My Ghostland post from a couple weeks, The Honorable Thing, past struck something of a sour note with my wife. Not because she condemns by behavior or whatnot before I met her, but because we had a couple pregnancy scares of our own early in our marriage that wherein she believes I was not at my best.
Clancy has been on the NuvaRing for most of our marriage and it is a product that we both love. Prior to that, there were pills and condoms. The problem with The Pill is that you have a rather short window within which to take to it. The problem with that for Clancy is that at the time she was working a hectic and variable schedule. It’s not all that hard to remember to take a pill after brushing your teeth at night or after your shower in the morning, but it’s a little more difficult when you don’t know where you’re going to be during those usually-timed domestic adventures. In other words, her schedule, which included 30-hour shifts every third or fourth night with no regular M-F workweek, made her have to remember under circumstances it was easy to forget.
She started looking for alternatives to The Pill after our second pregnancy scare. The first was only a question of waiting a couple weeks and taking the test and there were no signs in the meantime. The second time, though, there were signs. There was spotting and more importantly there was constant nausea which is not something that Clancy gets on even an irregular basis. I actually had to have Clancy remind me what the signs were because I forgot. She didn’t forget, partially because she has a better memory than I do, and partially because it was a more traumatic experience for her than it was for me. Therein lied the problem that my Honorable post reminded me of.
Clancy is not at all the type of person to fake a pregnancy for any reason whatsoever. It was hard to her to relate to the Honorable post because she can’t imagine convincing herself that she was pregnant when she wasn’t and she definitely couldn’t imagine crying when discovering that she wasn’t pregnant. Her behavior was not the behavior of the girl in the story. My behavior, however, was not entirely so different. In retrospect, as she explained it to me the other day, I can see that as a definite error on my part.
I was, from the moment that she became concerned, not all that worried at all. Mostly because I’d been through pregnancy scares before. I’d had two or three with Julie, three after Julie and before Clancy, and Clancy and I had ourselves had one. After each one, I chided myself for being so worried about it. What were the odds? The fact that (at least in the three scares that weren’t grounded in a serious relationship) a positive would have been a terrible circumstance (until, I imagine, I held the little bugger in my arms), the terribleness of a Pink Means Pregnant made the likelihood absolutely no greater. It just gave me something to brood on.
So I wasn’t that worried. It seemed unlikely that the one or two times that we made love and later found out that she had maybe missed a pill or taken it on the border of what was the window of opportunity within which she could take it would be the one time (or one of the two times) when one of my little race cars crossed the finish line into the winner’s circle. Beyond that, I’d just been through this one too many times and (not knowing that the NuvaRing would make it so that we would never go through it again) my neurosis was not powerful enough to gin up the worry, brooding, and reckless chain-smoking that characterized it on all the previous instances.
Her perspective was different. First, she had not gone through the number of scares that I had. This was much newer terrain for her. It was to her what my first couple scares with Julie were, which had completely freaked me out. Beyond that, though, she was the one experiencing signs of possible pregnancy. She was the one that was spotting and nauseous and I wasn’t. I could put it out of her mind while her body would not let her.
Adding to the overall stress-level of the affair was my seeming indifference. To be clear, I was not indifferent so much as I was confident. That was how I looked at it, anyway. I was confident that she wasn’t pregnant. That was, of course, not how she looked at it. And fairly so. I had told her in no uncertain circumstances that if she were pregnant that we would work through it and it would all be okay. I described it as a logistical nightmare (a summation that she agreed with), but one that we could work through. At least, I’m pretty sure that I told her all that (I know I told her “logistical nightmare”, at any rate; she remembers that quite clearly).
That brings me to the other thing. When it came to Julie, she was someone that I was not bothered about the prospect of having children with, but I would have had a lot of difficulty supporting it. With the ones that came in between Julie and Clancy, though I’d been able to support the child with the appropriate sacrifices, they were not committed girlfriend where I was comfortable with the prospect of having children with them. In fact, in all three instances, I was already on my way out there door and in one case it might have brought on a legal war where I would have tried to get sole custody. Clancy was the first where I was comfortable with the prospect of raising children of her and that we would get by. Her perspective there was different, though, for a big reason I’ll get to in a minute.
Whether I wasn’t as clear as I could have been or whether I didn’t get through because the brunt of the logistical nightmare would have fallen on her and not me I do not know, but it certainly is clear in retrospect that I was not sufficiently reassuring. The biggest mistake, in retrospect, was that I I think I gave her the impression that until it turned out that she was pregnant, she was in this alone. That was not remotely my intent and I think on some level she knew that, but it probably was the impression that I gave. For someone that was working harder than she had ever worked in her life and was under burdens that would test the most composed of individuals, it was a very bad impression.
Looking back, I think that my mind had put this into the category that it had with others that were more prone to become paranoid about pregnancy. Sure, Clancy wasn’t a drama queen, but I think that somewhere in my mind I must have figured that because she delivered babies as a significant part of her career and she had the medical expertise to know what each and every ambiguous sign could mean, that she was inferring more than was probably accurate from the signs that her body was giving her. This was a rather unfair way of looking at it. Particularly because I had been in her shoes. Errr, not because my body had ever given me the signs that her body was giving her, of course, but in the shoes of one that is thinking “Oh, my God. What if it is happening.”
My biggest mistake, I think, was not looking at it that way. My confidence, whether I had vocalized it or not, should have allowed me to be more a pillar of strength for her during a pretty trying time. It should have allowed me to say “She can lean on me, because the way that I feel about this I don’t need to lean on anyone.” Unfortunately, that’s not where my mind went.
As readers can probably guess from the fact that I say “scare” rather than “miscarriage” (or the unlikelihood that I have a three year old child that I happened to never tell you about), she wasn’t pregnant in the end. The whole incident did push us into saying “Isn’t there something that we can do so that we can be assured that this doesn’t happen again?” After a brief stint with The Patch, we discovered the then-new NuvaRing, and it hasn’t been a concern since.
Of course, now that we’re looking at actually having children, I have a completely different worry. I worry that I will look back and wish that she had been pregnant because it was when we had a chance to.