Almost four months into this thing and I am beginning to form the opinion that pregnancy, like most other things in life, comes with its pros and cons. There are some aspects of this state that provide me with a carte blanche to get away with quite a lot, and I have no reservations in milking the situation to its full advantage. For example:
- A husband very naturally becomes the equivalent of a personal slave. I cannot stress enough how quickly one can get used to ordering a husband around from the comforts of a sunken couch.
- I can stop sucking in my tummy.
- I am expected to indulge in a cheeseburger every now and then. Same goes for ice cream, a legitimate source of calcium.
- I can avoid eating things that I don't want to eat by pretending they smell strange or cause nausea.
- I am expected to sleep as much as is humanly possible.
- Spending the entire day on the couch never results in any residual feelings of guilt.
- When I dream that I rearranged the furniture in our bedroom, then wake up at 7am demanding that Mr T wake up, get out of bed and make that dream a reality, I get away with it, no questions asked.
- Whenever I act crazy, Mr T finally has something legitimate to point to: pregnancy hormones. (Which is a little annoying when I raise what are legitimate concerns for me, such as: "What are we going to do when our child wants to go to parties and there are drugs there," or "what if he or she gets accepted into an expensive college and we can't afford the tuition fees?" and he dismisses them as hormones.)
Unbeknown to me, he has been doing his own reading and his own research on the internet, gathering as much information on the psyche of a pregnant woman as he can. The reason I know this is because every second sentence, he nods at something I say or do or demand and announces: "Yup, I've read about this, this is totally normal in pregnancy." This allows him to dismiss my panicked concerns and attribute them to some sort of temporary change in character. The truth, however, is that I worry. I worry all the time. I worry about the more immediate hurdles, like surviving labour (if he tells me one more time that there are six billion people on this planet and at least millions of them were all able to do it and I'll be fine, I'm going to ban him from the delivery room). I'm worried about changing nappies. I'm worried about dropping the baby. I'm worried about those two soft spots on a baby's skull. I'm worried I'll dislocate its shoulder when wrestling it into clothes. I'm worried about the crying. I'm worried about having to use the blender to make baby food, and I hate using (and washing) the blender.
But I'm also worried about so much more. I'm worried about choosing the right school. I'm worried about what she'll like wearing as a teenager, if she's a girl, and whether or not he'll be athletic and healthy and into sports, if he's a boy. I'm worried our little girl will hate us if we insist she take martial arts classes (Mr T is adamant) and I'm worried our little boy won't be interested in learning a single musical instrument (I'm insistent). I'm worried my daughter will want to marry someone I disapprove of. I'm worried my son will end up with a girl who takes advantage of him.
Mr T doesn't worry like I do, or if he does, he doesn't articulate it, and repeatedly returns to the idea that if six billion people on the planet can do, we can do it, too. He speaks to me in graphs and numbers, giving me a percentage of how much more capable and privileged we are than the average person in the six billion population. It's not really helping. If he would indicate that he is half as worried (OK fine, terrified) as I am, then I wouldn't feel so helpless.
But my husband, who prizes logic above all else, sees no point in worrying about something unfounded and before its time. Instead, I get: "Oh, I read about this. It's totally normal, but don't worry too much, stress is bad for the baby. Why don't you make a list of what's fun about pregnancy, instead?"
Hala Khalaf is the deputy Arts & Life editor at The National