Saturday, August 9, 2008

Week Two - Pregnant Out Loud

"My Wife's 300 - Gonadatropins on the march !"

The wife has been laughing out loud more.

This is just one of a few indicators that things are different. Ever since I've known her (going on almost twenty years now) the wife is a "laugh on the inside" kind of gal. I've gotten used to it, though it took a while for me to not take it personally when she didn't laugh at my jokes.

It's not entirely her problem. Most of my jokes aren't funny, but when I happen to crack a good one, it has to be an amazing joke for her to laugh out loud. Lately though, I'm batting a thousand. I think I have our unborn child to thank for that. Even more reason for me to be in love with this kid.

This last week has been filled with...stuff. We're waiting on our first OB-GYN appt to roll around later this month. We have lots of questions and it'd be nice to talk to a doctor about these things in person. There are some concerns, but mostly, we're trying to pin down just how far along she is and if her large Gonadatropin count (HCg) is because she's really far along, OR because there's more than one fetus in there.

Tuesday night we went out and bought lots of baby books, some serious ones, and a few funny ones. This week I've learned that my wife will be experiencing "heightened closeness" at this stage of her pregnancy, which is good for me. She smiles at me a lot, wants lots of hugs and kisses and is giving me plenty of attention. I'm taking it while I can get it. I'm expecting this to ebb and flow with her hormones, and fearing the time when she feels ugly or uncomfortable or just doesn't want me around. I am a big fan of "heightened closeness."

Also, there will be gas. Another thing the wife doesn't tend to do out loud.

At the bookstore, the wife showed me things I didn't want to see in a delivery book; swollen women bursting at the seams, excreting purple and white human-raisins, ugly and pissed-off, that look more like Quato from TOTAL RECALL than adorable bundles of joy.

Later, the wife shared with me that during the ninth month, she will need a pillow between her legs while she sleeps in order to relieve pressure on her pelvic bone. Apparently, much like a werewolf, my wife's pelvis will be transforming into a new shape, something resembling those gaping shark skulls you see at aquariums, allowing for a larger birth canal. She laughed when I told her she was going to be like a werewolf. Ah, the magic of "heightened closeness."

There've been a few times when she's felt weak this week, so we're keeping on her blood sugar and eating/snacking habits. I'm doing my best to calibrate my reactions to the situation. But when she feels weak or "off" as she puts it, inside I tend to jump into panic mode, but only on the inside. I think this process of moderating my tendency to over-react is going to be a challenge, but a good muscle to strengthen for the coming months and the raising of our little raisin baby, however ugly and pissed off it might be.

Work being so close is a huge blessing and I was able to actually pick her up some lunch (a sandwich, her fave) this week when work was slow and bring it home to her. It felt good. I was being the provider. I like that.

More and more people at work and where we live have heard our good news; the joy is contagious. I've even altered one of my HALO 3 profiles; from ZOMBIEgeddon to ZOMBIEdaddy. It's the best I can do. The wife refuses to entertain the idea of naming our first-born ZOMBIE. I think it'd be cool. She didn't agree. And she didn't laugh.

In little ways, our lives are changing. I'm trying to be more supportive, encouraging her and helping out with little things, tag-teaming with household responsibilities and dinners and such. We're sharing a car now, so we're having to coordinate our lives in a whole new way, which dove-tails nicely into our baby-making. We're a team.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It Begins

On Wednesday July 3oth, my life changed; I found out I'm going to be a father. And I was THRILLED.

My reaction was much more surprising to me than the news actually. I felt good about it; genuinely happy. In my experience, happy is hard work. My brain tends to spin the world around me into worst-case-scenarios that I then waste hours trying to circumvent emotionally, like climbing a mountain that isn't there.

But this news, this good news, has manged to flip-flop my built-in ass-backwards modus operandi. Instead of walking the Earth seeing the worst in everything and imagining horrific doomsday scenarios (it's what I do, I am a writer) I'm walking around with a big dumb smile on my face. I'm happy.

Wed. afternoon my wife had gone into the doctor's to get a pregnancy test. She'd done three take home test on Tuesday, and got positives on all of them. Needless to say I was a bit distracted at work. She called me just after 3 with the results and called me "Daddy" over the phone. It freaked me out. I loved it, but it freaked me out too.

She wanted to drive home (San Diego county) and tell our parents in person. I thought it was a great idea. She came by and picked me up from work and off we went on our 2 + hour trip south.
It gave us a plenty of time to talk, and there was plenty to talk about. First, the imperatives; how was the baby and how far along? She has yet to see an OB-GYN but we had some concerns. My wife had just been in a car accident (t-boned, jaws-of-life, only bumps and bruises, miracle) and we were concerned about her x-rays and cat-scan having an effect on the baby. Doc thought it was probably fine as by their calculation, the baby was only just forming. We'll know more next week.

Next, who do we tell? EVERYONE. We decided not to wait the customary 3 months before dropping the baby bomb on friends and family. I've had close friends and family go through the tragedy of miscarriage, and generally, they had been cautious, choosing not to share their good news with very many people. Then, when the worst happened, they had to explain their sadness, and give people the double-whammy; there was a baby, and now there isn't, all at once. This is a very personal thing, and my wife and I decided to share the joy while we had it to share.

Our take on it was if a baby is in need of something, is missing something (developmentally or otherwise), and 100 people know it exists, love it already, can't wait to meet it, and are sending the baby prayers and good thoughts from day 1, maybe it could make all the difference. And if not, then we've shared the gift as soon as we got it, and when we need help through that (God-forbid) tough and terrible time, friends and family can give that gift back, in love and support.

How do we tell? We went through some hilarious scenarios about how we could try and tell both sets of parents at once (fake birthday dinner, loaning lawn tools) by getting them together, but they all kind of fell through. We each called our parents and made casual conversation, trying to determine whether they would be home when we arrived and if both of them would be there, not letting on that we were together or that we were driving down at all. We knew that as soon as we said "We have some news" or "meet us for dinner, we have something we want to talk about," it was all over.

We were going to her parent's first, but her mom didn't answer her cell (she doesn't like to) and was m.i.a. at Target, her favorite place (ours too). So we went to my house. I broke the news to a neighbor through miming so we'd keep our voices down (wife wasn't thrilled with me telling her first) then opened the door and surprised my parents. Mom was mid-bite when I said, "you're going to be grandparents!" She almost choked. My dad gave me a very manly handshake, almost a job-well-done kind of thing, and my Mom was a mess of laughter, crying and pure joy. This will be their first. I'm the oldest, so it's another pioneering move on my part (my little brother did everything first, car, girlfriend, EVERYTHING; so this is my turn, as my wife so astutely pointed out). Mid Mom-freak-out, our neighbor and her newborn appeared at the door, camera in hand, and captured my Mom's first reaction to the good news. Priceless. The wife changed her mind about my blabbing and was happy to have the paparazzi after all.

Next, we had to stall for the in-laws. Mom-in-law still didn't seem to be home yet as far as we could tell (we could see their house from mine, one of thousands of benefits of growing up on the same block), so we decided to get some dinner. Starved and exhausted, we first tried Submarina, the wife's fave, but it was closed, with a sign on the door that read "closed due to unforeseen circumstances." Rubio's was next up and did the trick. Both of us were a little nervous; we just wanted to get the word out as soon as possible, but not before the parents knew.

I've known my in-laws since I was 9 years old, and have always felt a part of the family, so I thought I had a good bead on what their reaction would be. This will be their fourth grand-child, so I thought they'd be happy, hand out the requisite hugs and handshakes and that would be that. When we finally made it back to the house (and discovered Mom-in-law had actually been there the whole time, doh!), I was blown away. Dad-in-law laughed until he cried, and was so overwhelmed as he came down the stairs, he had to sit down before he fell down. Mom-in-law clasped her hands together and did a little dance and said "thank you!" It was amazing.

Dad-in-law shook my hand and hugged me, and I could swear his eyes were saying "good job knocking up my daughter, I'm proud of you." Grandpa and Auntie were there too and were just as thrilled. Then Dad-in-law dragged us up the street to Uncle and Neighbor's house where we were again greeted with dropped open mouths and exclamations of joy.

Don't get me wrong, I know that people react positively to baby-news, I was just not expecting this LEVEL of joy. It's not something I've ever seen up close. And certainly not something I've been this much a part of. It was AWESOME. Truly.

Next we stopped by my brother and his wife's place, and just collected another truck-load of love and hugs and kisses. It felt like winning the lottery.

Hilariously, almost all of our friends whom we tried to call on the way home weren't around to answer their cell phones. I managed to get the word out through email, a poor substitute, but efficient.

That night we didn't sleep much or well. The wife was headed out to Minnesota for a wedding for four days, and I had to get her to LAX by 7am.

Since then, I've had some major separation anxiety. The big baby-bomb had been detonated and as the fall-out cleared, life went on and my Wife was not at my side. I spent Thurs and Fri sharing the news with co-workers, explaining our choice to tell early, and fielding questions about the hows and whens. Emails came in that I've saved with hilarious name suggestions and plenty of joy-filled expletives.

Like a genius, I made some bad food choices two days in a row (I have Reflux) and have been suffering through, alone and missing my Wife and Unborn Child. On Thurs night, I had to make an emergency run to Target (see, our favorite place too) and pick up some antacids etc.
The pain from reflux is difficult to describe, somewhere between the dull ache of a donkey's hoof to your stomach and the heat of a volcano bubbling lava up your throat. During these bouts, my worst-case-scenario muscle tends to kick in, and this time, the onset of father-hood provided all the material necessary to really send me over the top. Sweating and chilled, I drove to Target, repeating "Man-UP" mantras and trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

Inside, with my goals clear, I made my way through the store. While freaking out mentally, and my body following suit, my heart managed to win the day. This was a new experience for me. It was triggered as I stumbled past a newborn in a shopping cart.

On any other day, I'd have either ignored the kid, or simply took a quick snapshot for my internal artistic reference file. This time though, I was overwhelmed, and in spite of myself, my discomfort and my better judgment, a smile broke out over my face like a rash, feverish and unstoppable. I was excited about being a Dad.

In the weeks and months to come, I know I will be thinking and feeling a great many things, and I hope to keep them here, in this living journal, the kind of thing I can share with my Wife, my friends and family, and one day, with my child.