Yesterday when Dr. Husband and I were out on our daily walk we talked a bit about my fears of childbirth—specifically my fear that he’ll get annoyed with me when I ask for a different flavor of popsicle than the one he’s handing me or when I ask him to retrieve the soft toilet paper from the stash in my overnight bag because the hospital’s toilet paper is too sharp or when I tell him the smell of his hair gel is making my nausea unbearable and can he please go wash his hair? or whatever crazy demands I make in the throes of labor.
“I’m not attacking you,” I gingerly explained, “I’m just saying that we have a bit of a history of my needs causing you irritation, and I’m nervous about that happening when I’m giving birth.”
My emergency room doctor husband reminded me that he’s really good in emergencies (duh) and figures that childbirth qualifies as such. When I reminded him that childbirth is a rather prolonged “emergency” scenario and I just wanted to make sure that he could handle the popsicle/toilet paper/hair washing demands of hour eleven or nineteen or whatever, he said, “Oh, don’t worry. I know it’s not going to go quickly. You’re kind of a black-cloud patient.”
A black-cloud patient? I was trying to assess what this could possibly mean and whether I should be offended when Dr. Husband added, “That’s mean, I shouldn’t have said that.”
Okay, then. That cleared up whether I should be offended.
I asked him what he meant and he said that in residency there are residents for whom everything seems to go right—the “white cloud” residents—and those for whom everything seems to go wrong. “You know, a patient who seems totally fine suddenly dies,” he cheerfully explained—and then hastened to add that it was through no doing of their own. “It’s like a curse, a lore.”
“But the ones who see more bad stuff get a better education,” I observed, always rooting for the underdog.
Dr. Husband nodded—perhaps somewhat dismissively?—and then continued to tell me about some study that was done that showed that the “black cloud” residents were less efficient than the white cloudies and that somehow contributed to their seeming bad luck.
“So you’re saying is their fault?”
“That’s why it was a mean thing to say.”
Notice the man did not say he didn’t mean it—just that he shouldn’t have said it.
“But not everything. Has gone wrong. With my pregnancy!” I protested, huffing heavily after every few words so I wouldn’t get one of the crippling side cramps I’ve been prone to on our walks the past few months. “I mean. So many. Things. That could have. Gone wrong. Haven’t! I haven’t. Had any. Complications. At all. I’m just. Really sensitive. To the stuff. That does happen!”
Dr. Husband nodded enigmatically and held his tongue.
“I don’t. Have a black cloud. Over my head!” I insisted as we turned the corner to head up the alleyway behind our house. I then proceeded to slip on a loose patch of gravel and fall on my knees so hard I was pretty sure I broke them.
I can no longer put weight on the right one when I go up stairs, and both sitting down and standing up are excruciating—especially from a low seat, such as a toilet. And I don’t know if you’ve heard, but pregnant ladies tend to have to pee with some frequency, what with a giant uterus full of blood and water and baby squishing down on our bladders.
Also, the right knee bled all night long, soaking through the band-aids and making our bed look like a murder scene, albeit a small one—maybe a squirrel murder scene?—this morning. Dr. Husband had originally offered to give me stitches, but by the time I overcame my wimpiness and agreed, he had chickened out. “Stitches hurt pretty bad,” he explained.
Then I asked him if he could pick me up some pistachio ice cream from the grocery store and he said, “But we have lots of gingersnap in the freezer.”