Pregnancy can elicit the most elemental functions from the most sophisticated of subjects. One cannot avoid the ramifications of this fair condition despite her most conscientious efforts. A perpetrating trigger surprisingly attacks its victim, causing a bold physiological response that overpowers her control of bodily capacities. A sneeze results in wet underwear she hopes won’t show. Walking is a circus act trying not to pass gas with every step. Strong odors empower her inner witchability. Laughter begets tears. Crying fits ignite.
Traveling in this glorious state brings uncharted risk as well, such as the time my husband and I visited Paris for our last romantic vacation before bébé. Resting from sight-seeing, we observed the interior of the strobe light structure of La Géode as we waited in line for our first IMAX experience. Amongst the schedule of films with their exorbitant Euro prices lied a warning beneath our title, Water. Possessing a degree in French, I clearly understood the sign: “WOMEN WITHIN THEIR FIRST 22 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY SHOULD AVOID THIS MOVIE.” Why they chose 22 weeks I have no idea, it must be a metric unit for gestation. At 23 weeks along, I convinced the ticket lady observing my not-too-big-but-obvious bulge that I'd be fine.
We took our seats as the movie commenced with aerial views of lakes, oceans, waterfalls, and streams. My semi-worried husband queried my state and I reassured him I felt fine. Comfortably seated in the middle of our row, a few people occupied seats nearby. The visual experience was breathtaking as natural scenes completely surrounded us from all directions. Symphonic stereo water droplets, streams, waves, and lakes calmed our city-weary senses.
The cascades and waterfalls throughout the room eventually forced me to swallow. A small wave rose from my stomach and settled. Swallowing harder, I looked at my husband. Returning my view to the screen, the scene changed abruptly from the cascading falls to an aerial flyover of a beautiful river. The resulting roller coaster triggered my yes-I-am-definitely-pregnant-and-feel-nauseous switch. Swallowing my now lurching stomach, I spat words to my husband. Vaulting over seats I bumped knees with strangers. No time for apologies.
The restroom was upstairs. Too far. I spied a slotted garbage can in the hallway. (Slotted? Who’s responsible for the idea to use garbage cans without huge, unobstructed openings at an IMAX theater? Don't they know people vomit here?) Attempting to vomit into the mail slot opening I emptied my stomach of its unease, verifying most of the contents landed everywhere but in the garbage can. A sense of fight or flight crossed my mind: clean up dutifully with paper towels from the restroom, or book it out of there.
My loyal husband followed close behind me, embarrassed, disgusted, and anxious to leave the crime scene. We escaped mostly unnoticed and made our getaway to the nearest Métro station. The ill-effects of Water still with me, I swallowed my pride and my queasiness long enough to make it to our destination stop, barely. Running up the Métro stairwell to street level, I bent over behind a lamppost.
The hotel elevator charmed my stomach for the final round of the night. My husband kept a quiet vigilance during the episodes of the evening. His concern for me and the associated guilt of leaving body graffiti in strategic locations of Paris waned as the night lingered. Assured that I had regained dignified status he smirked at me, “Are you sure you understood that sign?”