It was confided to me around a bon fire like sacred knowledge—words of survival from those who had gone before me. The further along she gets, the more you’ll want to find excuses to keep yourself out of the house. The feminist in me was offended. Here again was the hysterical woman troupe that I had spent so much of my life battling. But the advice didn’t come with laughter; it didn’t feel like part of the old boys’ club. The looks around me were solemn as all of the men nodded their heads and spoke affirmations. Work late. Take up hobbies. Whatever it takes.
I wasn’t convinced. Surely rational thought can eventually supersede emotion and if Katie ever did feel overwhelmed, upset, or just plain emotional, I’d be there to support her and be the voice of reason. Let her have some moments of irrationality; there’s an invader in her womb growing a new vegetable size every week. I was the picture of the perfect partner.
I’m not sure exactly when it started, perhaps the easing into it masked the slowly increasing, illogical accusations. But there I was, sitting on the couch, not talking to anyone, defenseless, when she flew around the corner and spit out “What’s wrong with you?!”
“Me?” my eyes said, surprised, as I looked around and saw I was the only one in the room and, therefore, the only suspect.
“Why are you in such a bad mood?!” She snapped, as I confusedly looked back at her. I was frozen, afraid to speak. This is it. I thought. I got too comfortable and now I’m home for the firestorm. I opened my mouth to defend myself, but caught it, thinking that this wasn’t going to help. Instead, “let’s go to sleep” seemed like my only recourse. It didn’t work perfectly, and she was unhappy with my efforts to dodge her accusation, but this wasn’t about getting out unscathed, it was about damage control.
I’ve heard other women talk about moments when they were pregnant. One laughed as she told me she adamantly demanded that her unborn child be given a particular name, and then, with equal passion, revoked it the following week. The stories all have a similar theme--the women could hear themselves talking, think it was ridiculous, but not be able to stop the flood of emotion pushing them to say it. It seemed like there could be some validity to the hormonal imbalances of lore.
I have been far from perfect, It’s hard to be the person who is the object of the mood swings and I’m not great at being noble and moving on like nothing happened when my feelings are injured. But the thing Katie’s pregnant hormones didn’t see coming were my theatrical ones. When she’s upset and I’m calm, I try to understand and comfort her, but when we’re both “on” at the same time? Well, theater hormones can almost rival pregnant ones.
It’s times like this, that I feel even worse, because now not only are we a pregnant hormone walking stereotype, but we’re two overly emotional women who can’t get it together. I’ve been making more of an effort to pull back and be comforting to let her have her moments. I decided I owe it to her. After all, in three months Katie won’t be pregnant any more, but I’ll still be an artist.