IV – WHEN WE FOUND OUT WE WERE PREGNANT

When we found out we were pregnant, I thought it was time for all the urban legends I’d heard about pregnancy to be proven or not. Like how pregnancy brings on a craving for small green mangoes, grasshoppers out of season, edible clay and roast chicken in the middle of the night, from Namawojjolo on the Jinja-Kampala highway.

I have heard my own roast chicken story. The wife of a friend’s friend informed him one night that she desired roast chicken from the main street of Iganga. Apparently on a previous drive through Iganga, she had sampled the said chicken and so, in the dead of this night she was desirous of a repeat experience. The poor man drove to Iganga in the dead of night (thankfully they live in Jinja). When he recounted the tale to his drinking buddies the next day, they were beside themselves with laughter at his expense, as I probably would be. And then they set him straight. The baby was eight years old before he dared to confess to his wife that after that first time, whenever she sent him for Iganga chicken, he simply drove to his drinking joint, ordered a few drumsticks and had a beer or two. By the time he was done with his drink, the chicken had cooled enough to convince his wife that it had travelled the fifty or so kilometres from Iganga to Jinja.

My wife heard that story with me, so there will be no deceiving her when she sends for chicken. That must be why her desires have taken on a form that can be seen and felt; she had me grow my hair into an Afro because she likes the texture of it. I am blessed with a good head, thanks to some distant Rwandese genes, and being pregnant suddenly turned my wife into a rabid fan. So it was out with the barber and in with the shampoo, comb and extra time in the shower. While she must have enjoyed playing with my curls, I did not relish the abundance of hair, either on my scalp or on my face. The itching of a scalp unaccustomed to the extra weight near drove me mad at night, so convinced was I that I had contracted some form of airborne lice. Thankfully, the whims of a pregnant woman are as transitory as the allegiances of a Kenyan politician so, after a lot of wheedling, bribery and outright bullying I was finally granted leave to take the hair off. So excited were my barber and I at our reunion that he, inadvertently, shaved my hairline back by a centimetre or two.

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IV – WHEN WE FOUND OUT WE WERE PREGNANT

III – THERE WILL BE BODILY FLUIDS

Being pregnant is a wonderful thing to witness up close and personal.

Boy oh boy, you haven’t seen the wonders of the human body until you’ve witnessed a woman’s body adjust to being pregnant. One of the adjustments is that she starts to produce a lot of saliva, and I mean quite a lot. Like a tot glass full, every hour, on the hour. Obviously one cannot swallow all that saliva and even if one tried, it would hurt because of course one’s teeth hurt from all that throwing up you see. So of course, one must find a cup or mug and drain into it. And here is where as a man, you come into the picture. Someone has to empty the puke bucket regularly, scrub it out and present it for re-use immediately, the spittoon must similarly be replaced regularly and presented with a glass of fresh, cold water to aid in the washing out of one’s mouth; here’s a useful tip, if you swallow a bit of water prior to or even during a pause in the throwing up, it will immensely aid the act of throwing up. Less bile comes up you see.

The other thing you must become proficient at is reading facial tics, moans, whimpers, groans and stretches. One kind of bodily stretch might mean she wishes to have the pillow readjusted or have the blanket turned down, another might mean that you need to close the window to shut out the growling of the dogs in the garden. Also, you must, I cannot emphasise this enough, develop doglike hearing for the times when you’re in the kitchen doing the washing up (another unmentioned task, of many, that will fall to you) and she whispers your name from the bedroom because she feels a heave coming on and it helps when you rub her back as she throws up. That stuff in the movies where the guy holds the lady’s hair back as she upchucks into the bathroom sink, yep, been there, done that, won the t-shirt. At some point, I started to get all antsy because my baby is in pain and nothing I’m doing seems to be helping. That sensation of helplessness Is. Not. Nice.

All of that, and I do mean, all of that paled into insignificance the first day, about four days ago, when she reached for my hand and placed it to the side of her lower belly … and I felt a pulse … boy, was that an aha moment!

III – THERE WILL BE BODILY FLUIDS