “Expectant Parent” author Suzanne Gosselin. Many of you will recognize Suzanne from her writing on the Boundless blog, where she’s regularly shared her story from singleness to marriage to motherhood.