I’m seething because Reservoir Mum has just told me that not a single person offered her a seat on the train this morning. I’m running through a mental list of implements I keep in a locked box in the garage for torturing strangers when she says, ‘I don’t really care. I actually hate it when people offer me a seat. I mean, I’m a pregnant woman, not a pensioner…’
I’m about to scream out ‘pregnancy brain!!’ but, thankfully, am able to stop myself at ‘pr…’ which gives me a moment to think.
Reservoir Mum hates it when people don’t offer her a seat on a train just as much as she hates it when they do. This is not a sign that women are indecisive – I hate that stereotype – it’s just a sign that women are complicated. And despite the fact that I also hate the stereotype that men are more simple in their thought processes, I do seem to have a more effortless, child-like way of getting from A to B. If I’m hungry I open the fridge and eat the closest item of food. If someone ignores my pregnant wife on a train I cut off their toes with bolt cutters.
Still, I’m aware that great harm can occur when simple clashes with complicated and so consider my approach carefully.
I’m just about certain that women like it when you listen to them – that was made clear by Mick in Crocodile Dundee – but I’m also aware of the fact that listening is not nearly enough. You have to prove that you’re listening by responding to women in the appropriate way. And with pregnant women you have to be super-appropriate.
What’s super-appropriate RD? Well, trying to fix things is a no go. So the bolt cutters are just not going to cut it this time. And spending too much time engaged in a conversation with yourself is also unlikely to impress. Reservoir Mum only wants acknowledgement. Yes, that’s all. She needs to know she’s being heard. How should I do this? A nod? A tilt of the head and a serious hmmm? A sympathetic but softly spoken yeah? I think being super-appropriate means using all of those things and showing some initiative by adding just a little bit more – a personal touch.
So, I say ‘Hmmm, you’re conflicted.’ Then I nod and say ‘Yeah‘, softly, as I tilt my head.
When she responds with, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ I straighten up quickly and crick my neck.
Later, we sit in front of the TV and as Reservoir Mum’s trying to massage some flex back into my neck, I flick randomly through channels and start thinking about baby number four.
‘I’m going to start playing music to the baby at night. To subliminally influence it.’
‘What sort of music?’ she asks.
‘Great music by an artist, so that the baby is born with rhythym and good taste, like it’s old man.’
‘Not Rick Astley again…’
‘Yes. Rick Astley. Are you still feeling it kicking?’ I ask.
‘Heaps,’ she says. ‘Mule-ish’
‘Hey, it’s week 19. Remember to wipe from front to back okay.’
‘What are yout alking about… ?’
‘At this stage of pregnancy there’s a much greater risk of urinary tract infection. I read that on the Huggies website.’
‘Are you telling me this so that you can include it in your blog post?’
‘Yes. I want to be informative.’
‘I’m sure millions of women will benefit from that advice.’
(note – please, if you are nineteen weeks pregnant and currently wipe from back to front I urge you to consider changing direction. Your bladder will thank me. Come back next week for more crucial advice.)
‘Excellent.’ I say. ‘So next week we get the video! Find out the sex…’
‘You think we should?
‘Of course,’ I say. ‘Modern technology… fishing around for unborn willies… be silly not to use it.’
‘I don’t know. We found out with Archie. Didn’t with Lewis. Then found out again with Tyson. Maybe we should stick with the pattern.’
‘I’d like to find out. But it’d be tough if one of us did and one of us didn’t. What if we find out but don’t tell anyone else.’
‘Can’t do that,’ she says. ‘People will know. It’d be too hard not to say ‘he’ or ‘she’…’
‘We could say ‘he’ and ‘she’ just to throw them off the track.
‘They’ll see it in our eyes.’
‘We could wear sunglasses until it’s born…’
She laughs. ‘How about we just wait and decide next week.’
‘Okay,’ I say, before thinking a bit more and adding, ‘Part of me really wants to find out because I can start to think about names, imagine another he or she fitting in with the boys and… I feel like I really start to bond with it more when I know the sex. But part of me’s okay with a surprise, I guess.’
I let that sit and as Reservoir Mum’s fingers press the right spot and thrill me with a nasty, pleasurable pain I give up on flicking through the channels. ‘Here I tell her,’ handing over the remote, ‘You pick something. I can’t fricken decide.’
‘Hmmm,’ Reservoir Mum says, ‘You seem conflicted. Yeahhhhh….’
Do you think finding out the sex of your unborn is a good thing? How is your decision influenced by family and friends? Do you think we should find out? Do you think limit is a funnier word than pamphlet? Do you think ‘skin tags’ are gross or a sign of individuality? Come back for the next Wednesdays From The Womb for a run down on the twenty week scan.