Sometimes, when I say that I have KIDS, the words come out of my mouth as if I am mentioning an acronym for an exotic chronic illness that I contracted on a hike through the Congo. In truth, having children is a condition similar to some long suffering ailment – you’re usually tired, delirious and in need of Advil. The symptoms from having KIDS vary from month to month or year to year, but you’re never actually cured.
I have often imagined an infomercial scene between myself and a helpful OBGYN (or someone who plays one on T.V.) who’s not afraid to give me the real deal immediately after I first learn that I have developed a severe case of children.
Me: So, what can I expect?
Doc: Well, it starts off with several months of nausea, vomiting, swelling of various body parts and seemingly uncontrollable weight gain.
Doc: You may get hemorrhoids or you may get heartburn. Or you may get both. You may also cry at cat food commercials. You may adore your husband at four in the afternoon, but by six decide to leave him. You may be able to smell something from across the house – which is good if it’s a scented candle, bad if it’s chicken salad from last week that you forgot to throw out.
Me: This sounds pretty bad.
Doc: Oh, don’t worry, it gets worse. Following that phase, which will HOPEFULLY last nine to ten months, you will likely need to be hospitalized briefly while you endure the worst physical pain of your life.
Me: WHAT? Oh my God, that sounds awful!
Doc: Mmmm, yes, it is. You may pray for death. Or at least some tequila.
Me: Can my husband be there?
Doc: Yes, but he won’t be much use. Don’t worry, this stage doesn’t last that long.
Me: Thank goodness for that.
Doc: The next phase is the longest one. You can expect to undergo varying periods of sleeplessness, self-doubt, anxiety, hostility and aggressive behaviors. You will feel like everything you’re doing is wrong, that you are being judged everywhere you go, and that no one truly appreciates you.
Me: How long does THAT last?
Doc: Oh, it should all clear up in about 18-21 years.
Me: 21 YEARS!?
Doc: And, that’s if you’re lucky. Sometimes, after a brief remission period, KIDS may come back for another few years.
Me: Wow, this all sounds pretty grim. I’m not sure I can handle this. Can’t you give me anything? You know, for the pain?
Doc: I can give you something to take the edge off. Let me write you a prescription for Chardonnay.