I state the following with no animosity at all -- if anything I say it with respect and admiration: my ex-wife Arlene is a pain-in-the-ass.
How is that a compliment you may ask -- let me explain.
My ex-wife Arlene is a pain-in-the-ass but not to me (well, not all the time). She is a pain-in-the-ass to the customer service rep who doesn't give her the correct information. She is a pain-in-the-ass to the clerk at the college who didn't process our son's registration on time. She is the pain-in-the-ass that, when not given the answer she wants, will not hesitate to say, "Let me talk to your supervisor". And she is the pain-in-the-ass parent who would march passed the nurses' station to get the right answer when her child is sick (think Shirley MacLaine in 'Terms of Endearment' but with more crazy).
A few days before my son Alexander's first birthday (he turns 21 this January) he had a fever and his chest was congested. Arlene took him to the doctor and spoke to "Old" Dr. Russo who assured her that he only had a cold and that he would be fine in a few days. Well, those few days passed and he still didn't feel better so Arlene went back to "Old" Dr. Russo who told her told again that she was worrying for nothing; it was a cold and it would pass. The next day Arlene dropped Alexander off at the babysitter's house (our neighbor). Just as Arlene arrived at work the babysitter called and told her that Alexander had a fever and that every time he tried to lie down in his crib to sleep he would cough uncontrollably and then would bolt back upright. Arlene went back and picked up Alexander and once again went back to the pediatrician. The helpless nurse never really had a chance of stopping Arlene as she blew passed her and into the back offices. She ignored "Old" Dr. Russo who stepped out of an examination room to see what all the commotion was about. In short order she found "Young" Dr. Russo who told her to calm down and directed her into an empty room. After his quick examination of Alexander he turned to Arlene and said, "You have to get him to the hospital... now".
Of course I was blissfully ignorant of all that happened that morning as I sat at my desk in my relatively new job as a computer programmer. That bliss was shattered when the phone rang and I heard Arlene's voice jump out of the handset even before I had a chance to say hello.
"Alexander is in the hospital and I'm pregnant!"
When you pick up your phone in the middle of the work day, and your wife is on the other end with some bad news you expect it to be, 'the car won't start' or 'the bank bounced a check' or 'the cat is looking at me funny again -- I think she knows' and not that you have one child in the hospital and another on the way.
To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I mumbled some explanation to my boss (my new boss) then drove to the hospital. I found my way to the pediatric ward where Arlene stood outside of Alexander's room; through the glass wall I could see him in a bed under an oxygen tent. He looked peaceful as he was finally able to fall asleep.
Arlene then told me everything that had happened and now that I knew that Alexander was okay I turned my interest to the "I'm pregnant" part of our earlier conversation.
Alexander had a Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) that required him to be placed in an oxygen tent and treated with ribavirin, a drug that could have negative side effects in woman who are pregnant which Arlene was not (at least she wasn't when I left for work that morning).
As they prepared Alexander under the oxygen tent, and before they started pumping in the drug, one of the nurses turned to Arlene and asked, "Are you pregnant?" to which Arlene answered "No".
"Are you sure?" the nurse asked.
Arlene, whom I'm sure was thinking, 'Of course I would know if I was pregnant now leave me alone with my son' (she was more likely thinking: 'What are you f*cking deaf?' But I digress).
"Well," the nurse continued, ignoring Arlene's apparent dismay, "let's take a blood test just to be sure."
And that, my friends, is how we found out that Arlene was pregnant.
For the next two nights I slept on a makeshift bed (two chairs pushed together) in Alexander's room. We celebrated his 1st birthday with some balloons tied to his bed and a cake we shared with the nurses as Arlene peered at us through the glass like a hungry cat staring longingly through a Fish Market window.
Upon his release we were told there may be some long term effects from the virus and that he might develop asthma later in life, but so far Alexander is fine. At least I think he is fine, he doesn't really talk much (maybe that was the long term effect).
Arlene is still a pain-in-the-ass, which works out for me since COMCAST recently charged me for a pay-per-view event that I had not ordered. Oh, those poor people at COMCAST have no clue what I am about to be unleash on them.