Countdown

Abacus

Week 32. Month 8.

We literally can’t go anywhere these days without people stopping us in our tracks and commenting on Wifey’s figure. Generally the remarks she elicits are positive in tone, most commonly:

  1. “Oh my God… what an adorable belly! You’re, like, the cutest pregnant woman ever.”
  2. “Aw…. there’s a BABY in there! Do you know if its a boy or a girl??”

Then of course there’s the one that pregnant women around the world love to hate:

3.  “Holy shit… you’re HUGE!”

Regardless of which of these comes first, it’s almost always followed by the question, “how far along are you?” Then, when people hear 8 months, they inevitably exclaim “only one month to go!”

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), they’ve got it all wrong.

Everybody is taught that pregnancy lasts nine months, which is true in its way. But a normal pregnancy doesn’t come to term at the beginning of the ninth month; the baby is born at the end of it (if Mommy is even so lucky). So this whole “nine months” thing is total bullshit. We’re talking about ten months here.

Which means that we still have to wait two months before we get meet our little dude. His room is ready, and he’s already got quite the wardrobe waiting for him. But he’s gotta keep cooking, and Daddy’s still got his work cut out for him over the next couple of months.

They say patience is a virtue, right? 

Priorities

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(No, not my photo – or my kid – although he could end up looking like this.)

Week 31.

We’re heading into the final stretch: Wifey’s beginning her last month on the job (thanks California!), little dude’s bedroom is halfway ready to go, and – like a good Daddy-to-be – I’m preparing to get the hell out of Dodge for a while. What better excuse for leaving Baby Momma on her own in Month 8 than a manly road trip up to wine country?

Believe it or not, I’ve got her full support on this one (or so she says). It’s a multi-purpose journey; while mostly about connecting with my friends up in Napa and Sonoma, making new ones, and sourcing wine for future volumes of Le Metro, it also serves a deeper personal goal. (It may help that I planned the trip around our birthing classes which begin next week, so I managed to store up some points from that, too.)

It hasn’t taken much effort for us to prioritize “couple time” before our son is born – after all, spending time alone together is our favorite activity. But it’s much more complicated to actually take time alone. So we’ve decided to leave each other up to our own devices for a few days while we still deem it “safe.”

Don’t worry – I’m not really leaving her hanging. I’ll make sure the house is clean and full of food before I take off; more importantly, I’m setting her mind at rest by gathering my buddies to help assemble baby furniture while she’s at her shower this weekend (and to make more room in the fridge for her by drinking all of our beer). Moreover, her parents are just a half hour away, so we’ve got a safety net in place.

So I’m willing to risk it – for the wines I’ll get to try on this trip, and for the volume of the tunes I’ll be cranking in the car on the way. But there’s just no accounting for hormones; I may still spend the rest of my life living it down.

 

 

Na Zdorovie!

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Week 29.

Now that we’re “safely” into the third trimester, I’ll be honest – it’s pretty awesome to share some wine with my wife over dinner once more. Little dude is pretty well cooked at this point, and his mother no longer wrinkles her nose when I hold a glass under it. In fact, she seems to be very much enjoying the wines I share with her. (All Le Metro selections, of course!)

You should’ve seen it when when I poured her glass of Champagne from a six liter bottle of Veuve Clicquot at a birthday party a couple of weeks ago; that’s an image I’d very much like to show my son someday. However, this seems to be quite a touchy subject for a lot of people. It’s been fascinating – and a bit contradictory – to gauge the reactions of those who see Baby Momma with a glass of wine in hand. Like so many other aspects of pregnancy, everybody offers advice and/or passes judgement. However, for each person who looks at her in disdain, there is at least one other who cheers her on.

Last week I came across an interesting article in the Daily Mail outlining a recent British study on the subject, examining the effects of wine consumption by pregnant mothers. Kids whose mothers had consumed various amounts of alcohol during pregnancy were studied up until the age of 10, and the results showed that low to moderate levels of drinking during pregnancy had no effect.

This may never be proven definitively, and it’s incredibly frustrating. It’s kind of like using electronics on airplanes: there’s no proof that reading your Kindle during takeoff will cause any harm at all, but there’s also no verification that it won’t. If there’s even the remotest chance that this is within your control – do you want to be responsible for that??

One thing we do know for sure is that both pregnancy and birth go more smoothly when a mother is calm and relaxed. If a glass of wine now and again helps Wifey maintain her zen, I’m not going to be the guy to withhold it. It’s not in my nature to say no when a beautiful woman asks me for vino – especially/even when she’s carrying my child.

Nobody is advocating binge drinking by pregnant mothers – I’ll resist for some more time taking her down to our local dive for shots of Jameson. (She wouldn’t touch them anyway, without at least a pickle back). But it’s funny how prone to culture the “rules” are, and how quickly they change over time. For example, today’s pregnancy experts recommend regular exercise throughout the course of pregnancy; in Victorian times women were prescribed “confinement,” meaning they were restricted to their beds.

My babushka-in-law summed it all up rather nicely over dinner the other night: “I guess some wine is all right for her…  but I understand why they didn’t let us drink back in Russia… we would’ve all been chugging Vodka!”

Babushka, I have just one thing to say. Na Zdorovie!

Babymoon

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Week 27.

This one comes at you straight from the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, where Wifey and I are enjoying what is likely to be our last quiet vacation for quite some time. We’re taking advantage of what has commonly come to be called a “Babymoon:” our final opportunity to make use of the swim-up bar at the adult pool (at least without paying for a babysitter or traveling with our parents).

Apparently this kind of trip is a relatively new phenomenon. Although I’m not first of their offspring to take one – in fact I’m the third – my parents seem to get a real kick out of the concept. “Can you believe the kids all go on ‘Babymoons’ these days? When we were younger all we got was one honeymoon…”

Go ahead, call us spoiled; we can take it. This vacation makes all the sense in the world:  once Little Dude takes his first breath nothing will ever be quite the same, let alone travel. So allow me my Dos Equis, and Wifey the little umbrellas in her tropical juice. She’s earned it – and I’m happy to carry her bags.

Judging by our observations on the voyage here, future journeys are likely to take on a vastly different tone – before we’ve even arrived at our destination. Here are a few examples:

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Hey, at least once we do make it to the gate we’ll be able to board early. That’s gotta count for something.

Addiction

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Week 26.

Among the various lifestyle changes that we’ve made so far during this pregnancy, one has had an especially tangible impact on Wifey’s balance, both literal and figurative (and therefore also my own).

She started doing yoga again.

The “again” is important. To hear her tell it, she had a pretty serious yoga habit before we started dating. By direct association of course that means that it’s my own fault she’s barely gone back since; but what I hadn’t quite realized is that she isn’t just, you know, “into yoga.” She’s a fucking yoga junky, and this baby pushed her right back off the wagon.

She’s like that former smoker who had one drink too many at just one social occasion and the next thing you know he’s back to a pack-a-day habit. She can’t go without her fix. She’s even started proselytizing to other pregnant women around town – or their poor husbands. Last week the guy at the bank who handles my business checking account happened to inform us that his wife is also pregnant, and he immediately received an unsolicited yet flawlessly delivered sales pitch for “Hot Mama” prenatal yoga classes at Nature’s Whisper School of Yoga.

Now I’m doing their marketing too, I can’t help myself. Click the link. It’s an awesome studio.

Joking aside, it’s a marvelous thing to watch her walk in the door when she gets home from yoga every day. She radiates positive energy, confident in her strength and in her ability to bear this baby. She is woman, hear her roar!

Watch out, fellas – yoga doesn’t leave track marks. You never know what you’re getting yourself into.

Movement

Soccer-Ball

Week 25.

My wife is carrying a soccer player around. (Or maybe a dancer – we’re open minded.)

At least that’s what I hope – this kid’s beating the shit out of Mommy. He better calm down when he’s born, or else get rich and famous off those kickers.

The funny thing is, we both love it. For a while there, despite the visible bump, it was difficult for me (as it is for most men) to really wrap my head around reality of a human being growing inside my wife. There was a certain disconnect – she felt her body immediately begin to change rapidly, while I spent several months stuck on “Holy shit, is this for real???”

But starting with that first kick – to my face, actually, about a month ago – any doubt went out the window. Something is going on in there, and at this point, it better be a baby. The alternatives would be seriously weird.

These days, little dude hardly ever stops dancing. As soon as Wifey sits still he perks up; she places my hand on the right spot and I can feel him. Is that an arm? A leg? His tush? I don’t even care – all that matters is that he’s my baby, and he’s real.

 

 

 

 

 

Gravity

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Week 23.

To take advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend just past, Wifey, the belly, and I took a little excursion out to the desert.

I’ll admit I took some shit from friends and family for the decision to take my pregnant companion away from 75 degree weather on the beaches of San Diego in favor of 100 degrees in Palm Springs. I offer one simple explanation (aside from the general escapism of a mini road trip): the resort that I cashed our hotels.com free night in on – La Quinta Resort & Spa – has no less than 41 pools on the property. 41!!! I have never seen joy such as that on Baby Mama’s face when we arrived, began pool-hopping, and her belly sank below the water for the first time.

We were not the only ones with this brilliant idea – there was a veritable parade of baby bumps around the “Adult Pool” at La Quinta this weekend. Bumps at all stages of development, staring each other down, wondering who is where in the process, who will win the race.

Some of the other parents-to-be even had the foresight to bring along their own floating devices. Not only did I fail on the floatie – although we actually purchased one just last week and could easily have thrown it in the car – but it honestly hadn’t even occurred to me just how therapeutic the water would be for the wife, despite the fact that I myself swim laps almost every day.

Pay attention, boys: get your woman in the pool. Just make sure you’ve got some extra room in the backyard, because she’ll probably end up wanting her own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variety (Or: 101 Dalmatians)

Week 22.

We’ve officially arrived at the point in this pregnancy where Wifey’s proud belly announces our entrance into every room. Perhaps as a result of this, we’ve also grown very perceptive of other bumps around town; all of a sudden it seems like San Diego is literally just bursting with pregnant ladies.

This hit me more than ever on Monday night when we went to tour the birthing facilities at the UCSD Medical Center over in Hilcrest, which as well as offering more maternity care options than any other hospital in town has the added advantage of being a mere 5 miles from our house. Far from being a personal tour, though, this was a large open house with a couple hundred people in attendance.

It was a surreal scene to my eyes, and it really got me to thinking: 100 different couples from all cultures and classes, with a wild diversity of human sizes, shapes, colors, and ages – all passing through exactly the same moment in life at exactly the same time. I for one truly enjoyed the reminder that maybe life really isn’t that different for each of us after all, despite the many and often-frustrating signs to the contrary.

Along with these more serious thoughts, however, in the back of my head I was keeping myself entertained all night with much more lighthearted imagery. While initially it was the striking variance between each couple that caught my attention, what I really got stuck on were the stylistic similarities shared by the two parents in each grouping.

This image sums it all up pretty nicely:

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Man, I can’t wait to see what all these kids are going to look like.

Snoring

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Week 21.

This week Wifey and I encountered a snag that none of the “pregnancy experts” had covered: what happens to a woman in her fifth month of pregnancy when she’s got a full-time job and her husband – usually a well-oiled machine of domesticity – gets the flu and reverts to a mewling infant?

Those Maternal instincts kick in a few months early is what happens. To my immense relief – yet even greater shame – I’ve spent most of the past week being waited on hand and foot by a pregnant lady. She’s got a very full plate at work, a rapidly growing belly, and a somewhat limited range of motion. Yet she somehow managed to make me chicken soup from scratch, take me to the hospital when it got scary, and be generally far more loving than a whiney little bitch like myself deserved.

Even – or perhaps especially – when I began to snore.

Not that I was at all conscious of the late-night encounter, but I’m imagining it went something like this:

The scene is gently backlit by moonlight creeping in the window on Wifey’s side of the bed.

Me: snoring.

Wifey: nudge.

Me: still snoring…

Wifey: HARD nudge.

Me: still snoring (loudly).

Wifey: “OMG I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!!!”

Me: ….

The moonlight outlines a silhouette of her perfectly protruding baby bump as she slowly maneuvers herself out of bed. It also illuminates the scowl of fury on her porcelain features.  

Five hours later: 

Early morning light shines on a half-empty bed. From a large form huddled under the covers comes the unmistakable sound of a freight train barreling down the tracks. 

On the couch in the adjacent room, a much smaller form lies, curled around a body pillow, not-quite-asleep. A close-up of her rosy lips as she softly whispers:  

“Enough of this shit already….. I want my fucking husband back.”

This woman is way too good for me.

Borscht (AKA: “Nesting”)

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Weeks 19/20.

When I met my lovely wife 3 1/2 years ago, she wasn’t super comfortable in the kitchen. This has changed over time, although I’ve retained my role as household chef – after all, kitchen skills are an unwritten part of the whole “trophy husband” agreement. But you’ll appreciate my shock last week when Baby Mama broke out her inner Babushka (that’s Russian for “Grandma”) – along with our rolling pin – and proceeded to get down and dirty.

Ah, yes. Month 5. I believe they call “nesting.”

Not that I’m complaining. Shit – I’m talking homemade Borscht and Gluten-free, scratch-made Vareniki that taste better than those at our local Russian restaurant. Even my mother-in-law was jealous. But seriously – WTF? You just impulsively dedicated the entire afternoon to Vareniki?? (The link is there for those lacking Russian friends.)

As is the case with most things I write about on this blog, this phenomenon is hardly unique to us. Wikipedia defines the “nesting instinct” as the following:

“an instinct or urge in pregnant animals to prepare a home for the upcoming newborn… found in a variety of animals (both mammals and birds) including humans.”

An interesting impulse, this nesting. It struck me as so strange when I first witnessed it – I recall my oldest sister did a lot of baking when she was pregnant with her first. If we were birds, I suppose Wifey would be waddling around building a new addition onto the house, and I’d be out hunting. But fuck that, we’re people. We’ve got a contractor for a landlord, and a great organic market up the street. 

So instead, she makes Borscht and Vareniki, and I get to make fun of her on my blog.

Ah, the joys of being human.