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7 years
ago

 

Week 21: Back, Belly, Diaper Smelly

The groom’s parents at this Ohio wedding, Larry and Maureen, are honest, modest Midwestern folk, the kind who eat lots of red meat and never say anything nasty about anyone. After a few glasses of ginger ale at the reception, Maureen’s tongue loosened, and she laid some baby wisdom on us. When she had her first child, little Jeffrey, she did all of the child rearing, as was the norm in 1960s Kansas City. One day, Maureen went grocery shopping, and left the baby with Larry for the first time. When she returned an hour later…

7 years
ago

 

Week 21: Kicking and Scheming

You always hear about babies being born, or conceived, in the back seat of cars. I believe Tom Waits was both. Babu’s first kick came in the rear of a rental car in a driveway in Warren, Ohio.

It was the night before Brad and Anne-Marie’s wedding and we were locked out of Anne-Marie’s dad’s house, trying desperately to reach him on the cell phone so Anne-Marie could get inside and go to bed, it being the night before her wedding and all. I was equally interested in finding him, because I’d had too much to drink and needed to use his bathroom…

7 years
ago

 

Week 20: Gender Surrender

Should we find out the baby’s gender? That’s the question of the moment. Babu’s sex organs would be visible on an ultrasound, which is to say that Babu could officially become little Babbo or Babette—if we are interested in such information. Here, the pros and cons of finding out:

Why we should wait:

  • We’re looking forward to the “surprise.”
  • We could be bummed out by what we find out. (We both want a boy.)…

7 years
ago

 

Week 20: Ving Rhames, Dumb Names

Sarah and I have had baby names picked out since before we were even married. I think she brought it up on our third date. We haven’t told anyone what they are, but they are classic, timeless Jewish names that call to mind centuries of history and heroics and pay homage to various beloved family members. Trouble is, everyone else in America suddenly started picking these names. In short, the names have become the one thing you don’t your name to be: trendy.

The good news is in five months the names we’ve chosen will most likely be so in that they’re out again, while all those MacKenzies and Jaydens and Madisons will someday be adults named MacKenzie, Jayden, and Madison…

7 years
ago

 

Week 19: Flowers Good, Flu Bad

In Sarah’s pregnancy books, there’s a lot of space dedicated to the importance of flowers. Flora seems to represent life, growth, and beauty, and a Devoted Hubby is expected to have FTD on speed dial for nine months.

I have always bought my wife a lot of flowers, and not just when I screw up. Problem is, my taste in flowers sucks. Carnations, it turns out, are as romantic as nose hair. But every time I brought them home, she smiled and kissed me, because at least I was trying. “That was so sweet of you,” she’d say in a syrupy voice that sounded familiar because it was the same one she used when a family member sent a really awful sweater…

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7 years
ago

 

Week 19: Death in the Jungle

Sarah has been trying to get me to babysit our infant niece. A four-hour dry run for the terrors of fatherhood isn’t the worst idea in the world, I suppose, but I am far too spineless to do it alone. I agreed to it only if Sarah came with me.

When we arrived at Ben and Ursina’s Hyde Park townhouse, my first shock was just how much stuff the kid had. Lillian already owns more property than Donald Trump. Among her recent acquisitions: an army of stuffed animals; an extensive library of Elmo™ board books; a Pack ‘n Play more posh than a Gold Coast walk-up. She’s also got a state-of-the-art video hookup that enables her parents, when they can’t watch her flail around in her crib in person, to watch her do so on TV…

7 years
ago

 

Week 18: This Prince Ain’t So Fresh

Everyone knows by now that we want a boy. Sarah recently gave one of her teachers a task that the teacher wasn’t interested in doing. The teacher grumbled, “I hope your baby is a girl.”

Sarah sighed. “I’ve already come to terms with it being a girl.”

“OK, then I hope it’s twins.”

When Sarah relayed this story to me, I didn’t understand the punchline. “What’s wrong with twins? And don’t we already know it’s just one baby?”…

7 years
ago

 

Week 17: Goddess of Thunder

It thunderstormed like crazy on Friday night. Sarah is deathly afraid of lightning and couldn’t sleep, so we went down to the basement and turned on the TV. I fell asleep on the floor, with her snuggled up against me, squeezing my arm a little tighter at every clap of thunder. The next morning, we found that the basement had flooded around us while we were sleeping. Every step we took, water squished between our toes. It was such a bloody mess that we had to buy a wet/dry vac, a dehumidifier and two electric fans—and it still took three days before the carpet dried. It still smells like an armpit down there…

7 years
ago

 

Week 17: Sweet Child O’ Mine

Sarah ordered a bunch of maternity clothes from gap.com, and when the first shipment came in, I thought the shorts, with their elastic waistband, looked like Sansabelts™. The shirts looked like tablecloths at a church picnic. The timing of the shipment was perfect. Sarah is starting to complain that she feels out of shape. She’s sad that her clothes are starting to get tight. “You’re not out of shape, Sarah,” Dr. Harth said. “You have a baby inside you…

7 years
ago

 

Week 16: Feta and Drano

There are all kinds of “tests” you can do predict the gender: dangling a pin over the pregnant woman’s wrist, a wedding ring over her belly, a herring over her pancreas, et cetera. Every one of them is equally ridiculous. The Chinese claim to have a method of predicting the sex of the baby that claims to be 99 percent accurate. All you need is the age of the mother at the time of conception and the month the child was conceived, and the Chinese Lunar Calendar will do the rest. Of course, you don’t know if it’s going to be a rat or a monkey or what, but at least you’ll know the gender…

7 years
ago

 

Week 16: Boy Wonder

Historically, men have tended to want their baby to be a boy. So have most women. A boy keeps the family name alive; he is capable of manual labor; he earns the income necessary to take care of his parents in their old age. This kind of thinking is obviously outdated, and has led to abandoned children, sex-selective infanticide, and other joys.

And yet, most men still want their baby to be a boy. Maybe the idea of being tender and nurturing a little girl scares us; maybe we’d feel dirty bathing and changing them. Or maybe we know in our heart of hearts that all men are dogs, and someday a dog is going to give our little girl a bone. Not a father’s favorite image…

7 years
ago

 

Week 15: Baby Needs a New Pair of Something or Other

It wasn’t your typical Vegas bachelor party. Just a group of nice guys enjoying some time off. No strippers, no cocaine, no skirt-chasing or nightclubs. You know how they say whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? There was nothing to leave there beyond an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet.

As we were walking down the Strip, I started talking to Chris, the father of a two-year-old. He didn’t have that fanatical New Father Aura, nor the familiar dead look in his eyes; he seemed to be a healthy, happy guy with interests beyond his child. He was the first new father I’d met who was capable of talking about subjects other than strollers and sleep patterns and the color/consistency of bowel movements…

7 years
ago

 

Week 15: Play Ball

Sarah’s nausea has dissipated, and various essential areas of her anatomy are no longer stamped “fragile.” It’s possible, if the stars are aligned, that she could be ready to give sex a go. I’ve tried to improve my chances by telling her that sex will help keep her pelvic muscles toned in preparation for childbirth. Of course, now she is suffering from the worst headaches of her life. Go figure.

What I’ve gleaned from the contingent of Expectant Fathers Goons lucky enough to have sex with their pregnant wives is this: it’s a weird experience…

7 years
ago

 

Week 14: The Reveal

Some couples will hatch elaborate plans for springing their pregnancy on the world. Last November, I got talked into having Thanksgiving dinner with Ursina’s family in Maryland. Considering it was my wife’s brother’s wife’s father’s sister’s home 700 miles away, and I knew almost none of the 30 people at the table, I found myself wondering why I’d been invited. (It turns out, they’re just nice people.) Then, just before dinner began, Ben and Ursina made a heartfelt toast, and concluded by requesting that their two sets of parents—who were sitting at the head and foot of the table—look under their seats. When they did, each of them received a shock: an ultrasound photo with the words, “Hi Grandma and/or Grandpa” on it…

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