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7 years
ago

 

Week 36: Puerto Rico, You Lovely Island…

Our condo in Fajardo, a town on the country’s breathtaking northeastern coast, was lovely. We had a panoramic view of the ocean and palm trees—and our airy apartment had everything we needed. When the toilet became a little volatile one afternoon, Isaac decided to buy a plunger, and when he came home, he realized we already had one. Two plungers: now that’s the lap of luxury.

I was left alone to babysit Lillian one day. We had masses of toys at our disposal, but for two hours, she was interested mainly in three things: a book called Huggy Buggy, a tin that once held a deck of Seinfeld playing cards, and my facial hair, all of which she endlessly studied and put in her mouth…

7 years
ago

 

Week 36: Flight or Fight?

Several airlines refuse to allow a woman on board if she is more than 36 weeks pregnant. What do they do, measure the fetus at the gate? I assume this policy exists because airlines fear for the safety of a lavatory delivery at 20,000 feet. Nope. It stems from the high cost of diverting a plane for an emergency landing. Ah, the friendly skies of United. We got in just under the wire on our flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was Sarah’s family vacation, and my traveling companions were an older man, a pregnant woman, a 9-month old baby, and a mother and father obsessed with the 9-month-old baby. The most reliable member of the crew was the baby…

7 years
ago

 

Week 35: Guilt, Misogyny, and Vaginas

Why the hate? That’s what I want to know. Misogyny is alive and well and living in male-oriented books about pregnancy. Take a look at these excerpts:

•"There are many reasons to resent your wife when she’s pregnant.”
•"[Y]our wife should be treated like any other savage creature ready to attack.”
•"Instead of acting like a temptress, she’ll act more like a toddler. Once you start thinking of your wife as a baby, not a broad, you’ll notice other similarities as well.”
•"[T]hink of pregnancy as a nine-month stint at a prisoner-of-war camp . . .”
•"Sure, living with a pregnant woman can’t kill you, but it sure can take the fun out of living.”

Boy. No wonder so many men bail out just after they’ve pulled out…

7 years
ago

 

Week 35: The Love Bloat

I just read a new study that claims the average pregnancy is not 40 weeks, but rather 41 1/2. Great. I feel like we just got another couple of years tacked on to our life sentence.

Regardless, a healthy woman should gain between 25 and 35 pounds over the course of a pregnancy. A few years back, I saw a woman—let’s call her Sharon—gain roughly 70 pounds. She didn’t look like Sharon; she looked like a person who had eaten Sharon. With a side of fries. She was predictably miserable. Her wedding ring went in a drawer for nine months because her finger was too bloated to accommodate it. I recall the moment she realized she could no longer cross her legs. “Well, shit,” she said, trying to locate her feet for a few seconds. Then she went back to looking miserable…

7 years
ago

 

Week 34: Prenatal Porn

We’ve begun watching horribly graphic childbirth videos in our Bradley class. Yes, I understand their purpose: no one is trying to candy-coat this whole delivery thing, nor should they. Labor is obviously painful and wet and loud and bloody, and if we aren’t ready for that we’re doing ourselves—and our baby—a major disservice. But it’s still gross.

There was the video in which the husband crumpled to the floor like an empty tent when the doctor presented the massive needle for his wife’s epidural.

There was the water birth in some kind of icky prenatal jacuzzi that eventually had nine or so different kinds of fluid floating in it, none of which you’d want to see in your kitchen sink…

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7 years
ago

 

Week 34: Breaking the Ultrasound Barrier

Sarah’s heartburn is unbearable, for us both. Acid reflux is a problem for preggos, especially at night because when they lie down, stomach acid rises into their esophagus. Yuck. Therefore, she’s sleeping with her head elevated, and making use of the “body pillow” Kenn and Julie bought from Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s doing the trick, but our king-size is getting mighty crowded. This morning I counted nine pillows, three blankets, four stuffed animals, five books, and one dirty spoon. Now the body pillow. It’s such a massive presence that when I wake up in the middle of the night, I can’t find my wife. She’s over there somewhere, I guess, because I can hear the noises in her stomach…

7 years
ago

 

Week 33: Pink Void, the Wall

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…

7 years
ago

 

Week 32: eBay City Rollers

As the belly broadens, so does the complaining. She’s itchy. She’s tired. She’s hungry. She’s sick. She’s all of the above, or some combination thereof. I’m trying my best to empathize with every single complaint, but it’s hard when they’re coming one on top of the other. I was working on my laptop last night when Sarah started mumbling something about how these hiccups were driving her crazy.

I didn’t see why it was such a big deal. “You’ve got the hiccups?”

“No,” she said firmly. “Babu has the hiccups…

7 years
ago

 

Week 32: The Great Big Cosmic Coin Toss

Sarah and I are in Napa Valley, celebrating Thanksgiving with the extended Ruby family.

Heaven.

The annual tradition goes something like this: We stuff ourselves at Carol and Tony’s gorgeous home in the Berkeley hills, then the whole family drives up to Napa where we spend the next 48 hours at a schmancy Yountville resort, digesting the meal. It’s a pretty decadent—if fleeting—ritual, and it all takes place a block from the French Laundry. Thank God someone else foots the bill.

Our room has its own fireplace and whirlpool, and you better believe we’re using every last towel and conditioner and clam-shaped soap and white terrycloth robe. There are winery tours during the day, cheese tastings by the lobby fireplace at night. Yesterday we ate gourmet chocolate chip cookies from Bouchon and saw Dennis Franz scowling throughout a street festival just outside our door…

7 years
ago

 

Week 32: Home Economics

In three weeks, Sarah quits her job to become a future stay-at-home mother. This may not sound terribly earth shattering; there are more than 5.4 million stay-at-home moms in America, according to the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau. (There were about 100,000 stay-at-home dads.) But Sarah is a middle school principal at a public school she built up from nothing. She went door-to-door in the toughest housing project in Chicago to recruit students—undeterred by gunfire, crack addicts, and skeptical parents…

7 years
ago

 

Week 31: Squatter’s Rights

Was a time that doctors thought that any kind of motion in the pregnant woman could hurt the fetus. They prescribed rest and lots of it, which equated with women just sitting around for nine months, waiting. This must have seemed strange to the proverbial Chinese women who worked the fields throughout their pregnancies, pushed the baby out into a soybean plant, then went back to work. And there are 1.3 billion people in China. They’re obviously not having problems giving birth.

Nowadays, Western doctors agree that exercise during pregnancy isn’t dangerous; it’s beneficial. Some say it makes labor shorter, eases back pain, reduces fatigue, and makes the post-natal recovery easier. The only exercise Sarah has done so far is the easiest: kegel exercises…

7 years
ago

 

Week 31: The Seven-Month Itch

The cramps are gone, but now Sarah’s entire body has begun molting. Everywhere she goes, layers of skin fall off, leaving little anthills of white stuff behind. Our couch looks like the Canadian Rockies. And she’s always itchy, scratching until her skin is red and splotchy. She’s got me scratching those impossible-to-reach spots on her back (“HARDER! HARDER!"), and she isn’t satisfied unless I practically break the skin. I’m thinking of keeping a pair of spaghetti tongs on the bedside table…

7 years
ago

 

Week 30: Shot, in the Dark

Epidural.

In the Childbirth Universe, no four syllables have more power as an argument-starter. The word provokes defensiveness in some and smugness in others. There’s hand-wringing. Rationalizing. Pontificating. Innocently ask a new mother, “Did you get an epidural?” and you’re likely to get a complicated answer, like: “I didn’t want to, but I was pushing for 17 hours and the hospital has a policy…” or “My cervix was fully dilated and they were threatening to give me an episiotomy…”

7 years
ago

 

Week 30: Are You There, Heart Attack? It’s Me, Jeff

Quiet days on the pregnancy front. Not much is happening. Mostly there is just a lot of complaining about leg cramps, which Sarah says are getting worse.

When my mom, Lois, asked me to go to New York for two days, I jumped at the chance. A respected author of young adult fiction including the mega-successful novel Steal Away Home, she had been asked to chair the National Book Awards committee that picked the top young adult book of the year. The awards ceremony, a black-tie event hosted by Garrison Keillor, was in Times Square. My dad isn’t a big New York fan, so Mom asked me.

Most guys would think twice before leaving their pregnant wife to go off gallivanting with their mother in another time zone…

7 years
ago

 

Week 29: Sweeping the Faith

We’ve been discussing the big questions about child-rearing. Will we spank our child? Will we leave him or her in daycare? How will we raise the kid, ideologically speaking? When you’ve got a mixed marriage, that last one is a minefield. What set of beliefs do we instill in our child when we grew up with entirely different belief systems, different histories, different everything? Does one of us convert? Do we make a choice for the child? When? Does the child choose? When? The questions go on and on.

Sarah and I are both Jewish, so that’s good, but we’ve got bigger problems to worry about. She’s a Cubs fan, and I’m a White Sox guy…

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