(I wrote this while half in the bag Friday night. Outside of a few minor grammatical corrections, this is untouched from that writing.)
I’m watching WWF Vengeance 2001 on the WWE Network. It’s the one where Chris Jericho unifies the two world championships into one belt. As a Jericho fan, it’s probably the pinnacle of Y2J fandom. My wife and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner (not an uncommon Friday night thing for us), and it was a great night. I love their wings, so does she, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Once we came home, I continued to watch TV and do our normal-in-our-30s-Friday-night-thing, and her system precluded her from being able to hang out any further. I get that. She’s got a vampire growing inside her, and I’m still me. So I turned on WWE Network, and she went to the bedroom to lay down.
Shortly after this, I went to have a cigarette from the pack I keep in the garage that was gifted to me from one of my podcast guests. Why do I do this? I have a hypothesis…
I ostensibly quit smoking in early 2011. I didn’t miss it. I cleaned up my life, shed 40 lbs, and have never been healthier. Concurrently, we tried to have a child, I guzzled vitamins, turned myself into a paragon of health as much as I was able to, and dedicated myself to cultivating the healthiest sperm possible.
Once that proved insufficient, and we decided to give up, Kristin and I expanded the boundaries of acceptable behavior. More drinking, more smoking, and a higher level of general debauchery than we had allowed ourselves for over a year.
Then Kristin got pregnant, we both celebrated, and as awesome as that was, it was still nearly a year before the fruits of our labor would be realized by, well, a ton of, uhhhh, labor on her part, and we’d have a new person in our family. That’s all part of reality, not at all surprising, and ultimately the way a child gets made.
So I watched my partner in crime persevere through pregnancy, and the first trimester is no picnic. If I had to choose 3 words to describe her overall condition, I’d choose “tired,” “nauseous,” and “cold.” As the husband, I did what I could to assist, but given the realities of her situation, I’m very ineffectual. And sort of alone.
Given that my wife doesn’t drink anymore – and especially that she’s a champion drinker – I’m left by myself drinking like some goddamn alcoholic. She doesn’t discourage me, which only enhances her reputation as the coolest woman alive. So I drink like we used to.
And it sucks. Yeah, drinking is fun. But sonofabitch I’m lonely. My wife is my favorite drinking buddy. She’s my pal. I don’t need anything else besides her at my side visiting breweries, sipping an IPA with friends, or bullshitting with me at home. But that’s no longer possible. She’s serving a higher (and more rewarding) purpose. And I’m stoked.
But in the moment, I’m lost. I don’t know what to do. And in the absence of knowing what to do, you fall back on what you know. So what do I know?
Cigarettes and wrestling.
I watch old wrestling when she’s not around or not feeling well. I blaze up a square when she’s down for the count and I have a good buzz going. I don’t feel good about it, but it’s what happens. I’m stressed at work, there’s uncertainty about what comes once our family goes from 2 to 3, and I dwell in anxiety more often that I would like (or like to admit).
So I smoke. I had no desire to smoke when I drank with my wife (outside of a few isolated incidents pertaining to infertility unpleasantness or generalized anxiety about infertility and notions of giving up entirely), yet I can’t shake the urge now.
I suspect it’s because I’ve lost my anchor. And as I stated in the intro, I’m watching a PPV from 2001. In 2001, I smoked a lot of cigarettes and watched A LOT of wrestling. I’ve returned to what’s familiar pretty much out of not knowing what else to do. In an odd way, it’s freeing. In an odder way, it’s terrifying because I know in a few months my choices will be made for me.
And I think that’s good because smoking is awful. I’m ready to give myself to someone else. Kristin is already. I can only assist. Soon enough, I’ll be right there with her. And as much as I like the feeling of my extremities going numb from a pull from a cancer stick, I’m ready for a less ethereal and more long-lasting high from my own child.
This is what it feels like to have a wife 14.5 weeks pregnant.