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May 6, 2009
Road Trip With a
Pregnant Woman (Or, the Journey of 1,000 Stops)
had been on the road for about an hour when she first needed to stop,
and I began to feel the weight of a seven-hour road trip with a pregnant
wife. “Try feeling the weight of a person on your bladder 24 hours a day
and then you can think about complaining” would be her response if I
decided to verbalize my frustration. Either way, we were about to embark
on a 400-plus mile trip from the East Bay to Lake Arrowhead, which would
inevitably feature frequent pee stops.
ask a pregnant woman to go on an extended road trip is a lot like asking
an albino to join you on a Caribbean vacation. To ask this pregnant
woman to leave at 3 a.m. is like telling the albino there’s not enough
room to pack sunscreen. This was our plight, and if my wife were not one
of the most generous people in the history of people – and if we weren’t
on the rarely-mentioned baby-on-the-way budget – then I might not have
asked this of her. But the situation being what it was, a trip from
Northern California to Southern California through Hell seemed our only
tried to prepare for it. When she agreed to take the trip, she warned me
that we’d be stopping a lot, which I figured meant once every hour or
two. Three hours into the trip and four pee stops later, it became clear
that my estimation was a little off.
I could take a moment to reflect on a general truth: To be informed
about an impending frustration is not the same as being ready. For
instance, when a married person tells an engaged person that marriage
can be difficult, the engaged person is not suddenly ready to be
married. He has merely been warned. And similarly, I had no idea how
much I valued driving long distances without stopping until I took this
ridiculous trip. My wife’s warning was just that, a warning. It did not
somehow prepare me to deal with the frustration of stopping every time
we saw a giant yellow shell, or a Chevron, or the number 76, on the side
of the highway. This is a life lesson we all might consider learning as
early as possible. But then again, it’s only a warning.
taking the trip, my wife held up her end of the bargain. Unfortunately,
I fear that I failed to hold up mine. If my dramatic facial expressions
weren’t clear enough, my occasional snide comments certainly were. “So,
we’re going for a new record this time, right honey?” “Didn’t we just
get back on the highway?” Katey is an angel for not dousing me with
bottled water at 80 miles an hour. Then again, she probably would have
if she weren’t concerned about the safety of herself and the baby.
The fact that we made it to Lake Arrowhead before 11a.m. is one of the
most impressive feats of travel I’ve ever heard of, much less
accomplished. It’s a testimony to my ability to drive over the speed
limit while avoiding the radar guns, as well as a testimony to my wife’s
The way back was easier, as we broke it up with a night in Santa
Barbara, which was quite beautiful. However, we still had a five-hour
trip from SB to the East Bay. It only took about an hour before I began
stewing again, wondering how inappropriate the following bumper sticker
would be: CAUTION: VEHICLE MAKES FREQUENT PEE STOPS.
But it was not until an incident about an hour from the end of the trip
that things were finally in their proper perspective. I never considered
stopping on my own account, as I knew she would have to go pretty soon
anyway. A pee stop for me would only slow us down even more. But
wouldn’t you know it, we had been driving for about an hour and a half
since our last stop – during which I decided not to go – and at the stop
before that, I drank two full cups of coffee. (Look up the “Madonna
Inn.” It’s something to behold.) All of a sudden, I realized that my
bladder was human and I had to go like the proverbial racehorse. We
passed a rest area and the voice in my head was pleading for her to
notice it. We passed big yellow shell signs, am pms, 76s and Chevrons
without a peep from my wife. She had suddenly acquired an iron bladder.
was about to burst, but my resolve (pride/fear of embarrassment and
endless jibes) gave me no relief. Finally, as I was mere seconds from
caving, miracles came true. “Honey, I think I have to pee soon.” I would
have wrenched the wheel to the right in order to catch the first
possible off-ramp, but it was too close. I calmly took the next exit,
rolled my eyes and found relief.
The trip was not ideal, but it was a learning experience. Among other
things, I learned that it may be worth it to extract an airfare budget
from the baby-on-the-way budget.
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