As my wife Susanne and I rapidly approach the birth of our first child, I thought nothing would preserve the moment more, than by sharing this sacred, most personal event with total strangers. Well actually, a better way would have been to record a live webcast of the birth on the Internet, but that’s been done before, and frankly, the missus would have castrated me. That said, I hope you enjoy our journey into parenthood.
We just turned the corner on six months into the pregnancy, and some of the symptoms are starting to take shape. The cramps, the constipation, the glutinous eating, the swelling belly, laziness, fatigue and horrible gas. Susanne is seeing some changes as well. Twenty-four short weeks ago (it’s a law to speak in weeks when you’re pregnant), my wife loathed water – detested the sight of it. Shot her middle finger to the sky when it rained and grimaced when brushing her teeth. That was 24 weeks ago. Now she’s on the cover of Water Aficionado magazine guzzling a 33-ouncer. Inside she offers tips on “How to Love Your Water when Your Water Doesn’t Love You Back.” She’s buying Poland Spring by the boatload and started wearing gun holsters where she keeps mini bottles stored at all times. That water is too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry, too pasty, too chlorine-tasting, too slippery, too syrupy, too crunchy, too salty, too bland, too lead-infested. She will only drink the finest of waters from the finest arctic glaciers in the world.
Personally I think it all tastes the same. But guys, heed my warning. What you think “right” has no consequence. You are the bringer of things. That is what you are and that is what you will be for a while yet. In that sweet little pregnant whimper of hers, she squeaks, “Carey, I’m soooooo thirsty. Can you get me a glass of water? Can you hand me that Baby magazine?” “You mean the one two inches out of your reach?” “Yes, honey that’s the one.” Can you get me a pillow? Can you bring the bathroom over here on the couch? Can you get me another glass of water? No, I wanted it in the blue glass. Can you pour some fresh water in the blue glass? Can you? Can you? Can you?” Suck it up guys, she deserves it. There are some bizarre things going on in her body, and she’s valiantly hauling a little critter in there. How would you like it if one day you woke up and all your organs were pushed up just beneath your throat and then rearranged like old furniture? I’m tempted to bring the hose in through the house and just fire the stream into her mouth every forty minutes. Maybe if it was tapped into an Evian tank. I’ve threatened to give her a blindfolded taste test to prove that all water tastes the same. (My money is on the toilet water.)
When you’re sitting in a doctor’s office watching your unborn fetus doing backstrokes in your wife’s amniotic fluid while a stranger is probing her belly with some Alien-like goop, you start to sense the surrealism. When my baby appeared on the ultrasound monitor I lost all motor skills and regressed to a two-year-old’s vocabulary. That is, once I was able to pick my jaw up off the floor. DEEEEEET! I shouted, pointing excitedly at the screen. DEEEEEET! “Um, yes Mr. Potash, those are your baby’s feet.” Twenty-four weeks is also the time when pregnesia sets in. (pregnesia – (noun) sudden inability to recognize or articulate everyday household items.)
“Carey, your brother is on the , uh, um…. He’s on the, uh, white plastic thing with buttons. You know, the ringing thing you can talk in to on one end and hear someone speaking from the other?”
“That’s the one. Bingo.”
Also, prepare in advance for all of the things she will misplace.
“I can’t find those metal, jingly things we use for starting the car. I searched all over the, uh, structure where we live. Oh, there they are. Never mind! I found them here in the big box that keeps the food cold.”
Leaving the ob-gyn after seeing the ultrasound, we were struck with the wonderful realization that we were really having a baby. With this knowledge, an issue of great weight and importance filtered through our spinning heads. A decision that will mold our little meatball into the man or woman he or she will become. A theme for the baby room. From the get-go, Susanne was heavily endorsing Beatrix Potter’s classic Peter Rabbit and Friends. There are actually some cute friends in the tales. Pimpish Piglet and Fascist Froggie are two of my favorites. But still, I resisted at first, offering other suggestions such as Nightmare Before Xmas, Gerald Potterton’s graphic animated movie Heavy Metal or The Shining. She says a stuffed Scatman Crothers doll with an axe in his back hanging from the corner of the nursery would be too frightening for the little nipper. She’s crazy. What kind of a wuss are we raising any way? I said we’d use fake blood. Must be the pregnesia talking. (Hell, I’d even settle for The Giving Tree theme. It would certainly be cost-effective. Just stick a tree in the baby’s room and chop some branches off every few days.)
The Journey Continues, or “Changing diapers isn’t included in the medical plan?”
It’s 28 weeks now, and Lamaze classes have begun. From the size of Susanne’s girth, I am willing to accept that not only is there a two-pound baby in there, but perhaps a small city as well. Call off the search, Atlantis has been located. Anyway, Lamaze classes have begun and according to the score sheet, I’m winning. Susanne says I can’t be winning because it’s not a competition. I disagree. I came to class with my game face on, nailing every question the instructor fired at us. We were asked to identify various parts of the female anatomy. Cervix! Uterus! Bladder! I couldn’t be stopped. After each correct response I got right in the other fathers’ faces, trash-talking the three dumbfounded guys. “Get off, punk! You got nuthin’!” I shouted, spit flying like a sprinkler. Which reminds me…maybe you can settle an argument. Susanne says that when I lowered my shoulders and tackled one of the other fathers like a linebacker, it was “mortifying” and “unjustifiably aggressive.” What else could I do? He was about to correctly point out the birth canal on the cardboard diagram. It’s just part of the game, I said. What game? She said. Forget it, I said. You wouldn’t understand. You’ve never played organized sports like I have.
When the instructor pointed to the rectum on the diagram, the room went completely silent. Crickets and tumbleweeds. It was understood that we all knew damn well what she was pointing to, but who had the nerve to say it? Not me. I couldn’t find the strength. Frustrated, the instructor said, OK fine, I’ll say it if no one else wants to – RECTUM. I kept my eyes focused and my lips taut while she said the word, but inside my juvenile head, I heard Homer Simpson giggling like a schoolgirl (he-he). My shining moment. My immaculate reception – the one for the highlight films – was answering correctly how much amniotic fluid was in the uterus. To the astonishment of the instructor, the class and especially the wife, I said one quart. I have to admit it was a total guess. Seriously, I just pulled it right out of my – um – rectum (he-he).
Brooklyn’s In The House
Some people shouldn’t be allowed to procreate. Especially if they have diabolic designs to doom the child with an absurd name. Victoria “Posh Spice” Adams and British soccer star David Beckham decided to name their newborn baby boy Brooklyn. Wait, here’s the clever part. They named him Brooklyn because they were in New York when they learned of Posh being pregnant. From inside their shiny limousine, I’m sure Brooklyn seemed like a fine place. But let’s be honest. It’s a cesspool. It’s one big, vile port-a-potty. I just looked up “Brooklyn” in my handy dandy baby names book. As suspected the name is Teutonic, meaning “shit hole” or “hole for shit.” Why bother with nicknames? They should go right to its origin and call the lad Shit Hole Spice or Shit Hole Beckham if it pleases. When Brooklyn is 18 years old, the Spice Girls will be in their forties. Let’s conjure up that image for a moment. Aging Spice Girls with layers of pasty makeup to cover their wrinkles and patches of spongy cellulite creeping down their legs. Lip-synching their songs at the local Elk’s Lodge to crotchety old farts for $50 a night (drinks not included). Just think of all the “old spice” jokes that will surface. Isn’t this fate punishment enough for young Brooklyn? Coincidentally, Scary Spice has also given birth recently and named her child Phoenix. This, I’m told, is because Scary once received a postcard from a friend who was visiting Arizona. Never to be off the pulse of hipness for more than three seconds, Susanne and I will follow this trend and name our child Shop Rite Potash since that is where we bought all 12 pregnancy tests. Or better, Saturn Potash – the vehicle that took us there. Saturn Potash. You know, that’s not half-bad. It’s got sort of a Zappa-esque charm. Let me try it on for size: “Saturn! Saturn, stop it! Do you here me? Give your brother his bong back. It’s not yours. Stop teasing your brother! You have your own bong. Leave his alone!”
Yes, I think it flows very nicely.
The Dreaming – B. Real and the Bear
Baby dreams have come in herds for Susanne. Me? I finally had my first one the other night, and it was horrifying. A nightmare. As the doctor plopped my squiggly newborn son in my arms, my eyes went fixed upon a neon-green see-through beeper somehow attached to the skin on his hip. Still I squeezed the little fella up to my chest, ecstatic with the wonderment of fatherhood. He resisted my squeeze, saying “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Pops, I gotta get this,” pointing to the beeper that was incessantly beeping away. “I gotta call my boyz back,” he continued. Still Susanne and I stared at him lovingly and told him that we had thought long and hard about a name and have finally decided to call him….” – “Save your breath pops, I already go by the name B. Real. My boyz call me B.” “What boyz?” I demanded. “You’re only 12 seconds old!” “Yo, that’s cold Pops. If you can’t respect me or my boyz, I’m moving out.” “But you’re still attached to the umbilical cord,” I insisted. My dream morphed into the usual one where I’m in bed with Agent 99 from Get Smart on one side and Daisy Duke on the other. And as usual, a dagger-like elbow to my spine awakens me from my slumber. “Carey, honey, can you get me a glass of water?”
Susanne’s dreams are a bit more abstract. In her latest, she was sitting in a cafeteria caring for two babies. One was a girl with freaky little black eyes shaped like marbles. The other baby by her side was a tiny baby bear. The assumption was that they were hers. Ours. Soon I came by and started affectionately wrestling with the small bear. After a short growl, Susanne warned me that I had better leave because the bear didn’t like me. Alright all you psychoanalysts – get crackin’.
Well, the big dance is June 4. If I’m not knee-deep in baby poo, I’ll let you know how turns out.