x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

The ups and downs of married life's biggest adventure yet

I found out I was pregnant in mid-January, on a chilly Tuesday night and after trying out four home pregnancy tests to double check, triple check, and then check just one more time.

I found out I was pregnant in mid-January, on a chilly Tuesday night and after trying out four home pregnancy tests to double check, triple check, and then check just one more time. Considering that it has taken me three months to own up to the fact that, yes, something is growing in my belly other than last night’s double cheeseburger, it would be accurate to say that the news has taken a while to sink in for me.

For Mr T, it took less than an hour for him to wrap his head around this latest development in our marriage.

At first, he was very careful in how he would approach the pregnancy tests, lined up in precision right by the bathroom sink, as if disturbing them with any sudden movements would prompt the evidence to disappear in a dramatic puff of smoke. Leaving a good half-metre between his body and the edge of the bathroom, he’d lean over in an awkward 90-degree pose to catch a glimpse of the little pink plus sign, with his hands firmly clasped behind his back. Then he’d look at me and every once in a while say, “OK, OK, this is good, but give me a minute.”

Laughing at my husband’s reaction allowed me to postpone figuring out my own feelings, which teetered dangerously close to the edge of hysteria.

There are times in life when it is difficult to pinpoint whether you are ecstatically thrilled, or paralysed with terror. Finding out that you will be responsible for another human being is definitely one of those times.

Mr T recovered a lot faster than I did. Barely two hours into our new state of “parents-to-be”, he had a mini freak-out when I bent down to pick something up off the floor. The next day, he stumbled into the house, weighed down with a box of some 20 or 30 oranges. “You need fresh orange juice,” he announced. “I read that you have to have a glass every day.”

For someone who hates pulp, this is not good news, and the more pregnant I became, the more I realised that the whole experience was riddled with bad news. That glow they speak of that wraps a pregnant woman in its warm embrace? That serenity that is supposed to descend on an expectant mother? That renewed energy that comes during your second trimester? Lies. All lies.

Up until recently, I have been having such a miserable time of it. All the stupid books and pregnancy websites ever go on about is the cravings: you’ll be craving this, you’ll be craving that, you’ll be eating pickles with ice cream and enjoying it. That is absolutely ridiculous. Pregnancy, I have found, is about the fatigue, not the food. And if it is about the food, then it’s mostly about the path that food takes as it comes back out in the form of morning sickness, which is the most ridiculous phrase, if you ask me, because it is not confined to the hours of the morning, not at all. Instead, it likes to strike in the middle of the night, awakening you from a fitful slumber, and catapulting you from the bed straight on to the cold bathroom floor.

Pregnancy is about nosebleeds, an increased production of saliva, strange acne that appears on your neck and jawline, a change in the texture of your hair (not in a good way), an inability to stay awake and then a sudden inability to fall asleep, a desire to drink tomato juice only to bring it up again, and strange muscle cramps in your calves and arms that render you temporarily paralysed.

Suffice to say, I have been too miserable to share my news with all and sundry. I could never talk about the baby without calling it Alien, Parasite, Life-Sucking Force, or some combination of the three. And on the good days when nausea and fatigue were kept at bay, it was easy to forget I was “with child” and put it out of my mind completely.

I couldn’t justify sharing my news when sporting such a mentality. What was the point of telling people if I couldn’t show them I was genuinely thrilled? They would judge me and think me undeserving of this tiny miracle.

And where was Mr T in all this? Making orange juice. Hunting for tomato juice in the middle of the night. Coming home with red and orange sneakers in the most minuscule of sizes, to remind me that the baby did not mean the end of my shoe shopping days.

Mr T, really, is the one who has brought the joy into this pregnancy for me.

Then, a few days ago, something happened. Lying on a hospital bed, listening to the doctor telling me that all is well and staring at an ultrasound screen that meant nothing to me, I spotted a hand. Then a spine. And what looked like ribs. Suddenly, that sound of a rapidly beating heart wasn’t just a strange sound in the room; it was the sound of my little Alien, really living inside of me. Those jerky movements on the screen? Evidence of a hyper little child, exactly what I would have expected of a child of mine. That little outline of a hand? It had a thumb, and that round thing that stood for the head was sucking on that thumb.

Mr T and I, it seems, are about to embark on the craziest adventure yet of this thing called married life, and now that my appetite has decided to make a reappearance, things aren’t so bad at all.

I’m not as terrified as I was of admitting that I love our four-month-old little blob already; it doesn’t feel like such a private secret to confess that I can’t wait to meet him or her, that I’m actually excited, that I don’t mind the trials and tribulations of pregnancy just as long as the result is my little Baby Alien, half me, half Mr T.

Follow Arts & Life on Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and events @LifeNationalUAE