Sarah didn’t get the chicken pox. (Exhale . . .) Of course she didn’t. She’s a genetic freak, thank God. It was a huge relief; I’ve always been a worrier. Everyone is quick to tell me that I don’t know what true worrying is because I’ve never faced any real adversity, that I’m nothing but a minor leaguer who has never seen a big-league curveball. To which I say, some of the pitchers in Triple-A make it to the majors, too.
OK. No more baseball metaphors.
The morning after our shopping spree in Indiana, lo and behold, Sarah woke up with a belly.
“It really happened overnight,” she said, and excitedly showed me the red marks that circled her midsection like Harry Potter’s Voldemorted forehead. “Maybe Babu was waiting until I had clothes to wear.” She inspected her belly button in the mirror as though it were someone else’s and counted the stretch marks proudly. She looked kind of scary, but she was so happy, and I understood why: she finally had physical proof that she could point to.
There’s something called a “belly gallery” that I’ve been looking at (and feeling vaguely creepy about) lately. Pregnant women submit pictures of their bare tummies, and the gallery organizes them by week. This is a very, very sharp, double-edged sword. The upside: Your wife can see how she compares to other women. The downside: Your wife can see how she compares to other women. As long as your wife is progressing nicely, I suppose it’s a good resource. But when other week-25ers look like they could pop that baby out at any moment, and your wife’s bump is still negligible, that’s not good. (Sarah never once sought this site out, by the way. Just her weirdo husband.)
The bulge couldn’t have come at a better time, because Sarah’s mood swings are starting to scare the shit out of me. A few nights ago, we were kidding around about how neither of us was doing much laundry or dishes or cleaning or anything else—again—and we were both laughing about it, and then, almost imperceptibly, something changed in her eyes. Even though she was still laughing, I could tell she wasn’t laughing with me anymore.
“We’re still kidding around, aren’t we?” I asked.
“No, we’re not,” she said, as her laughter crescendoed into hysterical weeping. I was stunned. Between sobs she told me that she felt like a lousy housekeeper and she needed more help from me and her job was making her crazy and everything was falling apart right before her eyes and, god, she was so stressed out.
Remember back in week 18, during the Popcorn Tirade, when I walked away and let Sarah cry herself out? This time I opted for plan B, the Do Anything And Everything To Get Her To Stop approach. This usually involves making promises you’re going to regret later, like:
“Honey I’ll clean the basement and do the dishes and call the guy about fixing the floor and, look, here, I’m taking out the trash right now, everything’s OK! I love you, sweetie.”
A few minutes later, her crying jag is ancient history, and I’m doing the dishes. And we’re back to joking around: her, with the unmitigated joy that only a pregnant woman can experience—and me, with pure fear.