The Pathlab opens at 9am, and when I arrive at 9.15am, there are already 5 people ahead of me. My gynea has sent me for a “Sugar Test,” apparently “standard nowadays.” (I’m thinking obviously I’m going to be checked at some point if I put on 17kg in baby weight before my third tri is done). Her office covers all test costs, I’m just whining about having to fast the night before (endeavor to have Maggie Mee with 2 eggs at midnight, after which I’m not supposed to eat), and the following morning (with only a mouthful of water) before the lab gives me a large cup of glucose to down. (For me this is a huge thing – I eat, even when not pregnant, which is why this is so uncomfy.) Then I have to sit around for exactly two hours before they take more urine and blood samples.
So here I am. There is an elderly man sitting nearby reading Chinese papers, who is soon joined by a similarly elderly woman holding a piece of cotton to her arm. The man is quietly solicitous, but not in the exaggerated way of “new” couples. Still, noticeably more attentive than most men who’ve been married to the same woman for years. (What did comedian Chris Rock say, no matter how hot the woman, there’s always one guy in the world who’s bored with her, and that’s the guy she’s’ with. At the time I think he was referring to Halle Berry.)
I notice the elderly woman makes a slight show of having to hold the cotton to her arm, and the mildly exaggerated way in which she does it makes me think she is used to his attention.
Another younger woman is also being accompanied by her other half, and I notice the man while also attentive is less so, the woman less expectant, and I find the contrast between the two couples interesting. I watch the elderly couple in particular, wondering what they’ve been through, to reach this stage in life and marriage together. I’m more accustomed to local couple fights on the streets, or even more common, that passive-almost-aggressive indifference a man displays as a woman is trying to speak with him.
I find couplehood interesting, and I don’t mean in the initial honeymoon stages, I never take honeymoons seriously. It can be quite surprising, how two human beings finally work out how to live with each other. My uncle used to say you shouldn’t pull out all the stops at the weddings when everyone is all “Of course we can work things out unselfishly, we’re in lurve.” You should pull out all the stops at the anniversaries. If you can stay happily married for 10, 20, 50 years, that is the real achievement.
The biggest “status symbol” of a relationship should be the body language this elderly couple in the clinic with me displays. I catch myself in an unexpected moment – I’m sitting here pregnant with my second child, with the pleasure of being an SAHM to my first who is a gorgeous (if tiny) smartass, having racked up some savings to allow me the luxury. And for an instant I envy the old woman. Not so much the attention she’s getting, but the small sense of entitlement around her most simple of actions in holding the cotton to her arm after the blood test. I’ve never had this air. Kings and I used to hang up on each other in the middle of the work day if the market beckoned, the reason I haven’t cooked in 5 years is because Kings wants the flexibility to not come home for dinner on short notice (sometimes for umpteen evenings) when he has to work – we’ve never been that couple in the past.
What must it be like? She expects her other half to carry all her stuff and open the door for her while she walks thru still holding the cotton to her arm. Just the cotton. They’ve been sitting there quite some time but she’s still got the cotton. How is she treated at home, to have kept this up through the years?
Kings got off a plane several hours earlier that morning from a long haul business class flight (upgrade, yay Marco Polo Club!) but jet-lagged from having spent several days halfway around the world and still with the tail end of a cold. Despite me initially saying I’d cab it, I decided to have him drive me before he hit the sack. (Had been having hunger pangs that seriously hurt and would require I lie on my side for what seemed like ages – come to think of it, my mum got so ravenously hungry when pregnant with me her hands would shake, and she would down 6 eggs a day on top of regular meals. I’m actually taking 2-4 eggs about 4-5 times a week currently. Having previously checked with a dietician that I can apparently handle as many eggs as I want, that is…)
Now I’m thinking fortunately I’d had Kings do the 15 minute drive to the clinic. There are a few lone men and women spending a half day in the clinic for tests like I am, but not many. Mostly couples accompanying each other, and no one else is pregnant. Normally I pride myself on being relatively “low maintenance” and independent, but the discomfort this round, plus the hormones…. I’m glad I hadn’t risked finding myself suddenly wallowing in hormone-induced, bloated self pity, by insisting on going alone after the fast. How often do we women do that, insist we don’t need the attention, and then take the guy’s head off when he “follows instructions too well” and doesn’t give us attention?
That’s the real lesson of the elderly couple sitting in front of me: Sometimes, just accept the attention.
(At the follow up appointment, my Gynea would say, “Pregnancy is a stress on your body, and will show up weaknesses in your system that wouldn’t normally be there, it’s a good time to tell if you’re going to have problems handling sugar when you get older…” Because my test turned out fine is probably why she hasn’t been giving me grief about ballooning 17kg so far… But I’m really dying to have the baby and recover from the op so I can get around and be more active again…)