The worst part about being pregnant wasn’t the mood swings, no. Although James had always known that the woman he married was prone to the most careless of mood swings. One moment she would be all smiles and kisses, skipping all around him and then the next she would squeeze herself in a corner of the bed pouting and when he asked her what was wrong, she would say ‘nothing ‘ in a grouchy voice.
The first time it happened; six weeks after their wedding, he’d shrugged at her answer and walked out of the room to watch the football match. Ten minutes later she’d come into the living room, arms folded with the pout still in place.
“What is it babes?” he’d asked again after she stood there for five minutes without saying a word.
“Nothing, “she said again.
“Then why is your face like that? Why are you standing there like that?”
“Is it not my house? Can’t I stand wherever I want? All you men, always wanting to prove something. You were watching football and I didn’t say anything, now I’m standing on my own and you’re asking me why I’m standing here. What is it eh?”
That was the beginning of a forty-five minute row that James had not seen coming. After a couple of unnecessary fights like that, he learned how to treat his wife when her mood swing kicked in. Shut up. Ignore. Pretend he didn’t notice.
Then love her.
Being pregnant worsened the mood swings, she would ask him to hold her in bed and then when he tried kissing her, she would rear back in indignation and say that all he wanted was sex.
“Can’t you just hold me? Why must it be all about sex with you? “
But sex wasn’t what was on his mind even though he sure as hell needed it. Since she’d entered her second trimester, their sex life had dwindled to the barest minimum.
“Cj’s mum said that she and her husband stopped doing it when she was only six weeks pregnant. She said the woman should not stress herself during pregnancy.”
“Honey, trust me. After all I’m the one carrying the baby. And
remember you are the one who put it inside me.”
He couldn’t argue with that although he knew she was over reacting. But it was their first baby and he didn’t want any mistakes so even though Google told him that sex with his pregnant wife was safe as long as the pregnancy was normal and that the only time to stop sex with his pregnant wife was in the delivery room; he kept the information to himself.
Still that wasn’t the worst part, nor was the fact that Nneka stopped cooking meals regularly. He had come home from
work one day and made a beeline for the kitchen only to find it empty.
He found Nneka lying in bed cradled under a blanket, watching those Mexican soaps that kept her addicted.
“The kitchen is empty baby. No food?” he wasn’t angry ; not yet. There had to be an explanation.
“Oh sweetheart, I was too tired to cook and I didn’t even have appetite. I’m sorry, there’s indomie in the store if you want, you can cook.”
In-do-mie. He rolled the word over in his mind, clenching his fist to keep the anger threatening to tear through him, at bay.
“You could have called me to tell me so I would pick up something on my way home. I’m hungry for Chrissakes!”
“Ah ah baby. I’m sorry now. It didn’t occur to me. You didn’t
even ask if I’ve eaten.”
He turned away then and began taking off his clothes. She was only five months gone and thankfully she wasn’t so large. Was he the first person to have a pregnant wife? Was this what all men faced out there when their wives were heavy?
He had wound up with bread and akara that night.
And still that wasn’t the worst part. The absolute worst part was the constant spitting. Blood of God!
It didn’t matter wherever they were; in the car on their way to a function or something, she would roll down the glass and send some spittle flying. Or if they were in church, she would play with the substance in her mouth for a while then she would take out a wad of tissue paper and pour into it, roll it back and toss into her bag.
That was what got on his nerves, one minute they’d be talking and then the next she’s flinging something out of her mouth.
At night, she slept with a small salad bowl nearby. By morning, it would be full of the white substance.
“Can’t you just…control it?” he asked once when she spit into a flower bed at their friend’s house.
“Just like I can control when my water breaks abi?” she retorted.
Often James wondered if he would be able to go through this again. Babies were gifts from God and all but why did they have to be so much trouble? He felt like it wasn’t just Nneka that was carrying the baby ; he was too, just without the physical evidence.