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.”

“Great,” I said. “You two can go, and I can watch the Northwestern-Michigan game with Kenn and Dad.”

Fifteen minutes later, I was on the road to IKEA with my wife and my mother. “Stop complaining,” Sarah said when we missed the turn-off for the store. “You act like it’s miserable, and you end up making it miserable.” My mom, meanwhile, was giggling excitedly in the backseat like a kid on the way to Dairy Queen.

Seven hours, two shouting matches, and $1,493.21 later, we were on our way home. Among our purchases: a day bed, a crib, four bookcases, a rug with only primary colors, and some lights shaped like bumblebees. And it was miserable. My mother, initially impressed by the spectacle of IKEA, eventually found it overwhelming and needed to lie down when we got home. So did I. And Northwestern got crushed by Michigan, as usual.

* * *

We’re sitting on the couch in the basement, half-heartedly watching I Love the Eighties on VH1.

“Hey, check this out,” Sarah says.

I glance over. She’s wearing a tight t-shirt, accentuating her ever-more curvy shape. As I’m admiring her body, she tugs the shirt off in one fluid motion. This kind of bold move, six months ago, would have accelerated my heart rate. Now it just means I’m going to see some freaky shit.

There’s her perfectly round belly, bulging more than ever. I half expect to Kobe Bryant to grab it and chuck a 22-foot jumper.

“Watch this,” she says.

Nothing happens.

“What exactly am I looking for?”

“Just wait.” And then, almost imperceptibly . . . her stomach lurches.


Sarah smiles. “Isn’t that cool?”

Again, a little jab. “It looks like a muscle spasm,” I say.

“That muscle spasm is your baby kicking me.”

Another jolt, followed by an earthquake rumble. “Jeez. How do you get anything done with that going on?”

“I don’t.”

We stare at her belly for a few minutes. Apparently, the show is over. I knew there was something in there, but this is the first movement I can see with my own eyes, and it blows me away. When we go back to VH1, the eighties are still lovable, but they don’t seem half as interesting anymore.