Now that my wife’s organs have the population density of Hong Kong, the kicking in there has begun to feel less like kicking and more like small jabs from elbows and knees. That’s good. Some women get totally freaked out by what they consider a lack of movement inside of them, and rely on something called “fetal kick counts"—or FKC to the pros.
What they do is pick a time of day when the kid is most active, take a piece of paper, and make a hash mark every time they feel a movement in there. Hiccups don’t count. According to experts, the fetus should move about ten times in four hours.
Women don’t just sit there for four hours; they’re supposed to carry the paper with them while going about their business. Sarah, of course, quickly got bored with the counting and lost track, and that was the end of that. Fine by me, I found FKC utterly ridiculous, not to mention it always made me think of KFC, which just made me hungry.
* * *
You know that scene in a movie when they show the prototypical bachelor’s home, and it is so impossibly messy you look at it and think, “Come on! Nobody in real life is that much of a slob"? That’s our apartment right now. Little colonies of newspapers and books litter every room, crusty dishes are stacked in the sink, and clothes are still sitting exactly where we took them off a two weeks ago, whether the bathroom, kitchen, or coat closet. The other day I stubbed my toe on a package of frozen egg rolls, then walked around with money stuck to the bottom of my foot for an hour. Not a penny: two dimes and a nickel.
This is what happens when I am in charge of housework.
I tried to step it up, but I was doing such a half-assed job that when all housework ceased, Sarah didn’t seem too fussed. She seemed to find it liberating. She stepped over a bag of bananas on the kitchen floor for three days without saying a word.
There is a moment in every pregnancy, I am told, when a man hits The Wall. His excitement and anticipation is overshadowed by a desire to just have his selfish life back to normal. I am there. Yesterday we were sitting on the couch watching TV when I said something to the effect of, “This pregnancy thing is getting kind of old.” Sarah looked at me sideways, demanding a clarification before she decided whether or not to rip me a new one.
I wisely shifted gears. “I’m guess I’m just ready for you to have this baby and start being a parent.”
Sarah’s face softened and she looked at her belly. “Not me.”
“Are you being sarcastic?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you’re miserable 24 hours a day. You’ve got a gigantic pink sore under your eye where the rest of your face used to be. Your bowels are so rock-hard you haven’t shat in two weeks. Little things like that.
She must have seen me measuring my words. “It’s hard to explain,” she said. “But right now, this thing is all mine. I’m the only one who affects it. And that relationship is only temporary. But when it’s born . . . I have to share the baby with everyone else. I’m going to miss being pregnant because it was my own.”
Wow. I’d never really thought of that.
It goes a long way toward explaining why women put themselves through nine months of pain and chaos. Think of the pride of ownership you feel when you buy a car. Now imagine that you built the car yourself, you create the gas that keeps it running, and the garage it’s parked in is you. This is powerful stuff.
I reached out to give Sarah a hug, but she wasn’t there. She was rooting around on the floor under a pile of dirty laundry, asking, “Where the hell is the remote control?”