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15 July, 2011
Blunder Yourself Pregnant
Getting pregnant is a big decision. Career-wise there’s never a good time to have kids. Travel-aspiration-wise there’s never a good time to have kids. Financially there’s never a good time to have kids. Even sitting-&-watching-a-film-wise there’s never a good time to have kids. (My wife & I sat down on a Sunday evening to view Apocalypse Now. We finished watching it on the Thursday. I don’t believe Coppola intended it to be punctuated by repeated pausing to trudge upstairs and quell cries. But it did make for a deeper experience. Getting through it was certainly my Vietnam.)
In our late-20s, we smartly avoided this difficult call by getting pregnant accidentally. Not due to a lack of biological education or even heat-of-the-moment passion, just a sizable menstrual-cycle mis-communication.
We’d been living in Australia for a couple of years and, one afternoon, made the decision to travel home to England via a couple of months round North & South America, to then buy a house and to spend a year-or-so catching up with our friends enjoying a splurge of big nights out, before subsequently attempting to conceive. Within about three-quarters-of-an-hour of us making that decision, my wife was gestating.
According to our experience, all the pregnancy literature is broadly right:
-- First trimester, sickness & tiredness
-- Second trimester, more energy, feeling ok-ish
-- Third trimester, heavy, uncomfortable, can’t sleep… really not what you want directly before acquiring a new-born
The biggest surprise during pregnancy was our discovery of the Epi-No. Recommended to us by a nurse friend in Australia, it’s a hand pump attached to a thick rubber balloon, which you – to paraphrase the instruction booklet - push up inside you and inflate to increasingly eye-watering breadths. From my wife’s experience, and those of the pregnant friends she’s subsequently lent it to (having given it a bit of a wipe), it does a good job of avoiding tearing or episiotomy. Sprinters stretch before a race to avoid tearing a hamstring. It stands to reason that ladies benefit from warming-up for child birth, the show-piece event of the Vaginal Olympics.
Overall, there’s certainly no doubt that pregnancy was hard work. (I double-checked with my wife. She agreed.) Especially second time round when any “This is a spellbinding miracle of nature”-novelty is replaced with “Oh. I remember this bit. It was rubbish”-monotony.
But then the end of it brings energising/tiring/inspiring/spirit-crushing/enriching/ degenerating/vasilating changes to your life.
#1: You’re playing with fire if you rely on the rhythm method at the best of times (even just occasionally, for a condomless treat). If you then take the passing comment “I feel like I’m getting my period” to mean “I’m absolutely getting my period. I’ve checked the calendar and everything. Go right ahead and enjoy yourself”, then you deserve the consequences.
#2: It might be cliché, but I did miss sexual intimacy with my wife during the later stages of pregnancy. Funnily enough, frantically pumping up an inserted balloon while she held it in wasn’t the satisfyingly-sensual alternative you might have thought it to be.
#3: Once the idea of the Vaginal Olympics has occurred to you, prepare to have most of your brain’s background processing power inescapably applied to creating puerile names for its events. [synchronised quimming; gashketball; rugby poonion; cross c**try; boxing…]