You’re So Far Away
Charly and I were both exhilarated and tired after our trip to Italy. It took some effort on both of our parts to settle into the daily routine of our lives back in America. If nothing else, Charly and I were quite right about one thing: she became pregnant quickly. Of course, I attributed this miraculous conception to my inherit maleness and virility, not the romance of Italy. After all, I come from a family of great swimmers! However, amidst my shouts of testosterone, Charly scoffed at the idea and reminded me that I only provided those little wiggly, squiggly things that her mother told her long ago were evil incarnated. She teasingly suggested that she did most of the work at conception and would indeed do most of the work during birth and thereafter. Charly had me cornered and I bowed to her superior reasoning. I loved Charly very much and could never think about life without her. I could hardly remember what life was like before her. We assimilated our strengths and challenges, giving our best to each other without becoming unnecessarily diverted or divided by our personal flaws and differences. Love does that between people. I think I read that somewhere.
By Charly’s fourth month, the glow of Italy had faded some and I was back to work. We learned that our baby floating in the comfort and protection of amniotic fluid was a girl. We started trading names back and forth as couples often do. We thought of Carrie, Heather, Mary, Sarah, Roberta, Janet, Myra, Ann, Wendy, Marilyn, Jennifer, Kristie, Cindy, Robin, Paula, Diane, Toni, Karen, Janell, Rose, Ashley, Sharon, Hannah, Amanda, Donja, Tori Beth—all names of people we knew, people we cared about, people we could honor and who would feel blessed to lend their name to our child. We also gave fleeting thought to less common names—Petra, Isa, Edwina, Daisey, Sheba, Sade, Matilda, Josephine and Lucy. You may not think that Lucy was an unusual name, but Charly was aware of my first encounter with the other… well, the uh, the older woman. She suggested that we add Lucy’s name to our nonconforming suggestions to promote peace and harmony in our marriage. I was so convinced that this was such a great idea that I did not even question her dubious motivation!
In her sixth month, Charly began expressing the usual doubts about her looks, as her ongoing changes in body contour were not flattering to her. Sometimes my insensitive sensitivity was of no help and made matters worse without intending to do so. During the days that my Charly was with child, I did my best to rid my vocabulary of such words as huge, vast, gigantic, mammoth, chubby, colossal, fat, enormous, massive, plump, wide, portly, broad, and fleshy, even if the context was unrelated to my love. I refused to rent the video Titanic, ordered nothing Mexican with El Grande in it, and did not super size anything at fast food restaurants. I was careful to compliment what Charly wore or did not wear, as she appeared beautiful to me no matter what her condition or what she wore. And as I graciously did all this, I wondered how other husbands who found themselves in similar situations kept themselves from forthright lying! Pregnancy becomes Charly. It is at that moment that I experienced a pleasurable flashback to the first time I met Wendy Oaks.
Charly also began having those strange, wonderful cravings for food that generally appalled men who have not experienced pregnancy. Foods in and of themselves that are not repulsive, but the combinations are grossly mind-boggling. Charly particularly liked peanut butter and eggs. She also enjoyed sugar cookies topped with sardines. There were less dramatic cravings, like ketchup and eggs and pizza with mayonnaise. I often questioned silently what these cravings were doing to our yet unborn daughter for I knew exactly what the hell they were doing to me. St. Ignauseous, pray for us! Toward the middle of her sixth month, Charly began to hemorrhage. Fortunately, it was the weekend and I was at home with my love. The day started uneventfully enough for a Saturday. Charly was busy working inside the house. I was mowing the yard and preparing to do those other sundry chores that plague the weekend warrior: trimming; hedging; weeding; cleaning out the garage; etc. You know. Those tasks that men live for… rituals that provide continuity between Friday and Monday, as if we would not otherwise understand the connection or have anything else to do.
Although it was difficult to actually hear above the moan of the lawn mower, I knew something was not right. We all have experienced that deja vu feeling that something is not quite right even though there is no factual or observable evidence to suggest otherwise. As I throttled-down the lawnmower, I could hear distant screaming coming from the house. I quickly throttled-off the mower and ran toward our home. My heart rate soared intensely as I entered the house and yelled, “Charly, Charly, where are you?” Charly whimpered, “In here, I’m in… the bathroom.” I rushed toward the back of the house and entered the bathroom. Charly was crying and frightened. The front of her shorts were coated bright red with blood and it was trickling down her legs as she stood shaking.
I put my arms around Charly and we hugged tightly. She said that the bleeding had begun just moments ago and the flow continued as we spoke. I helped Charly to the floor to lie comfortably while I phoned her obstetrician. Dr. Kelerstein instructed that Charly be driven to the hospital immediately and that she would meet us there.
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