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Push

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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7 years
ago

 

Week 29: I Love the Eighties. I Hate IKEA

It’s time to start shopping for the baby’s room, and I see a trip to IKEA in my near future. Like most men, I’m not wild about trips to IKEA. Every time I get dragged there, we get lost on the way to Schaumburg, then spend hours wandering around the store, avoiding the thousands of others wandering around the store, get in a drag-down argument, spend way more than we planned, and walk out with a bunch of boxes full of hernia-heavy pieces of wood that I have to figure out how to put together when we get home.

When Sarah brought up IKEA yesterday, my mom perked up. “IKEA? I’ve always wanted to go to IKEA. The nearest one to us is all the way in Santa Fe.” …

7 years
ago

 

Week 28: Privacy Act

If our baby were born now, there is a chance it could survive, though its lungs may not be developed enough for it to breathe properly. If it stays put, its lungs will begin to produce something called surfactant, which is a lipoprotein that keeps the air sacs in there from collapsing or sticking together when we breathe. Kind of important. Babu is still floating around in the amniotic sac, but now it can tell when it’s upside-down or right-side-up, and it may have something to say about that.

My parents are back for another visit, and I keep waiting for Sarah and me to ring in the occasion with our usual Argument About Nothing. This time: nothing…

7 years
ago

 

Week 28: Pathetic or Sympathetic?

You may have heard that certain men develop “sympathetic pregnancies.” Some of us take on the physical characteristics of our pregnant wives—cravings, nausea, weight gain, insomnia, et cetera. Sounds freaky, but it really happens. These are called Couvade symptoms, derived from the French word “couver,” which means “to hatch.”

Does Couvade really exist? Whether it’s psychosomatic, spiritual, or other, the quick answer is yes. The chemical changes that happen inside a man have been scientifically proven…

7 years
ago

 

Week 27: The Forgotten

Well, I blew it again. When I saw the date on my work calendar, today, I froze. It looked familiar. Slowly, my body was overtaken by that sinking feeling when you know there’s something important about the day, but you can’t remember what, and you hope you figure it out, but you also hope you don’t, because that would mean you’re about to get your ass kicked for forgetting it.

Then it hit me: my wedding anniversary…

7 years
ago

 

Week 27: Supercramp

Think of the worst charley horse you ever had. The mind-bendingly excruciating pain probably twisted you senseless for about 30 seconds, then it disappeared, leaving nothing but the ghost of the pain. Sarah says that her Pregnant Leg Cramps are like a six-hour charley horse—times a thousand.

This is a woman who once tore up her knee on the slopes at Steamboat, and insisted on skiing down to First Aid on one her good leg. She’s got an insane threshold for pain. I know she wouldn’t be whining if these cramps weren’t absolutely brutal…

7 years
ago

 

Week 26: Harvest Moon

We were in need of a good adventure, something to get us out of the house and break up these 40 weeks. So on Sunday, we drove 223 miles for a hamburger. I had heard about a general store in Moonshine, Illinois, that served what many called the best burger in America, and Sarah, typically gung ho, piled into the car with me.

We made it 42 miles before she demanded Taco Bell and a bathroom, both of which she got. The rest of the drive was uneventful—apart from a bad omen near Rantoul, when a birthday clown driving a white Dakota passed us doing 95. As he sped past, he glanced over, his face painted into a chilling smile, and you just knew…

7 years
ago

 

Week 26: Raw Deal

You always hear about these wonderful men who give up whatever foods their pregnant wife has to give up for nine months. I am not one of those men. I love my wife, but I also love food. If I were to be senstive, it would mean no more sushi, which contains a risk of parasites; blue cheese (listeria); coffee (miscarriage); peanut butter (allergies); tuna (mercury); rare meats (toxemia); or deli meats (more listeria). Most of these verböten foods have been eaten throughout history with no ill effects to pregnant women. (Of course, for most of history, the life expectancy was roughly 35.)

The other night, we were out to dinner at some hipster restaurant where the menu is printed in all lowercase and every waiter looks like the bass player from Weezer…

7 years
ago

 

Week 25: Tragic Bus

Had a primo seat on the bus today, and was enjoying my space and my sports page when I noticed an overweight woman get on. She scanned the bus, saw that there were no seats left, and picked me to stand over and sigh exaggeratedly at. Great.

Normally, I give up my seat as often as the next guy, but I was so comfortable and I had a heavy backpack and was wearing tight shoes. Why am I always the one who gives up his seat? Let that dude over there with the big hair give up his. And something about the woman’s intrinsic grumpiness rubbed me the wrong way—screw her for making me feel guilty—so I ignored her and turned up my iPod…

7 years
ago

 

Week 25: Indulge the Bulge

Sarah didn’t get the chicken pox. (Exhale . . .) Of course she didn’t. She’s a genetic freak, thank God. It was a huge relief; I’ve always been a worrier. Everyone is quick to tell me that I don’t know what true worrying is because I’ve never faced any real adversity, that I’m nothing but a minor leaguer who has never seen a big-league curveball. To which I say, some of the pitchers in Triple-A make it to the majors, too.

OK. No more baseball metaphors.

The morning after our shopping spree in Indiana, lo and behold, Sarah woke up with a belly…

7 years
ago

 

Week 24: The Benchwarmer

I had one goal for Sunday: to spend as much time as possible watching football. My plan was to invite Kenn and Drue over and eat cheap pizza in the basement and fart and complain about the Bears offense until we fell asleep. Then we’d rouse ourselves in time for the late game on ESPN. It would be heaven. Instead, I found myself in an outlet mall in Indiana, maternity shopping.

Apparently I had promised a long time ago, and Sarah had it on her calendar for weeks. I don’t have a calendar, so I had no recourse. My only plan was make the experience so miserable for both of us that she would never make me do it again…

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