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Pregnancy Turned My Wife Into A Human Jenga Tower And I’m Not Winning The Game

Flickr / Martin Thomas

The following was syndicated from Medium for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at

There is a small child growing inside of my wife. It’s half me and half her. It’s a brand new life, a blank slate, a new beginning. It’s an amazing thing, but I wish this time felt as magical as they say it’s supposed to.

At Any Moment She Could Start To Feel Sick.
Let me break this down for you. My wife is in constant discomfort. She’s like a human Jenga tower, but at like an hour and a half into the game. When she wakes, she has to eat immediately, or she starts to feel sick. If she goes too long without eating, she starts to feel sick. If she eats too much, she starts to feel sick. If she takes her prenatal vitamin without a decently sized meal, she … you get the picture.

At Any Moment Her Back Could Start Spasming
About 6 weeks ago she threw out her back in a pretty severe way. I’m talking couldn’t-get-out-of-bed-at-all severe. She’s much better now, but this has limited the things she can do. As she goes about her day, her back starts to hurt. Picking things up off the ground is difficult. Lifting anything over 5 pounds is out of the question.

Water Is Flowing Through Her Constantly
She drinks so much water you guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if this kid came out with webbed feet. And for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, so she constantly has to pee.

She’s Always On The Verge Of Vomiting
And then there’s the vomiting. She’s only actually thrown up 2 or 3 times, but constantly sounds like she’s about to throw up. She’s been having nasal issues (common with pregnant women), which initiate her gag reflex. Roughly once every half hour she makes that familiar, disgusting sound. The sound that simultaneously makes me want to run to her aid and run for cover.

It’s so frustrating to watch this game happen and be unable to directly do anything.

At bedtime, the noises become constant. We’ve tried every remedy out there, and nothing seems to fix it. When we settle down for bed, there’s a solid 45 minutes of vomiting noises. No actual vomiting, mind you, just the sound that says, “this is it!” I ask kindly, “do you want me to get you a bowl?” to which she replies in a confused tone, “No, why?”

Remember the boy who cried wolf? Yeah, it’s like that, except instead of a boy it’s a pregnant woman, and instead of wolf it’s the sound of this afternoon’s chipotle bowl making it’s way back up her esophogus.

All of this (and perhaps the hormones as well) make her … how can I say this … occasionally not as kind as normal. I can’t blame her, I would be the same way if everything in my body were conspiring against me.

There’s a new life growing inside her, and it’s making her own life incredibly difficult. I wish there were some way to pass the responsibility to me, like we could take shifts. Right when we go to bed, I’d take the growing baby, go in the other room, and wrestle with this thing for a few hours before passing out. That way at least she’d get some sleep.

But, I’m afraid that’s not how it works. Women have it pretty rough. There’s no clocking out of this job. It’s just one thing after another trying to knock her over.

In this crazy, awful game of human Jenga, I’m not even involved. She’s the tower, and her body is being picked apart and rearranged by what seems like a drunk bro with flippers on his hands.

There’s a new life growing inside her, and it’s making her own life incredibly difficult.

As I look at my sweet, wonderful Jenga tower, I can see it’s wobbling. The baby is a terrible Jenga player. But, the tower rolls with the punches, teeters from side to side, and somehow doesn’t fall over. Watching my sweet, beautiful Jenga tower, it doesn’t seem like it should be able to stand, but miraculously it does.

It’s so frustrating to watch this game happen and be unable to directly do anything. I want to rush in and put all the pieces back where they’re supposed to be. I want to get that tower back to the way it used to be: more stable, less wobbly, and less prone to constant peeing.

But I can’t. That’s not the way this works. The only thing I can do is stand on the side as this freaking amateur Jenga player messes with my tower. I can’t rearrange pieces, I can’t intervene, and I can’t touch it (metaphorically or literally, trust me). All I can do is stand on the side, root her on, and take care of her the best I can.



I make her lots of food. I remind her to take her vitamins. I physically pick her up when she can’t stand on her own. I give her back massages. I get her a bowl even when she insists she’s fine and she’s not going to throw up. And I refill her water bottle literally 10 times a day.

I feel like Sam Wise Gamgee. “I can’t carry this burden for you, but I can carry you.” (I think that’s what Tolkien had in mind anyway.)

My wife is a human Jenga tower. Looking at it, it shouldn’t be able to still stand, but somehow it is. And as difficult as this time is, I love her more every day for it.

Brandon Shaw is a musician, writer, and podcaster.

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