Pregnancy is not a disease
There are things better not said. Even if you think pregnancy is not a disease, you do not say it to a woman in advanced pregnancy. It’d be like me being honest answering “massively,” when she asks if she has gained any weight recently.
I’ve been lying in bed for three days now, my nose dripping like a bad faucet and I’m through the third roll of tissue paper and all Breaking Bad‘s episodes. I’m hungry. “Hey, babe, what’s to eat?” I cry out but there’s no response from the western wing of the house. So I yell, “Baby!”
My pregnant babe is now standing at the door, a bit annoyed, I must admit. Then the Tel Aviv area phonebook flies right at me and lands in my lap. “I’ve had it. I’m not your maid! Call a takeaway.”
Why is she so upset? I think I’ve been relatively considerate this past hour, asking only for tea, also for a blanket, tissue paper, a toast with veggies, another toast because the first one was great, a wet towel to remove the stain that the toast left on the sheet, and an orange, for its vitamin C. Of all these requests, I think the last straw was the orange, because I asked her to peel it and arrange it on a plate to look like the sun. I’m sick, you know.
I pick up the phonebook and look at her for the follow up. Nothing. I cough to get her attention, asking if she can please fill a hot bottle for me to warm my feet. “Only if it isn’t too hard for you,” I plead and give her the sweetest look. She is listening but I notice her lips begin to twitch. You don’t need to be a matador to know the look of an angry bull about to spike you frontally. The woman I’d die for is staring at me and I can now understand what people say about angry people and that they smoke from their ears.
“Enough already! I too am tired! I too want to rest. I’m pregnant, in case you don’t know.” She is fuming, and I wipe my nose loudly with a crescendo and proceed to make the gravest mistake. “I’m sick!” I say triumphantly, “and you are not sick… You are pregnant, and pregnancy is not a disease.”
During my life, I’ve said many stupid things to my babe, but this must be among the top five. Now that she’s red hot with anger, she ignites her afterburners and starts counting all the symptoms she’s feeling in her pregnancy, including changes in body structure, spinal aches, feet aches, heartburns, mood swings, insomnia and more, punctuating each one of them with the adjective RUDE. It sounds like a charge sheet for the condemned. The more symptoms she lists, the deeper I hide under the blanket, wondering whether I should hand her the pillow or save her the trouble and smother myself with it once and for all.
I do remember that in my resume I noted that I am “judicious and intelligent”. Therefore it is still unclear to me why I’ve added fuel to the fire by saying: “Do you have a fever? No. Did the doctor give you medicine? No. Do you have wet coughs? No. So you are NOT sick. I AM sick!”
…Maybe the nine months are the time that it takes a woman to produce a baby and a man to grow up; to understand that change is inevitable and to embrace it, not ignore it.
My babe now stands facing me, not answering. There’s no question I crossed a line and I will pay dearly. An arguing partner is bad; worse yet is a partner who does not join in a duel of blame because she’s planning her revenge. Before I say Tylenol, she grabs my last box of tissue paper and leaves the room, saying: “Let’s see how you do now, big boy!”
It doesn’t matter how much I cry for help, fearing drowning in a pool of my leaky nose, or saying it was just a joke, my babe keeps her right to remain silent at the western wing. I try to get up out of bed but am too dizzy to walk, so I go back to my prone position. I move restlessly in bed.
It’s clear to me that pregnancy to her is a much more complicated and painful experience than flu. Just the tests that she had to take during these nine months hint that physiologically, she’s in a more delicate, and critical, condition than I in my seasonal flu, without even considering the risks of the process and the labor in the end. But in fights as in fights, idiotic things are said without thinking. And although she knows that the combination of me and the medicine I’m taking results in temporary insanity, there was a polar chill coming from the western wing.
I feel I’ve been wrong. There are moments in life where you feel that you’ve let someone down, which is worse than just annoying them. When you let someone down, you show that in certain matters, usually the serious ones, you don’t believe your partner and her sensitivities.
The dumb perception of pregnancy as a nine-month bump at which end a baby pops out is childish; I need to grow up a bit more to understand the full meaning. Maybe the nine months are the time that it takes a woman to produce a baby and a man to grow up; to understand that change is inevitable and to embrace it, not ignore it. To understand that the two of us are in this process together and it’s not just her bearing the child and I’m being her helper. This means that there are things that are better not said. Even if you think that pregnancy is not a disease, you do not say it to a woman in advanced pregnancy. It is boorish. It would be like me saying “yes, massively,” when she asks if she has gained any weight recently, not expecting me to say the truth.
The bell rings and the delivery guy arrives. Guilt has made me even hungrier; I haven’t eaten for an hour. With all the arguing, I’ve forgotten that my body’s fighting bacteria and I need lots and lots of calories. I hear some commotion from the kitchen quarters and the delivery guy leaving. It’s dead quiet in the house and I don’t know where my delivered food is. I need to feed my white blood cells and cytoplasm.
Finally, Babe appears at the door, and she’s holding something that looks like a juicy hamburger, mine. She looks at me, looks at the hamburger and takes a big bite. I’m astounded at the face of what appears like barbaric piracy. “But why? Like this? Why? I’m sick and hungry!” I struggle to get the blanket out of the way, gets more bogged down in dawn. Babe sends a clear signal that I shouldn’t bother. She complements me for choosing such a tasty burger, and smiling broadly, gapes like a hippo and takes another bite. “You may be sick and hungry, my love,” she says, “But I’m eating for two.”