One downside of pregnancy that they don’t tell you is excessive flatulence.
Mrs Canavan, due to give birth in March, has suddenly started to pass wind with eye-watering force, trumping with a venom I’ve not heard since visiting my Aunt Jessie in her nursing home just after the residents had been given sprouts for dinner.
She does them whenever she pleases, while watching television, eating dinner, or – more usually – just after we’ve got into bed.
The latter is particularly annoying as it means one cannot, under any circumstance, lift up the duvet cover for the remainder of the night.
Her excuse for this foul habit is that she is expecting a baby. I initially scoffed at this but, annoyingly, it seems she is right.
The average person, I discovered after a spot of research, passes wind 15 times a day, but pregnant women, apparently, almost double this figure.
The reason? When carrying a baby, a woman has higher levels of a nasty little hormone called progesterone, which relaxes muscle tissue throughout the body, including – crucially – the muscle tissue that aids digestion. In other words, it’s a bit looser and doesn’t work as well at keeping things in.
Throw into the mix the fact that there’s a baby wriggling around your belly, pushing and prodding on things, and it’s kind of easy to see why pregnant females have a tendency to – how can we put this? – let rip more often than their unpregnant counterparts.
But while I have sympathy, it doesn’t make it easy to live with someone in this state.
I have had to purchase a tin of air freshener for each room, and an extra-tight nose-clip which I use when Mrs Canavan is having a particularly bad day.
It seems unfair for living with someone who’s pregnant is already tricky enough.
For instance, I am already regularly ticked off for not being caring enough.
Mrs Canavan tells me at various points of the day that the baby ‘is kicking’ and encourages me to put my hand on her belly and feel it, to ‘be at one with it’.
However, every time I follow her orders and do this, absolutely nothing happens and after about 20 seconds I get bored with fondling her midriff and wander off to do something more interesting, like clean out the shed.
Mrs C then takes umbrage, claims I am not interested in her or the baby, and warns it will have a permanently detrimental effect on my father-child relationship. Which is, I can’t help but feel, a slight over-reaction to the fact that I refuse to sit with my hand on my wife’s belly.
Another side-effect of pregnancy is that she suffers – so she claims – from back-ache and regularly insists that I rub her to ease the pain. Which is normally fine but not when it’s halfway down the yoghurt aisle in Tesco, as happened the other day.
Mrs Canavan, now heavily pregnant and the size of an Ikea wardrobe (and just as helpful with everyday household chores as one), suddenly stopped just past the milk and butter and leant against the fridge wincing while I pressed her back in a way I thought might be vaguely helpful and prayed – as I was stood directly behind her – that she didn’t pass wind.
‘Excuse me,’ said a harassed-looking middle-aged woman with huge gold ear-rings. ‘Could I reach around you and get a four-pack of Ski Mousse with Apricot and Raspberry fruit pieces please?’
A few minutes later – with me still massaging Mrs C – a security man appeared to ask if we were OK.
I suspect he was not at all concerned about our well-being and more worried we were about to carry out an unusual and audacious shoplifting theft, though we’d surely have gone to the television aisle – and not dairy – had this been the plan.
Eventually the back pain eased and we paid for our goods and left the store, Mrs C flatulating wildly all the while.
Ironically, and as an end to this tale, our young nephew bought us a whoopee cushion for Christmas, the one gift above all others that we really didn’t require.