Three interesting developments this week:

1. My wife’s gross motor movements have gotten worse. Sarah has many strengths, but grace ain’t one of them. Her fingers are starting to swell, so it’s hard for her to hold onto things, and her vision sucks, which means every time I look over, she’s spilling soup or bumping into walls or poking herself in the eye. It’s like my own personal episode of the 1 1/2 Stooges.

2. She can’t remember a damn thing. Recently, she lost her driver’s license, and when I suggested looking in the black hole that has become our car, she insisted it wasn’t in there. I bet her a dollar that it was. An hour later, she found it in the trunk, stuck to the bottom of a Quarter Pounder wrapper. Easiest dollar ever.

3. She’s pulling up her pants really high. When I asked why, Sarah explained that with a bulge in her mid-section, it was either really high or really low, and she went with high because it was more comfortable, and if anyone had a problem with it, the hell with them. And with me. I decided not to mention the fact that I still didn’t see any bulge in her mid-section.

Remember lanugo? That weird hair covering our fetus that I told you about back in week 17? Well, now our hairy little beast is also enjoying something called vernix, a thick, cheesy, smegma-like coating that protects its body during its months of living the Life Aquatic. It is basically oil from the fetus’s skin that has been secreted by its sebaceous glands, which sounds inherently icky, but it may actually have some antibacterial properties. Nurses reportedly use it for hand lotion.

Lately, I’ve been tempted to talk to the fetus, which I’m assured is perfectly natural. In fact, “belly talk” is all the rage amongst expectant parents: you can buy all kinds of products to help you communicate, such as the “WombSong Prenatal Sound System” ($50), which involves a microphone, a headset, and a Mozart CD. Another option is a BabyPlus Prenatal Education System ($150), which takes fetuses through a 16-week course on rhythmic sounds. (Its marketing pitch: “You’re never too young to learn. In fact, you don’t even have to be born.”) The market is flooded with this stuff, all centered around creating a “positive intrauterine environment.”

A positive intrauterine environment? It feels good (if slightly silly) to communicate with a belly that doesn’t talk back, but does it make a difference? Depends on whom you ask.

R. Buckminster Fuller, the legendary inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet, cosmologist and General Smart Guy, believed that babies are born geniuses, and that we spend the first six years of their lives “degeniusing them.” So a fetus would have a lot more brainpower than, say, me. Sounds plausible, and Fuller would know; after all, he went to Harvard. Then again, he was expelled. Twice.

Others say I can blast all the Mozart or Beethoven or Sex Pistols I want, and it won’t make any difference. Besides, regardless of what Fuller believes, the kid hasn’t mastered English yet, so it probably doesn’t understand that it is my intended audience. In other words, if I swear at the TV because I can’t find the channel The O.C. is on, the fetus might think I’m trying to communicate.

No response yet from Babu, which is just as well. I knew a guy who claimed that the fetus kicked every time he yelled “Go Eagles!” Needless to say, that fun game didn’t last very long. And the wife developed a lifelong repulsion for the Eagles.

Besides, whether the fetus is a genius or a smegma-covered blob, you’re probably just waking it up with your blathering. It’s sleeping approximately 20 hours a day now. Which, I’ve heard, is why Fuller got booted from Harvard the second time.