I work in a small office. There are about 10 of us, give or take. One gal is currently out on maternity leave, one gal is currently pregnant, and one guy just had a baby and recently got back after about 2 weeks of paternity leave. Since there was/is so much baby talk in my office, I kept thinking about this blog post and how I needed to write it.
As my male co-worker's wife was getting closer and closer to her due date, I kept asking him how Suzie was doing. It wasn't until I got his responses that I realized how damn lucky Steve was when I was pregnant.
Why lucky? Because he was there only half the time. He was there for only half the whiny pregnant calls, and half the tossing and turning at night. See where I am headed? Lucky man...it wasn't until recently that I realized how much he missed from the pregnancy. Let's face it, pregnancy really isn't pretty - for the woman it starts with the fat belly and the huge blue veiny boobs, and for the man it is the midnight runs to the store for food and the constant whining he has to deal with.
Let's rewind a bit to the whole conception thing. Luckily for us, Steve's schedule never played a part in the whole timing your ovulation thing. We threw out the birth control, and on our second month of actually trying I got my +. And with #2, we had 3 days to "get the job done." We were in-between a 5-day trip to Zurich and a 5-day trip to Florida with family, so alone time was limited. Talk about perfect timing!
But, there are plenty of pilot wives out there that struggle with this whole ovulation timing thing. For those people who don't know, the ovulation window is about 5 days. But truly, I think the window is something more like 2 days. Let's average these days out, and call it a 3 days window, for argument sake. 3 days to make a baby isn't so easy when you pilot is gone on 4-days trips...or 7-day trips like some I know.
Imagine month after month your sperm is gone during that 3-day window. Sucks! I am sure when you are in the thick of trying to conceive, a gal is likely to pull his schedule and quickly look for that window to see if he will be home. It is all about timing, and if timing is off you are very likely to curse the stupid job that takes your man away.
Ok, so you man is home during your window. But guess what...let's not forget something here - sex isn't always a guarantee when you pilot is home. As much as I preach about making sure bedroom activities are up to par, sometimes it just doesn't happen. Take Steve's time home after his last trip, for example. Steve was home for three nights.
Night #1 we were on his parent's boat...6 people on a boat = no privacy.
Night #2, I was pissy and exhausted. Not to mention, my boobs were crazy sore/sensitive (PMS) and the thought of anyone touching them made me cringe. I would imagine that sensitive boobs have to be what a man feels when hit in the nuts. Serious!
Night #3, my back hurt like you wouldn't believe. Steve was leaving for a trip the next morning and I know his final question of the night, how is your back doing, had an underlying agenda. As much as I like to leave him with pleasant thoughts, my back was screaming at me and I knew any physical activity was out of the question. This is all to show that sex isn't a guarantee when your pilot is home, and if you aren't "doin' it" then babies aren't being made. Get it?
Ok, so you finally conceive that beautiful baby...what is next? That beautiful phone call you get from your beautiful wife, while you are sitting in your beautiful crash pad, on reserve, that you are going to be a Daddy! No meeting eye-to-eye and sharing the most beautiful embrace to dwell in what is to come. Nope, I had plans of margarita night that night, so I had to take the test so that I knew. You know, because drinking and pregnancy don't mix. Sure, I could have waited until Steve was home to share the news and then that wonderful embrace, but chances are one of the gals would have picked up the fact that boozie Joanna wasn't drinking. I had to have Steve be the first person I told. #2 wasn't so dramatic - Steve was home, I took a test early in the morning, told him, and he basically high-fived himself and shouted a muted "yeah!" Do all guys act this way?!
So now you have the conception out of the way. What's next? Lots of thinking and planning. Oh, and lots of mood swings and aches and pains. And, you, the lucky pilot, is going to miss 1/2 of the beauty that is pregnancy.
To take a serious turn a bit, Steve and I did go through major issues when I was pregnant with our first. Relationship issues, nothing concerning the baby. Since I was pregnant, that meant we didn't need protection during sex. Obviously. Well, this led to me having bleeding around 6 weeks. Apparently semen can soften the cervix. Well, this led to Steve being so scared to have sex with me because he was fearful of hurting the baby, that we pretty much didn't. Serious. We did it maybe a handful of times over the entire 37 weeks.
Traveling husband + wife whose love language is physical touch + no sex = trip to a marriage counselor. She told me I had abandonment issues. I have since learned on my own that my love tank was EMPTY, and it impacted me in a major way. Steve was the good guy in all this. He was even surprised to hear this. On the day our third appointment was scheduled, I delivered our dear son. Issues ceased since my husband was no longer afraid to touch me. I truly believed this issue was exacerbated due to his traveling. That sucked!
Ok, so where was I? Oh, missing 1/2 of all the fun pregnancy stuff. Really, Steve wasn't there for 1/2 of it. Talk about having an easy time with the pregnancy. He didn't have to deal with my restless ass, waking up 3 times in the middle of the night to pee. He didn't have to deal with my whininess about aches and pains and constipation. Hell, he didn't even have to deal with 10 hours of my 17 hour labor and delivery with Ben...
...now, where things get interesting is the day Ben was born. August 6th, 7am: I awaken to contractions. Of course Steve was on a trip. I was 37 weeks, 1 day. I didn't have my "baby backup plan" in place yet. I had "babysitters" for me scheduled around 38 weeks when Steve was on trips, and this was only 37 weeks! With this being my first, I figured it wasn't a big deal. But, as the morning progressed I had the sense that something was happening. By noon I was tracking his flight from Puerto Rico into a hub (not ours), and was ready to call him the second he landed.
I got in touch. After explaining the morning, and trying to convince him that I wasn't joking, I and told him he didn't have to come home, but I was just informing him of what was happening. He awesome chief pilot sent him home on an emergency drop because he "didn't want to take any chances". I think a revenue pax was even kicked off the plane so he could get home. Sucks to be him. A CA was junior manned, or reassigned...I forget, to take the rest of his trip - you know, the kind where someone is actually waiting for you at the gate to reassign you. Steve and he did eventually exchange very kind words after the event, and the CA was happy to be a part of Steve being home for the birth of his first child.
As I mentioned before, I was laboring at home all day with my mom there. Steve? He was somewhere around 37,000 feet most of the time. He finally did make it home around 5pm, after I was laboring for already 10 hours. By 7pm we headed to the hospital together, and when I got there I was 7cm! 12 hours - 7cm...and Steve had to deal with only 2 hours of it. Within an hour I was admitted and sitting pretty with my epidural. I tell you what, Steve missed all the good parts of my laboring. Again, lucky man.
Benjamin was born at 12:31am.
And here is where all the fun starts...raising this little bundle of joy. Which leads my next blog post...raising a family when Dad is a pilot...the hardest part of being a pilot wife...