It is, as I write this, a week after the workshop I mentioned in my last post. It’s still June, and I’m still out of school for the summer. This does not, of course, mean that teachers do nothing in the summer. Aside from the aforementioned workshop, we do planning, reading, research, some take or teach summer classes… teachers are busy. The great thing about summer, though, is that unlike during the school year, we don’t usually have to get up ridiculously early in the morning to do these things. Summer’s greatest benefit, in my opinion, is the chance to sleep in.
You lose this chance when your wife wakes up at 6:30 shouting about the pain in her leg.
Since I’m not going to come back to this just yet, I’m going to steal a page from Douglas Adams and spare you the suspense: it was a Charlie Horse — painful, but not really serious. But it falls into a category of phenomena I am becoming more and more familiar with: pregnancy symptoms they don’t show you on TV.
As with a lot of things, like murder investigations and mailing an angry letter to your boss only to later feel regret and break into his office to intercept it, those of us who have never been pregnant have a kind of skewed vision of what it’s like based on popular media. We know about weight gain and back pain, because it’s easy to show that on TV. We know about swollen feet and a compulsion to eat pickles and ice cream, because somewhere along the line these became punchlines. But there are so many things that they don’t mention.
A prime example. The farting. Oh, the farting.
Erin reads all of these before I post them, so please be assured that anything appearing here has met with AND SHE IS A WONDERFUL PERSON THAT YOU ARE LUCKY TO BE MARRIED TO her approval, so she knows I’m sharing this. Guys. Growing a child in your body creates lots and lots of gas. It’s the sheer volume that surprises me, honestly.I just didn’t expect to spend nine months sleeping next to a whoopie cushion. Frankly, I’m surprised that this hasn’t become more well-known, what with the enduring popularity of fart jokes in popular media. I understand why Lucille Ball wasn’t farting up a storm on TV in the 1950s, but times have changed. You’d think it would at least have been the centerpiece of an Adam Sandler movie by now.
On a less comedic note, did you know that many pregnant women develop carpal tunnel syndrome? Erin didn’t know this either, until her hands began alternately aching and going numb with no explanation. And while it’s cute when she looks at me sheepishly and asks me to open her chocolate milk for her, I know it causes her actual pain, so I feel bad for her. We got her some braces for her wrists, which help somewhat, but the only painkiller suggested for pregnant women is Tylenol, which many of you will know better as “That One That Doesn’t Really Work That Well.” It may be a gender stereotype, but I have become the Chief Jar Opener of our household at least until September.
Pregnant women also have much greater sinus congestion, as it turns out. Erin has sounded like she has a cold pretty much non-stop since February, and in the last couple of weeks, she has evidently decided to try to out-snore me. I have a pretty prodigious growl at times, I know, and I’ve always felt guilty when she’s had to wake me up to try to get me to stop. Which is why, most of the time she starts snoring, I just let it go. But when I was away in a hotel for a week for my teaching workshop, I frequently would wake up at night wondering why there no longer appeared to be construction equipment outside the window.
But back to this morning. Erin woke up shouting, and for a moment, I panicked. All I knew was that she was in pain, and that terrified me. The last time she woke me up shouting it turned out she had a kidney stone. This time she had something a lot more important in there, and unlike the kidney stone, it’s something we don’t want coming out just yet. But through the shouting, I managed to figure out the pain was in her leg and it was, in fact, a Charlie Horse. But unlike any such Charlie Horse I’ve ever had, hers apparently just kept coming.
“Do something!” she yelled. I didn’t know what to say. Any time I’ve had a Charlie Horse the only thing I could do was wait it out, but I knew if I said anything like that I was risking a punch in the face. So I did the only thing I could think of: I Googled it.
I found a page that helpfully informed me that pregnant women are at greater risk for Charlie Horses (got it, thanks), and suggested massaging the area. I reached over and touched her leg.
And she yelled at me again. “DON’T TOUCH IT!” were the exact words of my tender, loving wife.
So instead I pulled back and sat there, dumbfounded, while she kept yelling at her leg. After a couple of helpless minutes like this, she said, “I thought you were Googling it!”
“I DID,” I said. “It said to massage the area!”
“Then why didn’t you?”
“BECAUSE YOU YELLED AT ME!”
She was a little calmer now, so she put her leg out and I finally started to rub it. After a minute or two, she admitted it was feeling better. Since then she’s been apologizing to me, not that she really needs to. It was a bad moment, but it wasn’t her fault. I just felt awful because I couldn’t help her faster.
“I’m sorry I woke you up,” she said.
“That’s all right,” I told her.
“You’re going to write about this, aren’t you?”
“Go back to sleep.”
And I lay back down, but I’d already been riled up a little bit, what with the yelling and the panic and all. So going back to sleep, I knew, was something that would take a while. And I was right. In fact, Erin was deeply back into her snoring while I just lay next to her, mentally beginning to compose what you just read.
Remember, guys, pregnancy is a beautiful thing.
You may have heard, Blake and Erin have a baby on the way, so he hopes you’ll allow him to remind you he’s got all these books and short stories for sale on Amazon, and suggest you follow his author’s page on Facebook.