Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jealousy Not as Effective as Pitocin

My husband Shawn works hard. As a matter of fact, he works as hard or harder than anyone else I know. His job as a news photographer is not only physically demanding, it is emotionally demanding as well. He regularly schleps pounds and pounds of gear from one tragedy to another. If he isn't covering a fatal fire, he has been rushed out to the scene of a rape or child molestation. Seeing all of this day in and out certainly must take its toll. Add to that the fact that news doesn't usually happen between the hours of nine and five and you can see why his schedule is exhausting at best.

All that said, Shawn is great at what he does. Reporters love to work with him because he can make even a story about potholes compelling to watch. He has a very creative eye and I never have any trouble picking out which pieces are his on the evening news. He just seems to be a step ahead of most others in his profession.

So when Shawn won the equivalent of his television station's "Employee of the Year" award, I was thrilled for him. When I found out that his prize for said award, a cruise for two to the Caribbean, fell during my 34th week of pregnancy making me ineligible to go, I was less than thrilled. The cruise line mentioned something about the motion of the ship inducing labor in women in the latter part of their third trimester. Would it really be that bad for little Felicia to be born at sea? Wouldn't that just make her a citizen of the world? There could be worse things, right?

Like making the mistake of bringing up your cruise to your easily agitated, hormone flooded, wife. Poor Shawn is a man stuck between a rock and a hard place if ever there was one. On the one hand, he won a totally free, non-transferable vacation to a warm climate during the last week of a crappy Indiana March. On the other hand, he has committed to live with me for the rest of his life so he knows that upon return, he will still share a residence with me and he knows that these days I am only getting larger.

But I am about to become a mother and mothers are, by definition, the embodiment of selfless love. Mothers know no end to sacrifice. Mothers never think of themselves, only the happiness of their families. By this definition, I am going to be a really shitty mother. And this knowledge, the knowledge of how I should be acting in the face of what is really a pretty trivial sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, has only served to exaggerate my bratty behavior. Not only do I know what a turd I am being, I can't find it in my motherly soul to stop it.

When Shawn first won the trip and we found out I couldn't go, he offered, albeit briefly, to forfeit the vacation. "No," I told him, "You deserve this trip and you won it fair and square. You have to go." And I meant it. But I thought he should take his mother as his guest. When his guest became his best friend and it started looking more like a booze cruise than a chance for my hardworking husband to catch up on reading and sleeping before the baby arrives, my hormone fueled annoyance reached a new level. Pouting and sighing whenever the cruise was mentioned did nothing to further my cause, only leading Shawn to never bring up the topic in my company.

So I convinced myself, as any logical person would, that his five day absence would absolutely, positively, be the time when I would go into labor. The distress of being left on my own would be far greater an induction tool than any pitocin drip. Like Ralphie in The Christmas Story whose parents learn too late that the soap they washed out his mouth with caused his blindness, so too would the unjustness of being left out of a vacation while 8 months pregnant cause me to spiral down the dangerous road of pre-term labor.

But I would bear my cross valiantly--I had played the whole scenario over again and again in my mind--each time becoming a little more stoic in my martyrdom. Shawn would rush home upon receiving a call that my water had broken, tragically, too late to see the birth of his first daughter. She and I would be resting comfortably in the hospital room when he bounded in, sun burnt and wearing a Hawaiian print shirt. He would apologize profusely, awed by what I had done alone and begging for me to tell him how he could make it up to me. Of course, being a good and loving wife, I would insist that giving birth without him had been no biggie and I was just glad he was able to enjoy himself on his cruise. He would again be in awe of what a magnanimous woman he had been fortunate enough to marry and I would be two miracles away from canonization. St. Jillian does have a nice ring to it...

Shawn will be home tomorrow night and I haven't had as much as a Braxton-Hicks contraction all weekend. Looks like insane jealousy and immaturity does not carry quite the threat of induction as I had feared. And, actually, the time without him hasn't been as terrible as I had anticipated. I have been able to feel glad for him and when he has called to tell me about his cruise, I've actually felt some relief that I'm not there with him--I'd be a lousy traveller right now. And, as it stands, I am looking forward to seeing Shawn tomorrow and remembering why I'm so glad to be entering into parenthood with him, and not alone. Someone's got to be the self-less one and we know it's not me!


jeff said...

If a person is born with the gene to accept and stew over guilt, jealousy can be a real bitch. There is nothing more difficult than trying to enjoy a good time when someone else is pissed or jealous about it, from my experience. I've even managed to come back somewhat angry at the person who I percieve to have made me feel guilty about going on my trip.

It's important to spend time together....and apart. Don't be too jealous, Jen might need a partner for a trip to Gulf Shores next fall and you might need a getaway!

Babs said...

Hmmm...all I can say is, sorry Shawn. You married a girl who's a perfect combination of her father and her mother! His sulking martyrdom and my immaturity both played a large part in undermining our flawed relationship. It took us nearly a lifetime to iron out those things and realize that none of it, not one iota, was as enduring or as important as our love and respect for one another. I still feel joy every time I realize that we did, indeed, manage to do it while we both still shared space on earth. Your wife and her brothers, I hope, also will benefit from the positive parts of my love for their father and his for me. Nothing, and no one, is perfect. But you two will be wonderful lifetime lovers, and despite the mistakes visited on you by your four parents, you'll be fabulous as Mommy & Daddy to little Felicia too.

aly said...

I think St. Jillian has a nice ring to it. In my (lol- definitely not humble) opinion, moms earn that distinction.

You're not alone. I would have stewed too. In fact, poor Andy has already had to buy me a nice dinner upon breaking the news that he'll be spending my 31st birthday and mother's day weekend in Chicago w/ the Cubbies.

andy said...

Jealousy and guilt emerge at a young age in kiddos. Is it passed along by parents? I think so. That's the only explanation I can think of for Jeff's reaction to my new doll house furniture, and my tears at his tantrum.

I think I still owe him some diminutive kitchen appliances (harvest gold in color.)