Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Hafiz is pregnant! Finally! That is to say, his lady wife is pregnant, he isn’t.
Though he did have a part to play in this circumstance. After all this time.
And much to his own surprise.

[Hafiz isn’t his real name but a title. The word comes from a root meaning to protect, to vouchsafe, to guard, and is commonly applied to people who have memorized the Koran.]

Previously, Hafiz was remarkably uninformed about sex. This became fully apparent when he worried that after several years of marriage he and his lady wife still had no children.
His misfortune was a source of jest to his coworkers, and profound worry to his parents.

Hafiz is thirty two. His bibi (wife) is twenty four years old. They have been married for nearly five years.
He didn't understand why no pregnancy had resulted, despite what may very well have been exceedingly valiant efforts.

As it turns out, the young couple's approach to the matter was all wrong.

Unlike many Pakistanis, Hafiz had not consulted the internet to find out about sex, but he was probably just as ill-informed as many who have. Though he didn't know about the bust-sizes of Indian celebrities and American porno-actresses (extremely popular research subjects for many of his countrymen), he had NO clue about ovulation.


Once his lack of knowledge had become clear, I proceeded to delicately explain certain biological facts to him over coffee.

Menstruation usually lasts around three days. Then the body starts preparing for the next period, producing various hormones that lead to the development of an egg (ovum). The egg, which is so small as to be invisible (he knew that part) travels down a canal (fallopian tube) from the ovary (where it was produced) to the uterus (womb - we needed to look that up in an English-Urdu dictionary).
On average, it takes fourteen and a half days from the start of menstruation to arrival of the egg in the uterus. At which point, fertilization can take place.
If that does not happen, the egg breaks apart, and within two weeks the wall of the womb discards material that is no longer needed.


Yes, menstruation. Copious blood flow.

He blanched a bit.

I also clarified that there was a fair amount of variation possible. The fertile phase could happen as early as a week after the beginning of the menstrual period, or as late as three weeks, though most women will have it between a week and ten or eleven days after menstruation has stopped.

Contemplating menstruation made him somewhat greenish.

At which point, for my own entertainment entirely, I laid it on even thicker.

"Exceptionally young ladies, and women whose weight range is outside the norm - by which I mean far too thin, anorexic, OR too thick, like big automobiles - may experience irregularity."

Irregularity, in this case, means delayed menstruation, cycles that are either too slow or too fast, or may not happen at all - "She simply bloats up like sponge, swelling, swelling, swelling, then one day, boom!"

His eyes nearly exploded when I said that. Just a joke!

"And some women, my dear Hafiz, may have exceptionally heavy flows, prolonged cramps, or spotting..."

Apparently he didn't need to know that much.


Anyhow, what all this means is that healthy women who are already fully grown, and are within a normal weight range and not under a lot of pressure and stress, will have a regular cycle of roughly 27 or 28 days, like clockwork. Usually the same number of days each time, with only very minor variation.
At approximately the half way point, they will be fertile (for approximately less than 24 hours).

"Ergo, the first week after the period ends, and the last week before it happens again, are probably NOT ideal for you to go home and see your wife."

Hafiz spends most of his time in a hotel owned by his 'cousin-brother', and also works full time at another place in the city, as well as helping out in a friend's coffee shop.
His wife and parents live outside San Francisco.

I advised him that it might be best to take different days off.

The best chance of "winning the lottery" is about 10 days after it ends.

Dude, you really must pay more attention to these things.
It really would help if you knew more about your wife.
And her body. Especially how it works. Much more.

Women near ovulation experience changes in the cervix, in mucus produced by the cervix, and in their basal body temperature. Furthermore, many women also experience secondary fertility signs including Mittelschmerz (pain associated with ovulation) and a heightened sense of smell.
Many women experience heightened sexual desire in the several days immediately before ovulation. One study concluded that women subtly improve their facial attractiveness during ovulation and period.



Our conversation took place at the end of September.
I met Hafiz again yesterday evening.
This time I had to explain what the words 'mazel tov' mean.
Which was a lot less sticky.

They're expecting a little Hafiz in another five months.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Anonymous said...

I have found that if you grab your wife by the ankles and hold her upside-down after..It's kinda like seating a computer chip into it's socket and bingo the process of new life beings anew.

Kevin :-)

Tzipporah said...

"Menstruation usually lasts around three days."


If only. Dear BoTH, for most women, it lasts around 5 days. Some more, some less. But 3 is unusually short. Any previous practical experience of your own notwithstanding.

The back of the hill said...

”If only. Dear BoTH, for most women, it lasts around 5 days. Some more, some less. But 3 is unusually short. Any previous practical experience of your own notwithstanding.

I realized after I wrote that it might cause raised eyebrows. Several raised eyebrows.

There was a secretary at my father’s office back in the late sixties whose periods seemed to last a full week or more, necessitating time off. None of the engineers (all men) dared question that.
If, exceptionally, she hadn’t had a chance to stay home for several days, she’d have the flue later in the month. And sometimes yet another period.

My dad accidentally gave her the flue when he called her up one day. Apparently influenza travels along the telephone lines. Who knew?

Like all successfully manipulative types, she was quite intelligent.
Medical misinformation not withstanding.

greenly amphibious said...

Contemplating menstruation has always had a tendency to make me blanch.

The back of the hill said...

Not me. Menstruation is a beautiful and touching thing, and like many men I am glad it doesn't happen to most people.
Men. Children. Old folks.

We will just have to enjoy it from a safe distance.

juliette.bensimon said...

Please express my congratulations to the Hafiz family.

Menstruation also makes ma grand blanch, so I do understand how difficult these conversations can be.

Huzzah for regularity! said...

Menstruation is wonderful. A triumph of engineering over indiscreet body parts.

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