Wednesday, March 22, 2006


In Which We Are Made Redundant...

Boy have I been a busy little bee.

In more ways than one. Know what I mean?

(What? If I didn't say it someone else would.)

Her Lovely Self had a blood test yesterday. Another one. She's due for another one tomorrow. Pretty routine, but as always I'm curious for the results.

Meanwhile, I've been opening my own veins at work, or I'm ready to. February was my Super Editor month (or is that Stupid Editor?). The first week of the month, the week my grandfather died, I did a week's worth of work in about a day-and-a-half. By which I mean I finished some things that would absolutely have to be finished while I was gone and everything else got the editorial equivalent of spit and bailing wire til I got back.

Then I got back and had just shy of two weeks to catch up from the week before AND to get ahead so that I could actually enjoy my vacation. Rock? Meet Hard Place. Hard Place? Rock. This time, in addition to triage editing and spit and bailing wire, I had to resort to groveling and got another editor to agree to handle something important for me while I was in Florida.

And of course we know how Florida turned out.

Then, as if that wasn't the cherry on the cake of my month, I ended up in the hospital. But while I was there, my assistant and two editors (I'm supposed to have three, but I'm down one right now) braced themselves to go into my office and try to make sense of what I'd left. My assistant was astonished by what she found. Individual stacks of stories or assignment instructions or fact-checking changes or layouts for approval, all in order, ready for anyone--a chimp, even--to move along so the issue could get out without me slowing things down.

"You had everything all lined up for us. I had no idea you were so organized,"
my assistant said when I started going back to work on half-days. "You know, you picked the best time to be in the hospital," she added. Which made me smile (laughing still causes coughing fits). Because of course there was a reason I ended up in the hospital, and part of it was working myself to such a tiny nub, you couldn't tell the difference between me and the eraser end of a #2 pencil after the SATs.

And so now, back to work full-time, the turbine whine begins once more and the engines beneath my life pick up speed and I start the endless treadmill run again.

Which I don't mind. Because I've got that Feeling.

I first had the Feeling in 1998 when we discovered Thomas was on his way, and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Which made it hard to articulate, but I gave it a game stab in a letter to a friend:

When it all clicked together, it was sudden and sickening and exciting too, like getting in line for the tea cup ride and discovering, too late, that you're on the Vomit Comet Coaster.

Her Lovely Self came home from work, dog-tired. She's been dragging all week and complaining that she's coming down with something. Then she said something else: "And the weirdest thing is, I have to pee every 30 seconds."

It was like that moment in the movies when the hero recalls the off-hand remark mentioned by some passing character 90 minutes earlier. As soon as the words left her mouth, I remembered the focus group I was at just a few weeks earlier, and how all the women got to talking about their kids. And everyone was trying to trump everyone else with their pregnancy horror stories. "Oh, I had such bad cravings, I ate a bar of soap and my dog's squeaky toy." "Oh, honey, that's nothing. I had morning sickness so bad I threw up the bowling ball my Dad had lost in 1963." You know, like that.

And in the middle of it, this one quieter woman simply said, "Gosh, I didn't have anything like you guys. All I did was pee constantly. And that was before the baby got so big that he was pushing on my bladder."

And all the women nodded. Someone said it was something about hormones in the first trimester. And all the women nodded.

I sat up so fast Her Lovely Self screeched. "What's the matter?" she asked.

"You're pregnant," I said evenly.

"Oh, don’t be stupid," she said. "I probably just have a bladder infection."

"No," I said. "You're pregnant. The peeing. The fatigue."

"But I haven't been nauseous at all. Except today, when I was late going to lunch."

"Pregnant!" I cried.

And while she protested, I put on my coat and shoes. "Where are you going?" she asked.

"I'm buying the pee-on-a-stick test."

They were actually having a 2-for-1 deal on them at the CVS (I don't even want to know why). So I bought two and brought them straight home. Total elapsed time from doorstep to pharmacy and back: 90 seconds.

But I had been gone long enough that Her Lovely Self had started to think and she looked pale.

"Do you really think--?" she began.

I ripped open a box and shoved a cellophane wrapped test at her. "Go pee on this."

We went upstairs to the bathroom. I waited in the hall, but I couldn't help myself. I poked my head in.

"What are you doing?!?" she asked.

"I just want to make sure you're doing it right."

"Yeah, like you've had any experience," she said.

The instructions were simple: pee on the stick. Cap the stick, set the stick down and check it in about two minutes.

Her Lovely Self did her thing, then gingerly set the test on top of the toilet tank. Then we both ran from the bathroom as though she had just lit a fuse to one big honking stick of dynamite (and I suppose she had).

We waited in the guest room, the nearest room from the bathroom. She stood there, eyes wide, looking at me. I stood there, counting "One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand." But I lost count so I grabbed my watch.

A minute went by. Still we stood, silent in the guest room. Presently, the cat came along, gave us both A Look, then jumped up on the guest bed and sat there, watching us watching each other. Her expression seemed to say, So, what are we doing?

"I'm gonna go check," she said. Her Lovely Self. Not the cat.

"But it's only been a minute and 10 seconds. The instructions said--" I called after her, but she was already heading to the bathroom and I had to run to reach the doorway the same time as she did.

From the door, we could see the results there on top of the toilet tank. One big fat plus.

"Pregnant," I whispered.

"oh My GOD!" Her Lovely Self cried, screaming so loud she made the cat flee back downstairs. "What have we DONE? What have we DONE?!?" she shouted over and over.

Suffice it to say, she needed some time to adjust.

That was yesterday. I really haven't slept since then. Because now I keep thinking, What have we done? albeit in quite a different tone of voice than HLS used.

As you know, in my line of work, I've interviewed a lot of guys and experts about a lot of health issues, especially sexual health. And I remember a doctor talking about how you never know how some guy will react the first time he finds out his wife is pregnant. A lot of guys just strut and act weirdly self-centered. Their first reaction isn't "We're pregnant!" Their first reaction is "I'm potent! My army has invaded Egg Harbor and conquered all!" Some men freak and skip town--they can't bear the responsibility. Others get sympathy symptoms: morning sickness, abdominal swelling, the works. The doctor said the oddest ones were the guys who refused to believe the kids was theirs. It wasn't that they thought their wives were stepping out on them, the doctor hastened to add. It was just that they couldn't believe they were actually capable of doing something as monumental as contributing to the making of another human being.

I've had none of those reactions, and that's the oddest thing of all. Because knowing me, I'd have bet on the freaking out. Not freaking out enough to leave town, but certainly having some angst, you know?

Instead, when I got out of bed this morning, I had an emotion I can't say I've ever experienced before. Hell, I'm not even sure it was an emotion. I was sort of happy, sort of proud, but not in a yay-my-boys-can-swim kind of way. I wasn't smiling or skipping around on the sidewalk on my way to work or anything. To me, it just seemed that overnight the world had changed--or I had. Something had shifted, something tectonic and massive. But I wasn't feeling the shake-up of an earthquake. It was more like a giant puzzle piece falling from some great height and landing with perfect precision in the middle of an almost-completed puzzle.

The writer in me finally got closest to it: I had closure. A closure I never realized I needed or wanted. A most profound sense of closure. Perhaps the most profound sense of closure.

I think that's what it is. On a biological level. On a survival-of-the-species level. I think every strand of DNA in my body became strings of bubble lights. And somewhere inside me there's a voice that I can just barely hear, a voice as old as our ancestors, those monkeys in the trees.

And that voice is saying, "Mission Accomplished."

I have completed the big hail-Mary pass of genetics.

I am officially biologically redundant.

And I couldn't be happier.

Why yes, I have had several cups of coffee this morning. Why do you ask?

Funny thing is, that feeling went away after a while and I forgot about it. Til Her Lovely Self was pregnant with the Brownie. And then I forgot about it again. Til now. It's back. With a vengeance.

Mission accomplished.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Just proves that you were *meant* to be a Dad.

And when this little sprout is born, it will join Art Lad and The Brownie as one of the luckiest kids on earth.

Congratulations, again! :)

Good God! I started a new job and I leave you alone for 2 weeks, am home sick today and decide to catch up on my MM reading and..Good God! How in the world does all of this stuff happen to you!???? Just amazing the rollercoaster I have been on the last 45 minutes! Sorry about you being hospitalized and delirious enough to steal an airport cart. Kudos to the Brownie for being quick enough to cover for you, it's obvious who she takes after! And congrats on the new one on the way! As always, thanks for the great, big, crazy ass story.
first, congratulations to you and HLS!! a very nice surprise.

and second, you are now more than biologically redundant.. you will have 3 to replace you and HLS's 2 :-)
Extremely poignantly put.

Still wearing that big ass grin, no doubt.
My offhand remark came from an African American lady that I worked with. I was complaining of excessive fatigue and the need for naps when she said "Why honey, maybe you're pregnant!" 17 years ago I didn't have a CVS or a simple plus sign test. My positive test was blue water. Very blue water. My husband's (ex) reaction was "Good, now I know you won't leave me." HA! I showed him.
A thousand congratulations to you and yours. I'm at the age where a large portion of my girlfriends have tapered off the club life and are more interested in starting families. It must be something in the water...five of my friends are in various stages of pregnancy. Anyway, the best stories we share involve when the father was told (most of these guys are first time dads) Some of the reactions are priceless. The best is when the first thing out of their mouths is "how did this happen?"
Anyway Congrats again...have you told Brownie and Art Lad yet?
So great. Congrats again!! 3 kids.. wow. Can't even imagine how much busier you'll be. ;)
When we did the first test that revealed that I was pregnant, I bought five more before I was truly convinced. And even now that I'm due in a month, I'm sure that I'm going to be more than mildly shocked when an actual baby emerges.

So happy for you, HLS, the Lad and the Brownie.
mnHubby and I are preparing to have a baby. We're talking about it a lot and "praciticing." Can't wait for his reaction when it is positively true.
You are so measnt to be a dad, and a great one you are. Art Lad, Brownie and miniMM are lucky kids!
I can't wait until we hear what this child's nickname is going to be!!!...

Congrats again my friend!!!

I am so, so sorry...

Uh, wait, no I'm not.

Congrats, MM!
One more story in the litiany of lucky missteps that is your life. We should all be so lucky. Congrats!
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