I just read a new study that claims the average pregnancy is not 40 weeks, but rather 41 1/2. Great. I feel like we just got another couple of years tacked on to our life sentence.
Regardless, a healthy woman should gain between 25 and 35 pounds over the course of a pregnancy. A few years back, I saw a woman—let’s call her Sharon—gain roughly 70 pounds. She didn’t look like Sharon; she looked like a person who had eaten Sharon. With a side of fries. She was predictably miserable. Her wedding ring went in a drawer for nine months because her finger was too bloated to accommodate it. I recall the moment she realized she could no longer cross her legs. “Well, shit,” she said, trying to locate her feet for a few seconds. Then she went back to looking miserable.
Where did all the weight come from? The breakdown is usually something like this:
Baby: 7 pounds
Placenta: 1 pound
Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
Bulked-up uterus: 2 pounds
Extra blood volume: 4 pounds
Bigger breast tissue: 2 pounds
Various other retained fluids: 4 pounds
Extra fat stored up: 7 pounds
Those last two were probably the biggies for Sharon. God knows how much fluid rushed out of her when she gave birth, but I heard the nurses were wearing galoshes. And the fat? Within two months, it was a distant memory for Sharon, and she looked terrific. But, needless to say, she did not have another baby.
* * *
Sarah is right on track with the weight gain so far, but her full-body itchy-scratchies have has gotten worse. She was so uncomfortable she dragged me the other day to Whole Foods to buy some kind of super-lotion with flaxseed oil or Chamomile or something. That night, she rubbed it all over her and the complaining stopped. Then she started complaining about how long it took to rub it all over her, and stopped using it.
An even bigger problem at the moment: undergarments. Everything is too tight, and such clothing is not conducive to a happy pregnancy. Under normal circumstances, women’s underwear is usually some frail little piece of cotton so sad and insubstantial that you couldn’t wipe the stove with it. The bras, from what I can tell, never fit right, and as a result are abused, stretched out, and leave red marks all over the place. But I’ve seen maternity underwear before. (Don’t ask). From what I gather, it consists of massive, complicated-looking bras with all kinds of snaps and straps and zippers, and underwear that could shelter entire tribes of Pygmies. The best present Sarah has received thus far (she gave it to herself, but still) is a three-pack of huge maternity underwear from Target. Thanks to these uber-panties, her quality of life down there has skyrocketed. And if I haven’t realized by now that my quality of life is directly tied to her quality of life down there, I don’t deserve a child.
* * *
In Bradley class today, Denyse had all the husbands lay on the floor. “Guys, get in the same position that your wife sleeps in,” she said. “Now, ladies: I want you to give your husbands a full-body massage to show how you want to be massaged tonight.”
As my wife’s rough hands started digging into my calves, it occurred to me that this was the first massage she had ever given me. Within minutes, I prayed it would be the last. Her fingers were like ten cold hard meat tenderizers beating and pinching my defenseless flesh into submission. I thought I was going to throw up. When she was through, I felt like I had aged ten years.
If I massage her tonight like she massaged me on that floor, I don’t know if she, or our marriage, could survive.