Tuesday, September 4, 2007

And Then There Were Four (Well... Sort Of)

Vince's eyebrows shoot up in alarm as he educates himself on the finer points of childbirth and labor.
Back in May when we were preparing to move into our new home, Vince and I realized Oliver might get lonely spending each day by himself in such a big place. To combat potential pug depression, we came up with the perfect solution - we decided to have a baby! When we excitedly told Oliver that he could expect his new playmate to arrive next February or March, his reaction was lukewarm to say the least. For one thing, he tried to chew up the positive pregnancy test we showed him. We assured him that no matter how adorable the new baby might be, he would still be Numero Uno in our hearts, but to no avail. The pug was inconsolable. Below, you can see him sulking in every corner of the house.

Just as I was beginning to worry that Oliver might one day eat his adversary in a jealousy-induced fit of rage, something funny happened. Implausible as it seemed, he began exhibiting signs of Couvade Syndrome, AKA Sympathetic Pregnancy. This phenomenon - by which expectant fathers experience pregnancy symptoms such as nausea or weight gain - can be brought on by anxiety, guilt, identification with the fetus (huh?), or jealousy. Vince had a little tummyache and some blemishes, but that was it. To be honest, I was rather miffed he wasn't sympathizing more. If I was miserable, my hormone-addled mind reasoned that he should be just as miserable for putting me in this state. The pug, on the other hand, seemed to be over-sympathizing. One morning when I was on the brink of throwing up, I found that Oliver had beaten me to the punch and already puked on the floor. In the evenings, I would struggle to stay awake long enough to drive home, only to find that Oliver was already passed out cold in his bed. But the strangest thing was that when I started breaking out in pregnancy pimples, a big, shiny zit showed up on Oliver's face, too (see Fig. A, below). At that point, I stopped worrying about his jealousy and started worrying about him. He'd been matching me symptom for symptom so far, and I feared what might happen once I began ballooning. Do pugs even retain water? Or maybe I was missing the big picture - why is my pug's Couvade surpassing my husband's? Isn't that a bad sign? Well, I suppose that as long as the hubby exhibits some sympathy pregnancy symptoms, I shouldn't worry. Even though I'd be secretly delighted to witness sympathy bloating, I'd take a sympathy footrub. Or later, some sympathy diaper-changing.

Fig. A: Oliver's Couvade zit.

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