I don’t care what your wife does for a living; whether she’s an air force pilot or a circus clown or a homemaker, she’s going to want some extra pampering while she’s pregnant. Guys keep telling me I should do a lot of nice things for her to stay on her good side, which is sound advice, albeit vaguely misogynistic. I look at it like this: Sarah is carrying my child. She is forfeiting significant parts of her body and brain for nine months so we can both be parents, and she deserves a little respect.
At work, Sarah is civil, professional, and a little scary, like a principal should be. She is tough enough to make 160 kids in the toughest neighborhood in Chicago shudder with fear. I’ve seen more than a few fourth-graders come out of her office come out in tears.
But when she gets home, she’s a little girl who needs comfort and reassurance. She puts on overalls and her hair goes into pigtails. She reads Laura Ingalls Wilder in the bathtub and sleeps with the light on, holding on for dear life to a ragged stuffed animal called “Phi Bear.” She needs tenderness as much as the next woman. So I flipped through one of her pregnancy books in search of suggested pampering activities to see how well I was doing so far, and what I could be doing. Here are ten common ones.
- Periodic foot massages: Check.
- Nonstop hugs: Yes.
- Tell her she’s beautiful and you love her: Always have, always will.
- Carry her bags: Always have, always will.
- Clean the house: Nope. I’ll try.
- Tell her you think she’ll be a great mother: Every day.
- Go on walks together: Every night.
- Listen to her complain without complaining back: Um, not so much.
- Make sure she has enough to eat: I forget about this one.
- Drop her off in front and park the car yourself: She drives.
Looks like I’m batting about .600, which is probably sub-DH level, but not bad. And I do enough of these little things that every morning Sarah is able to transform herself into an iron-fisted dictator again, ready squash any child who gives her even the slightest bit of guff. That’s good enough. Though, if her kids saw what I saw, that school would fall apart in less than a month.
Before getting pregnant, Sarah’s dreams were always laughably literal, usually flashbacks or predictions. If she was worried about work, she’d have a stressful dream about work. If she’d just watched a Madonna video, circa “True Blue,” she’d dream about Madonna, circa “True Blue.” If she’d packed herself a sandwich for lunch the next day, she’d dream about the sandwich.
But now, her pregnant dreams are like a Buñuel film on three hits of acid. She’s swimming in a pool filled with green Jell-O. She’s housesitting a talking dog, a rabbit, and a cockatoo. She’s reading Chicago magazine’s next cover story: “Best Ways To Frighten Children.” I can’t wait to wake up and hear what jacked-up fantasies her hormones are causing.
According to my friends at babycenter.com, dreams become more vivid during pregnancy because of increased progesterone and increased awakenings from dream-filled REM sleep. Common variations involve skyscrapers (which represent a woman’s sensitivity to her increasing size); water (awareness of the fluid amassing inside her); driving a truck (general awkwardness and unmaneuverability); and giving birth to a full-grown adult (just plain freaky). Men still dream of sex, of course.
In Sarah’s latest dream, we’re on a plane together, and it’s getting pretty dicey. She has always been sure she would die in a plane crash-so certain that every time we board a plane, she pats the side of it and says a little prayer. In the dream, the turbulence is so drastic that everyone is screaming. Then the pilot comes on the P.A. and says, “I’m sorry, folks. We’re going down. There’s no avoiding it. And I just want to let you know: It’s going to be awful.”
Sarah turns to me in the dream and says, “I love you. And I told you so.”