Deborah Needleman

One thing I’ve noticed about being pregnant is that people who didn’t particularly like me before now seem rather cozy toward me. Before conception, I may have seemed aloof, arrogant, perhaps even intimidating. Now I have been reined in. No longer free and unfettered or full of potential, I am knowable. I will have Cheerios thrown in my face and be home most evenings. The glamour quotient in my life is plunging and they know it.

I have lost my edge.

The worst part is that it’s not just an external fact. The most pronounced symptom of pregnancy, aside from the bovine shape, is stupidity. I am too dull to be threatening to anyone. I have even started to treat myself gently and with benevolent condescension, like someone with a severe learning disability. I meet my own gaze with pride and approbation simply for making it through the day. Yes, I know, hearts and lungs and toenails are being made inside me, and that takes a toll. But I am an idiot. A mollified, pacified, de-fanged, contented fool. Normally anxious and uptight, I have been rendered the “whatever” queen. I am so laid back, I am practically asleep.

Based on my informal survey of one, the reason women agree to having the lights shut out in their heads is the serene state of hormonally induced bliss that accompanies pregnancy. I realize that many women are wildly moody and depressed while pregnant. My unscientific theory about this is that those are women who were even-tempered before and who are not comfortable with the loss of control. To those like me, who never had much of a grip to begin with, and who under normal circumstances are bitchy and irascible, this loss of control (bodily and otherwise) is merely confirmation of what we always feared and suspected. (Also, from the standpoint of evolutionary biology, if moody girls got even moodier when pregnant, our husbands would desert us, and bitchy women would become extinct. A terrible thought.)

Not that having a special-needs wife who is incapable of going to work and picking up a roll of toilet paper from the store in the same day is any picnic. The husband is kept on board by the fact that his wife, babbling though she may be, seems to worship him. She now looks with wonder upon the most annoying ticks of he who has planted the seed. And so he flutters around the nest, receiving the constant praise and adulation, to which he is rather susceptible. I am a Stepford Wife without the household skills.

My mind is too small to even wrap around the fact that I’ll probably never be able to garden like a maniac again, to wake up on a Saturday morning and go outside for eight hours. Debilitated by my mental state, I have soft-focus fantasies of a baby in a Moses basket, covered with white gauze to protect it from flies, sleeping quietly while mummy gardens.

There’s going to be trouble in paradise when I finally wake up.