According to my handy dandy What To Expect app, our baby is growing hair follicles (pray that he/she inherits Rachel’s hairline) and fingernails. The baby also has hands and feet without webs, open nasal passages, a tongue and (hopefully picky like his/her parents) palate in the mouth, and visible nipples, which is a blessing, since we know that nipples aren’t a given for everyone.
I think I put my finger on the most difficult part of being separated from your loved ones. This doesn’t even necessarily have to apply to your spouse or kids; it can be the product of being away from your parents, relatives, close friends, people from your hometown, etc. It’s the fact that you just aren’t living the same life as anyone else you’re close to anymore. The same ties that were present to the point where you took them for granted no longer exist. You’re doing something drastically different from your loved ones the vast majority of the time you’re apart, and over time, after the initial shock of missing each other wears off and you both return to living your separate day to day lives, it gets really difficult to relate to each other.
Rachel and I have gone through this lately. My life is pretty simple out here. I work reasonable and stable hours, go to the gym, do reasonable amounts of schoolwork, read a bunch, write silly blogs on wordpress, and have fun with my friends on the weekends. Most of what I do makes me generally happy. Rachel’s life? Not so much.
She works these ridiculous, ever-changing hours as a property manager for her parents’ company while taking three (fucking three!) Master’s courses at a time, since she’s casually condensing a 18 month program into a 12 month dash to the finish line before giving birth and almost immediately moving away from everything she’s ever known for the next three years. Which is to say she doesn’t do too much outside of that. Her idea of a good time these days consists of getting our poodle to stay in the case that he’s traveling in during our flight for gradually longer periods of time. That brings her genuine joy. So when we’re on the phone and I’m talking about all the places I’m seeing and the cool things I’m doing on a regular basis, she gets…jealous? Yeah, I think she gets jealous. And I’d be pretty jealous if the roles were reversed.
If I was bogged with a never-ending burden of papers and discussion boards with the occasional 8pm-3am work shift thrown in just to ensure that my sleep cycle is never quite right, I’d probably tire of hearing about my wife’s relatively paradisal days pretty quickly. And I’m not even pregnant.
She always talks about how our lives are so different now. They were different from the moment I left for Central America, but we at least had the common tie of crying about how much this sucks and how we miss each other more than anything. Now we’re approaching the dog days of the deployment, and exchanging variations of “I miss you” for hours on end doesn’t exactly make for compelling conversation after the first month.
As much fun as I’m having out here, I’d kill to be doing the day to day grind with Rachel. I think most guys take a unique sense of pride in caring for their pregnant wives, especially if they were independent beforehand. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard my friends brag about their pregnant wives making them get pretzels and ice cream from the store at 2am or watching their walks gradually turn into waddles as the belly inflates, and I used to think to myself, “Huh? That sounds horrible. What’s so fun about that?” But now that I’m in the situation, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Massaging Rachel’s feet until my hands cramp while she threatens to kill me for impregnating her in the first place has never sounded more appealing.
She’ll be here on Thursday, and she’ll stay through the weekend. I’m sure I won’t be writing much, since I’ll be busy trying to fit two months of affection and quality time and sex (YES YES YES YES…sorry) and just getting back on the same page and generally doing the same things into those next four days. The time will go way too quickly, and I’ll be kicking myself for not doing a bunch of cool things that we didn’t have time to fit, but she’ll know that I tried my best and appreciate me for it. Then the cycle starts again.