Wednesday, November 08, 2006

 

In Which We Push the Envelope...

Two weeks ago:


"Oh God!" Her Lovely Self cried. "This is terrible."

Given the position she was in, this exclamation could have covered a range of issues:

--The fact that she was lying on a cold, vinyl slab, legs up in stirrups, naked from the waist down.

--The fact that we were there in an exam room for worrisome genetic testing of the kind doctors like give you when you're pregnant and over the age of 35.

--The fact that she was awaiting the administration of said testing by a doctor who we had met exactly 180 seconds earlier.

--The fact that in another 180 seconds that doctor--a total stranger, really--would be mucking about with antiseptic swabs and applying a supremely disquieting device to her nethers, the kind of device I'm pretty sure I last saw at the International Museum of Torture.

--The fact that I was sitting right next to her, uttering my trademark Unhelpful Comments like: "Wow, this room is freezing. I'm so glad I'm wearing corduroys." or "Holy crap! Is that the speculum? Jesus, it looks like a cross between the Terminator and Daffy Duck!" or the hands-down winner, "Man, I remember once when I had a rectal exam, so I totally feel for you."

But no, it turned out my bride was agonizing over the two flimsy pictures we were given of our new Cheeto. Actually, less of a Cheeto, more of a Jumping Bean. Only minutes earlier, we were treated to our first ultrasound of the new kiddo, and I was secretly pleased to find the baby so animated. I mean, like really animated. Like it had made a Starbucks run early that morning and got back before we woke up. Even Thomas--who spent his ultrasound yawning and stretching and sucking his thumb (but not before poking himself in the eye with it)--had nothing on the Bean.

The secretly pleased part came when the ultrasound technician couldn't draw a bead on the Bean and started sliding her sensor thingy all over HLS's abdomen, like a harried maid trying to hoover up a skittering bug. "Jeez, this baby won't sit STILL!" she finally huffed. And then glared at me (WTF?)

That's my boy, I thought. Or girl.

Her Lovely Self, though, had no doubt in her mind. As soon as she saw the Bean flop out of the shot, she started moaning.

"You see that? He's even worse than Thomas!"

"He?" I asked mildly. HLS has accurately predicted the genders of both of our previous offspring.

"Of course it's a boy! Another boy!" she wailed. Tears welled up in her eyes, then trickled down her cheeks and into her ears.

"Um, hello. Boy here," I said. "Not seeing the problem. You already have a boy and he was--"

"--a total fricking nightmare!!" she blurted, then grabbed my hand. "But don't ever tell anyone I said that."

"Promise," I said solemnly.

Although it must be said, my wife was absolutely right. Thomas's infancy was such a torture he should have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention. At night, he slept in increments of 40 minutes. For four months. He would wake up for good at 4:45. Every morning. For two years. And never mind whizzing in the faces of every single person who changed him. If he could, he'd spray your clothes with baby shit too. Despite every recommended remedy, the child was so gassy, I used to fall asleep--Thomas did too--with him draped over my shoulder, my arm cramped in the wizened Burping Claw position. And here's the thing: he'd burp in his sleep (and those were the solid burps that left me glued to the couch by the back of my shirt). And still the gas kept coming. I once witnessed him blow a secured diaper down to his ankles with a single gas-powered load of high-velocity baby poop.

So upon reflection, I guess I could understand her anxiety.

"Well," I offered lamely. "It could be a girl. Just a really hyper girl."

"Oh shut up!" she said. And then our 180 seconds were up and the doctor walked in, already snapping his latex gloves in place.

During the test, the ultrasound technician took me aside and said, "After this, I suggest you take her out for a gooey dessert. Something with chocolate. Lots of chocolate."

I nodded, taking this in. "But won't that make the baby even jumpier?" I asked.

She looked at me. "Honey, I don't see how that's possible."


One week ago:


We were still waiting for the results from the genetic testing which would, as it turned out, confirm the presence of all necessary chromosomes in the baby (yay!). But the test results would also tell us if any one of those chromosomes happened to start with a Y. HLS had been dithering all week with the idea of knowing the baby's gender before the due date, which would be part of the information contained in the genetic test report, although that specific detail would be in a sealed envelope separate from the rest of the report. I didn't see what the big deal was. HLS had already confirmed in her mind that she was having a boy, so why worsen her day by opening the envelope and making it empirical?

Still, she wanted to talk about it. A lot.

"I think I'm going to throw out the envelope when it comes," she said one morning.

I didn't respond.

"Well, say something. You think it's a bad idea, don't you? Why aren't you saying anything?" she asked.

I wasn't saying anything because it was 3:12 in the morning and I wasn't anything even close to conscious. Not for another 4 seconds anyway.

Once sufficiently elbowed awake, I sluggishly agreed, although in my semi-lucid state, I was under the impression we were having the conversation in the car.

"Mrmmmakes sense a me honey. Oh. Stop sign up ahead," I muttered. "Aferall, we din't get a nvelope brrfore thuther two. We don' need no stinkin' nvelope. But it's whatevvrrr you wan'do, honey. Shit! Turn right here! Right! RIGHT! Hrrrr..."

So it was settled.


Two days ago:


My mom called me down from the attic, where I was attempting to fix a length of coaxial cable that was causing our upstairs TV to broadcast abstract art.

"I think you'd better go outside and talk to your wife," she called up. And she was using her Mom Voice.

I looked down through the attic hatch.

"Why?"

"She's crying," Mom said, then paused. "And she has a pitchfork," she added.

Well, I didn't exactly sprint out there as fast as I might have, but I eventually made my way to the back yard, where I found my bride hurling mulch around the flowerbed--and occasionally into the neighbor's yard--and making disturbingly loud snuffling noises.

"What's the matter?" I asked. From a pitchfork's distance away.

"You are!" she cried. It's kind of a stock answer for her these days. "It was your stupid idea! We should never have opened that envelope!"

"But...but...but you wanted to know for sure," I said, attempting to reason with her. (A bad move, by the way.) "You told me to open it."

She threw the pitchfork down and it stuck in the dirt, wobbling. "But I didn't know it would be A GIRL!" she bawled.

I'd like to tell you I ran to my lovely pregnant wife and comforted her. But the truth is I was so fucking confused right then I didn't know whether to move towards her or turn and run away as fast as I could.

When I finally summoned the courage, I put an arm around her and said, in my teeniest, tiniest voice, "But you were all freaked out when you thought it was a boy. You--"

"I GOT USED TO THE IDEA, ALL RIGHT?!? I'M ALLOWED!!"

"Okay, that's right. Of course, that's true. You're allowed," I said, not really knowing what to say. "But-- but the Brownie was easy compared to Thomas, so I thought you'd be happy with another girl."

It's true. I hate to sound remotely like I'm advancing a gender stereotype here, but the Brownie was a perfect little baby. She scarcely cried (so long as I wasn't holding her. For some reason, I freaked her out). She slept like a log. She rarely woke up before 7. And to my knowledge she never caused the structural integrity of a diaper to fail.

"It's not the baby part I'm worried about. It's the rest!" HLS said between sobs. "Our other daughter already mouths off to me. She never listens to me. You're her favorite. She hates ME!" I thought this was overstating it a bit (except the part about me being the favorite) but it didn't seem the right time to even appear that I was going to open my mouth and say so.

"This one's going to be just the same, you see," she went on. "They'll both hate me. And wait til they get their periods--"

Oh God, I can wait. I CAN WAIT! I thought.

But just then, thank God, Her Lovely Self seemed to lose some steam, seemed to have ridden the crest of whatever emotional tsunami had just hit.

An awkward silence descended on us. And all I could think was, It's gonna be a long six months.

But what I said was, "Um. Hey. There's still some chocolate caramel pie in the fridge. You, uh, you want some?"

HLS looked at her pitchfork, then at me.

"Yeah, okay. With whipped cream."

I couldn't get to the kitchen fast enough. And as I ran, one thought went through my head:

Thank you, ultrasound technician.

Yours,
From Somewhere on the Masthead


Comments:
You better keep that fridge well stocked, MM. Keep cocoa powder in the cupboard for times when you're out of pre-made chocolate products. And chocolate chips, but hide them from her—you never know when you'll need that emergency supply.
 
Hmmm....I have no experience with pregnant women, really, but I think that keeping lots of chocolate syrup on hand is probably a good idea, MM. Oh, and glad that everything is going well with your latest production so far.
 
The only problem with keeping the fridge stocked with chocolate (or in my case, a freeze with a near constant supply of chocolate ice cream) is that she may find herself gaining 30lbs of baby weight and 30lbs of chocolate weight. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...

Girl babies rock. Pregnancy hormones suck. Here's hoping things get better soon :)
 
awwwww, congratuations on another little girl.. sweet!!

personally, I had an obsession with grape slushies from Sonic.
 
Yeah! Remind her that the gender balance will always be in her favor so when the girls gang up against the boys the girls will always win! Woohooo!
 
Lots and lots of chocolate, the dark kind. And heating pads. And foot rubs. And flowers for no reason at all. All this, and more because you know you'd give her the world on a silver platter if you could. You say it between every line of your post.

Thanks for letting us in on your happiness.

Ignatz

btw: i think the phrase "the structural integrity of a diaper" is the funniest thing I've read all year.
 
Poor HLS...
Great that she's making another baby for you two; not so great that she has to be pregnant to do it. :)

"But don't ever tell anyone I said that." Sheesh.

With Katy, it wasn't chocolate; it was LEMONS. I could not eat enough fresh lemons. I used to slice them into wedges and bite right in. Mind you, my teeth have never been the same since, but oh well. With Bobbie, it had mellowed somewhat into an unquenchable craving for Newman's Own lemonade. Harmless enough, but, alas, it simply HAD to be accompanied by sushi. Tuna rolls with Kimlan soy sauce...

So, randomly grab a carton of lemonade next time you're at the store, and see if/how fast it disappears. That's not to undercut the judicious use of gooey chocolate desserts, of course. To this day, I have times when I simply live by Dove-brand milk chocolate bars.
 
That's funny ... I bet it is even funnier for my husband.

We also refer to our baby as the Bean!
 
Hooray for a new little girl!! Maybe this one's nickname will be Caramel? Hehe...

Poor HLS...I know my hormones already make me a wreck. God will have to help everyone around me when I get pregnant some day.
 
The problem with keeping a house stocked with chocolate products is that you will gain as much weight as HLS. At least, I know I would. And, see, she'll give birth and lose some of that weight, while you...

Best not to dwell on it. Have some chocolate.
 
While I have no small spawn of my own (as of yet), rest assured that I am most definitely filing away these pearls of wisdom.

... just in case.
 
So will the Brownie have a rival or a minion?

I hope HLS realises that sooner or later she'd learn it's a girl anyway.
 
Hahaha, boy, your stories both amuse and terrify me. I don't plan to join the father game for a few years yet and I know the experience is different from person to person, child to child, but I'll be paying close attention to your experiences just the same.

Congratulations on having your secong daughter and best wishes on surviving this whole thing :-)
 
Most fabulous! Poor HLS. Ditto on the stocking of chocolate and deliciousness. I also wonder how the Brownie will take it.

When's the due date?
 
Glad to hear things are going well so far, MM. Sounds like patience and treats will serve you well.
 
patience and treats? Did you get another dog?
 
Give her chocolate.... AND ANYTHING ELSE HER LITTLE HEART DESIRES for the next 6 months. And stay out of pitchfork range,'cause I'll bet HLS has a wicked arm. Congrats!
 
"Thank you, ultrasound technician."

XD
 
Congrats on the news of another little lady in the house. And, really...we aren't all alike. Some of us actually like our mothers. (Well, some ladies I know of like their mothers...but we had overly neurotic mothers and HLS isn't like that.) In fact, my brothers son never got along with his mom (from the moment he was born, I'm not kidding.) And their daughter has always been close to her mom. So keep the faith...

Tell her to project lots of love and peace to her tummy and stop being nervous (oh, right...like you can tell her what to do at this stage)...seriously...baths with candles, lots of peaceful music, lots of lotion on the tummy...it makes a difference. My friend told me so.
 
The hormones should level out in a few weeks and it won't be so bad. That first trimester is a bitch though.

Yes...lot's and lots of chocolate.

This post gave me a good and much needed laugh MM.
 
I remember bursting into tears when my husband suggested it wasn't a good idea to get a kitten right at that time (I was about 3 months along with #1). Also, when he refused to stop for a burger(or was it a McDonald's chocolate shake?). With Ben I couldn't get enough ice cream (Xtra Fudge Brownie Delight only) or coconut cream pie, with Cameron it was salty stuff like chips and pretzels and really tart popsicles (summertime and pregnant with a big baby).
The good news is you've been through this twice before and you know you will survive!! Thinking of you all and glad its not us!
Alison
 
Um...Two teenage daughters right now...13 and 16. Well, all I can say is hold on to your horses..and teach thomas to run...fast..and to get fond of earplugs or loud ipods. We all "cycle" at the same time...Tell HLS having your daughter hate you some times is a bage of honor..a reward every good mother must endure. Be proud and strong.Good luck...and just keep HLS focused on the cute girl baby clothes...that should help for a bit...and brownie needs a sister. Thomas has you. It will be great fun! Parts of this post were so funny...I snorted. sorry.
 
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