There's an old midwives saying that describes the three trimesters of pregnancy as "dreary," "cheery," and "weary." I wish. That indicates there's a period between the first trimester (constant illness, relentless mood swings) and the third trimester (when you're huge and exhausted) that feels good.

I didn't experience this glittering promised land of a second trimester. All I got were bouts of moodiness, tender breasts, an overactive bladder, and a fatigue that dragged me into a black hole of sleep almost every night.

Walking around while my body built another body inside of itself and fed that body off my body was unbelievably tiring. I had a bruised rib for six weeks. My heightened sense of smell engaged code-red emergency bouts of oh-my-god-I'm-gonna-barf. Normal digestive habits disappeared, replaced with terrible constipation. The worst case of heartburn I've ever had came from my one true beverage love, coffee, which I had to give up as a result. And I haven't even told you about "morning" (all day) sickness. Short version: dry heaves, yellow bile, heartburn after lunch, gagging nausea, indigestion. Eating for two? I could barely eat for one, since pretty much everything I put in my mouth gave me some sort of negative reaction.

Maybe the worst part, though, at least for my partner, was that it was almost impossible for me to get in a romantic mood. The very healthy sex drive that put me in this baby-carrying state had diminished to such depressing proportions, I had a hard time coming at all, much less feeling sexy to begin with. When you're that ill, romance is the last thing on your mind.

I should point out that experiences vary. Hormones, body changes, life stressors, and other factors hit each woman differently. Still, if your other half is preggos, she is very likely going to endure some pretty unhappy moments. So forget sex, unless she demands it. You might even have to forget romance. For nine months, your job is to focus on creating an environment where she is comfortable and relaxed enough to welcome your touch, in spite of how much discomfort she's in. Not to worry, there's a reward for you at the end.

1. Be gentle, patient, and kind. She's growing a human being, for Christ's sake. Pregnancies are still the sixth leading cause of death for women ages 20 to 34. Just because we have scientific advances doesn't make this whole thing easier; it just makes it easier not to die at the end.

2. Be sympathetic. When she's acting like a crazy person, have compassion. Pregnancy is psychologically exhausting.

3. If she asks for something, get it for her. The more pregnant I got, the harder simple tasks seemed to be. The best thing in my world was food that didn't make me feel sick. Make sure the fridge and cabinets are stocked with goodies she likes. And if she asks for some specific food that isn't in the house, go fetch it. Seriously. Get up and go right now. Want to take her out to eat? Go somewhere that won't overpower her with aromas (ask her what she's in the mood for, but be prepared to change plans at a moment's notice). Also, chocolate is always a good idea.

4. If she's sleeping, leave her alone. She will be sleeping a lot. No matter how much you want to wake her up and share your news you don't think can wait, don't. You want to caress her in the way you know she likes? No. Leave her the hell alone. Don't wake her up for anything other than your building burning down.

5. If she's awake, give her a massage. Or pay someone else to. Anywhere she likes to be rubbed is good.

6. Rub lotion on her belly together. If she doesn't have a belly moisturizing routine yet, get some lotion (Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula is the jam) and start a nightly ritual where you smooth it on together. If she does have a routine, see if she'll tolerate letting you ease into it once or twice a week. It's a nice way to bond as her belly grows and the baby starts moving. It's also a chance for you to make her feel more comfortable in her own expanding skin.

7. Prepare for this to be over. After the baby is born, there is a six-week no-no period when your uterus heals from having a baby ripped out of it (no matter whether it's a vaginal or cesarean birth). After that, your sex life should return to normal. I know mine did. In fact, it might be better than ever—although it's trickier in other ways, because now there's a demanding baby in the picture.