Hub-in-boots generally has the remote control. He’s a man, that’s what they do. My latest game is watching his face when a baby / pregnancy / motherhood type ad comes on. At first they really upset me, but when he’s in the house it’s my new favourite game.
He gets this startled deer in the headlights look. Which he instantly tries to hide. He then proceeds to either nonchalantly change the subject/talk loudly over the television about AFL, or pretend to be casually channel surfing. It normally happens during the ads. There’s the huggies ad, followed by the ad for the “worst teenage mums” show, followed by the ad for the “camera in a british labour ward lets look at all the beautiful experiences
giving birth show”. They seem to be on an endless cycle. Sometimes he goes very very quiet and very very still, as though, like a little rabbit in the face of a giant predator, no one will notice. (I think the giant predator is me, in this scenario, but I could be
wrong). Sometimes he loudly declares “yes well I don’t think we’ll be watching that one, unless I feel like poking myself in the eye with a fork all night”. Sometimes he just declares “stupid balls” then changes the channel. But my favourite one is the deer-in-the-headlights.
The deer-in-the-headlights involves a split second (so you have to be careful or you’ll miss it) of freezing with a completely blank expression, eyes wide, mouth hanging slightly open. The deer then tries to casually go about his business, or else quietly amble away out of the room with a I’m not looking at you so you can’t see me intent. It is similar to an “I’m
not surfing internet porn, I’m checking on real estate” face, so I’ve been told. The deer-in-headlights is sometimes followed rapidly by the loud distraction , jumping up in a flurry of “can I get you a cup of tea/mineral water/do you want some wine?’.
Hub-in-boots is an interesting man. On the one hand, he laughs when he farts. Or, the ther day, coughed and farted at the same time, then burst into giggles, then more farts.
He literally laughs himself off the couch when watching “Wipeout USA” (as in laughs til he can’t breathe whilst simultaneously ending up on the floor) or the Sports bet ad with the cat playing the bongoes. He is fascinated by his own nose hairs, and has been known to email me if he finds a grey one.
He finds most things amusing, very little worries him, and is impressed with himself when he manages to put his underpants on. He loves almost all sport, but loathes golf and basketball, and is mystified by Rugby League but will still shout at the television whilst it is on despite his complete lack of knowledge of the rules. He is obsessed with AFL and involved at a semi professional level. He “man cleans” (that is cleans til there are no visible
large chunks of scunge laying around without moving any furniture or worrying
about corners) man looks “nope can’t see it. There’s no water crackers in here”
as I reach past and grab them with one hand, and brings in clothes that are man
“I’ve brought in the clothes.”
“Really? Are they dry?”
“Are they dry? Really? Or man dry”
“weeeeellll, maybe man dry” he says, putting on a soaking
wet pair of jeans.
He has been known to kick himself in the balls when taking off his “skins” compression tights after footy training. We have both concurred he looks a little like a blue footed
booby in these moments. He cracks bad dad jokes, and generally finds himself to
be hilarious, handsome, and difficult to beat. Mostly he’s right. Mostly.
On this basis, he will have positive children (rapidly currently being revised to child, singular, if we’re lucky, we’re running out of time) who have enormous feet and
hands, long gangly limbs, rangas, with no coordination whatsoever.
On the other hand, hub-in-boots is a thoughtful, intelligent man. It is interesting that he can so fully embrace all the man stuff of life, but still be so emotionally intelligent and (mostly) emotionally aware, that he can be brought up stoicly by a father not so good with displaying affection, and yet be so open to displaying his own. He is caring and considerate, in a quietly taking in what’s happening and thinking about what he can contribute kind of way, the way that surprises me always when I think he’s not seeing
anything of how I’m feeling. Yet his gestures show he’s taken in everything, reflected on it, thought about his relationship to whatever it is, formulated a plan, and responded.
I remember when we were very early on in the dating game, like a month or two in. Really early. And I was up half the night marking exams so I could get away to Melbourne. Frazzled, finalising results, in a scramble. I was off to see my cousin and her kids. So he shows up to my house, with an ozifrog showbag. Wine, chocolate for me, and a bad full of daggy presents for each kid I am going to see, wigs, giant sunglasses, toys. He’s like that.
He reads sprint car magazines, likes sausages, drinks beer. He will watch James Bond files or Jason Bourne every day of the week. He’s all bloke. But he also loves Jeffrey Smart, and arthouse films like Man On Wire and The Band’s Visit.
So during IVF, hub in boots was both the deer caught in the headlights, stunned, unable or unwilling to talk about the hard parts of the experience (very bloke), but also the best listener, the best partner I could ask for (not so traditional bloke). Every single night he sat beside me during the injections, and despite being terrified of needles he laid everything out, did the sharps disposal, cleaned up afterwards and got me an icepack and a cup
of tea. He’s been to every single blood test and scan, bar one, he’s monitored
my fluid intake and painkillers and anything else I need to remember. He heated
up wheat packs before leaving for work so the morning was easier for me and my
sore ovaries. He rang the nurses when I was worried about something after the
The limit on this is, no matter how supportive the partner is, physically, the partner is not going through the experience IVF. You are giving up control of your body, of your feeling of wellness, of your exercise possibilities, of your ability to have a drink when you want. I have now felt pretty unwell and tired for a week. Crampy, achy, bloated, tired. And that’s
ok. I understand there’s a cost to this, and that we have chosen this path. But this is what can make it an isolating experience, and IVF sometimes can be something that separates you, as well as brings you together. And all the cups of tea and heat packs in the world cannot compensate for the loss of control, physically, of my own wellness. Even though hub in boots still laughs himself off the couch watching a cat playing the bongoes, even though he is still a wonderful man, at some times on this journey we are both still alone.
But at least when he laughs at a cat playing the bongoes, or walks out of the collecting room with his fly undone, he can still make me laugh.