Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pregnant for 40 years now

We all know that living with a pregnant woman is fun. Or at least, if we think otherwise, we know well enough to keep our damn mouths shut about it.

But it is also somewhat surreal, from the fact that that she has another person in her belly to the fact that she can eat three jars of pickles in one day and never want to touch them again for 32 weeks. Yes, seriously, that was around week eight.

The big changes like the continuous nausea do alter everything about our lives, but we expect them. It's the little things that catch us by surprise, like Mama's sudden craving for flavored potato chips. Cheddar. Barbeque. Sour cream and onion. Whatever, just get another bag if you're going to the store, would you? She's always had a sweet tooth, but never much cared for salty junk food.

And then there's her nose. No, it hasn't changed externally--it's still as cute as a button--but she can now detect a flea's fart in an ice storm. She'll ask, "Do you smell that?" To which I'll respond with something like, "Yes. You can't see him, but there's a guy four cars in front of us, smoking a cigar."

See, the thing is that I've always had a sweet tooth and loved salty junk food, and I've always had a sensitive nose. Mom used to laugh at me for talking to her about the smell of the sage and the creosote plants when I lived in Palm Springs. So, for these 40 weeks, it's great for me, because I don't feel so strange sitting on the couch with my hand in a bag of chips, complaining about the cologne of a man walking his dog on the sidewalk seven floors down.

And all of those chips are giving me something else in common with Mama, although my gut hasn't kicked. Yet.

There is also one big change that's had unanticipated effects: fatigue. As I've probably discussed ad nauseam, Mama is a light sleeper. She has been awakened by cars on the street seven floors below us, Barky's breathing, and moths farting. This makes every night with her like a night with a newborn, less the swaddling.

We run the fan in our central air system for white noise, a fan in our room for more white noise, turn off the phone ringer (sorry if we don't answer your call because we forgot to turn it back on, but who really calls anymore?), turn on the bathroom fan for more white noise, close the window in the living room, close our bedroom door, and of course close all the windows in our room.

It's about as peaceful as sleeping in a wind tunnel.

We both grew up sleeping in equally quiet, if different environments. My house was in the burbs, where I can still hear a pin drop on carpet when we visit, despite all the development of Silicon Valley. Mama's house was surrounded by potato fields and Maine woods on the Canadian border, and it is still blissfully silent when we visit--if you ignore the fan noise in her bedroom. So what gives?

Mama claims that nobody can become a heavier sleeper than they are born being. I think this is a crock, but some battles aren't worth the effort. The battle I can't give up is that I like to sleep with the windows open--provided that it's not sleeting or sweltering outside. I like the fresh air, and the little noises of our hood don't bother me. OK, not even the fire engine pulling out from its station two blocks away bothers me.

But somehow all of that white noise and recycled air sets my teeth on edge. Plus, I don't like the feeling of constantly being in a mild windstorm. It's inescapable and eventually has the same effect on my mood as if someone were running a belt sander on my scalp.

However, while Mama is in her olfactorily heightened, junk food craving state, she could sleep through a buffalo stampede. In fact, during the first trimester, she even felt the same way about the fans that I do, cursing as she marched through the house, switching them all off.

So, for now, Mama and are are in a more perfect union than at any time other than when she was pregnant with 3B. But Mama's only going to be this way for 80 weeks out of her life. I'm like this from here to eternity, plus the balding, the belching and the beer farts. And I never produce an adorable genius.

I know that you're wondering the same thing I am: why did Mama ever marry me? I'm thinking that the month of sangria drinking across Spain clouded her mind, because otherwise Mama's a genius. And for those of you who think living with a pregnant woman is difficult--now you understand why Mama deserves a medal for living with me.

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  1. Funny that. I had a girlfriend who was the same about sleeping in a wind tunnel: fan on, draft constantly blowing, white noise. Me, weather permitting, I'd just as soon have the balcony doors open, lazy breeze teasing the quiet curtain, and hear midnight trains across the harbor rumbling back and forth, blowing long, low blasts at crossings as they collect freight containers from wharfside ships. I find it soothing. Or--as this morning--to wake up and hear fog horns before I even pull back the drapes.

    Glad to hear you're pleasantly in synch.

  2. I remember staying in someone's pad in NYC with the window open (a bit too cold for me) and the firehouse underneath it. I don't so much mind the noises. I now sleep with my window open, year round. Everyone complains that my room is too cold. Good thing I have warm covers.

    I wouldn't know what it is like to live with a pregnant woman. I do however know how important it is to pull off the road at any sign of a McDonalds just to get some fries.

  3. MrJ: Trains are a good sound, as are fog horns.

    KMoo: I recall staying at that same pad, although when I was there, I had to take a cold shower to get my core temperature below 103. To be fair, we had dragged MrJ up to VT for 4th of July weekend, so before we stayed there, the place was closed up for half of one of the hottest weeks of that summer.

    I'm not pulling off at McD's unless they have barbeque potato chips...the big bag.

  4. Once upon a time...I lived on the 7th floor of a building in downtown Dallas. At 2, the club on the same block let out. Around 5 the street sweepers & garbage trucks would start. Around 6, the bus line started. Around 6:30 the real traffic of the city started pouring in.
    I could sleep right through it.
    Hubby my apt. early one morning. Point of all this: he couldn't sleep through any of it. He was waking up with every little street level noise.

    funny what you get used to....

  5. In another lifetime, one of toil and blood, I worked at a hotel in a National Park. I worked at the front desk from 7-4 and on the theater show from about 6-10, then would retire with cast and crew to the pub until after midnight.

    I'd been working this schedule for months when, one morning, sometime after 1 a.m., but before 6 a.m., the fire alarm went off in our dorm.

    The bell was on the wall outside my room, near the ceiling. I slept on the top bunk. The bell was about two feet across and rang so violently that it rattled the wall.

    I slept through that until a bellman in a stupor banged on and yelled through our door. Fortunately there was no fire, just the alarm.

    Funny what fatigue can do to you.

    (But still, for all of that, I was never so tired as when 3B was a newborn.)

  6. Ah - sharing a bed with a pregnant woman who's inner thermostat is set to "Random" and for whom everything smells of JApanese food. And who suddenly hates Japanese food.

    I have to remember this if I'm ever unaccountably broody for a third...

  7. Oh yeah, that's one I forgot to mention--the sleep thermostat. Mama throws the covers off, too hot to sleep under even a sheet, which is also how I tend to be. When she's not pregnant, it's socks, sweatpants, hoodie, personal blanket, down comforter and a small campfire if she could figure out how to do that without burning down the bed.