Thursday, August 5, 2010

On Pregnancy

Pregnancy is self-sacrifice in continuum. Continuum because the sacrifices never end and that they blend into each other so gradually and seamlessly that it is impossible to say where one becomes the next...

For the organized women who had actually planned their pregnancies the self-sacrifice starts not only from the time the baby is conceived, but from the time the idea of having one is conceived, when they relinquish vintage wine in favor of pre-natal vitamin horsepills, and if they also happen to be type t personalities, hopefully curtail the white water rafting and bungee jumping escapades, too! For the rest of us, it begins when you find out - when you get a positive reading from the virtually fool-proof, urine-logged pregnancy test, confirming your intuitive suspicions after a delayed period or being hit by the first few waves of nausea at the onset of morning sickness. Oh, morning sickness! Why is it even called that??? That's another one of my favorite misnomers. My morning sickness was definitely not limited to puking in the a.m. - it would have been more apt to call it 24/7 sickness that continued over what seemed like an eternity....

A few years back a couple of friends of ours came down from Florida and we met up at a bar on Mont-Royal. One of the guys decided to play a joke on Kumar by telling him that his wife was pregnant, of course, my gullible and gracious husband totally bought it and went ahead and ordered champagne for all of us. Little did we know that the joke was on him, well, more so on me, little did I know, that that flute of bubbly, effervescent good stuff was going to be my last for a good while, well, ok, that and a mug (or two, did someone just cry lush?) of local draft beer, that I also had that night. Shortly thereafter, I found out that I was pregnant. And of course like I had mentioned at the outset, it wasn't planned and we were actually leaving for Mexico in a few days, and even if we thought of cancelling because we figured I might not be able to enjoy it with my morning sickness, there was no way we could. Besides, we had been looking forward to the trip for months, so we went anyway. Thus, armed with a copy of the Pregnancy Bible - What to Expect when Your Expecting,
and a couple of boxes of saltines, we flew to sunny Mexico. It's when we got there that we realized that choosing a huge resort that sprawled over an area of a about what had to be five square kilometers did not necessarily mean better. Those daily treks to the beach under the relentless Mexican sun, after a grease-laden breakfast left me literally panting like a dog on a hot day. God forbid you realize you forgot the sunblock one quarter of the way left to the beach! It didn't help when my not necessarily evil, but just clueless hubby would torture me by snoring and breathing heavily beside me reeking of tequila one night, then raw onions the next and garlic the next next. Hey, even shopping had completely lost it's appeal. Now you know that something is seriously amiss, when shopping fails to excite me! I added a few more phrases to my Spanish vocabulary like "soy embarazada" since "una cerveza por favor" and "una mas" was totally non-applicable and useless on this vacation. "Soy embarazada" came really handy, I must have repeated that a gazillion times to decline the copious booze the
friendly staff, especially the lady who would go around at night expertly clutching a tequila bottle by its neck with one hand and had what appeared to be an ammo belt that held shooter glasses instead of shells around her waste, would repeatedly offer unawares of my delicate condition. The locals also taught me some home remedies to alleviate my morning sickness symptoms, like to put "sal" on my "lengua" (apparently that helps!) among other remedies and of course some old wive's tales, the first few of the many I was to receive over the next nine months along with a lot of well-meant but totally unsolicited advice, some somewhat logical, others ridiculously absurd. My appetite was all but non-existent and I subsisted on the Premium Plus crackers I had brought from home for the entire week while Kumar continued to gorge on the all you can eat authentique Mexican fare and generously garnish pretty much everything except the flan with the abundantly available (bloody) chopped up onions and wash it all down I might add with the homegrown Corona...

We arrived back in Montreal from my completely sober vaction and I still had to contend with some not necessarily evil but just clueless colleagues who would nurse steaming cups of coffee in their hands in the cramped confines of the office elevator, oblivious to the fact that I would be holding my breath and would be turning green and finally after three storeys, I'd stumble out and make a hasty beeline to the washroom and just short of projectile, throw up. Again, you knew something was terribly amiss, when I spontaneously overcame my heavy Java dependance, and quit cold turkey with absolutely nil external intervention because the stuff was grossing me out. The morning sickness finally subsided a few weeks later, and the difference in how I felt was so marked, that I was beginning to wonder whether the whole thing might have just been imagined. But every time I paid a visit to the loo, the toilet bowl served as some constant pop artsy object reminder that the sickness was, all too real and not just a figment of my (overactive) imagination!!! My appetite soon returned with a vengeance and then I also developed some pretty relatively tame cravings, as compared to the more unusual, and wilder ones that I've heard of, you know, odd combinations of sardines, ice cream and pickles, or achovy paste mixed with Nutella enjoyed by the spoonful. Some cravings could last you the entire duration of a pregnancy and others could be one-time ones, any further desire for such completely obliterated out of your system after being sickened to the point that the mere thought of it is so revolting and makes you gag because, of course, you had scoffed down probably more than you should have in one sitting in recordbreaking time...It's a good thing Kumar was there to answer my beck and call and we did have a convenience store that was indeed conveniently close, but even he couldn't keep up, and a couple of times, I found myself at midnight, in the dead of winter, clad in a hot pink terry bathrobe cinched over my ever burgeoning belly over hideous mismatched flannel, grandma, "mood"-killing pyjamas - the only ones left that actually fit, tucked into Uggs, disheveled hair tied up into a messy ponytail at the McDonald's drive thru, evading eye-contact with the teenage employee and clumsily craning my growing pregnant body as close as I could towards the window, as I would guiltily punch my pin into the Interac thingy and retrieve my prized Big Mac combo ....(to be continued)

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