It seems a mite inappropriate to discuss my wife’s pregnancy using gambling metaphors, but saying we’re in the “home stretch” also strikes me as apt. There is some kind of race to the finish here. Maybe she’s trying to snap the yellow tape in a contest against the end of summer, I’m not sure. But as the doctor appointments increase in frequency—we’re now going to see the Sarah Palin lookalike every week—and now that Susanne’s belly is somewhere around three times the size of Susanne herself, it feels like we’re about to accomplish what we set out to do oh so many moons ago.
I’m excited beyond measure, except I think we all know that I’ll attempt to put such heady emotions into words. I’m grateful that Susanne has willing to be prodded by all manner of health care personnel, subjected to the debilitating effects of hormones and invasive testing, and made to absorbing something on the order of 3,278,619 distinct pieces of information, every bit of which will be extremely critically important for at least one second of her labor process. Through all of the information about relaxation techniques, breastfeeding advice, health assessments, couples counseling, medical record keeping, invoices, lab results, receiving blankets, friendly support, and unsolicited stories about what we should never do as parents, Susanne and I still have each other. And somewhere else in all of this: a child, sex still unknown, dragon wings still evidenced during its active times inside Susanne.
At some point, all of that cartilage morphed into bone, a process that still seems like fantasy to me instead of rote cellular mechanics. Now it’s evident when the baby whacks Susanne with a heel or an elbow. She has even felt knuckles.
The appearance of maturation had me scrambling a couple of weeks ago to finish my preparations. To date, I have a pan of lasagna, several meatballs, bags of blueberries and sliced strawberries, and two pies, all in the freezer for when we need them. I’ve made strawberry and blueberry jam, peach preserves, pureed peaches, and pickled asparagus and watermelon rind. I should have made more dried fruit, but I’ll dehydrate some apples when they’re in season, and Susanne’s father is a pro at making applesauce. I need to drive to my friendly neighborhood wholesale store (read: an hour away) and stock up on other non-perishables and weld the car seat to our Honda’s frame. We’ve washed all of the baby dragon’s laundry, set up the nursery, packed the diaper bag, and planned for our stay on the maternity ward. All of this activity and strategizing makes it nearly impossible for me to fathom how anyone deals with the sudden appearance of a baby when they don’t know they’ve been pregnant.
At Sarah Palin’s office on Monday, we confirmed that this baby will likely be coming on the early side. Already it’s ever-punctual Daddy’s child! I go straight to daydreams of exploring the nearby sidewalk, infant-smelling onesies, and learning to hit a baseball. If my own childhood memories are a jumble of images and emotions, so is my visualization, forward-looking, of what my child’s future will include. I know there will also be fevers, projectile vomiting, massive streams of diarrhea, and angry testimonies of “I hate you” ahead of us, but I’m choosing now to forget about all of those. Call it a father’s selective intelligence.
I snapped back into the conversation long enough to readjust my timetable on the probable birth date. Forget September 6, now we’re talking August 31. Bang, bang, bang, thudded the heart in my chest, and I looked over at Susanne’s bare abdomen, stretched out on the exam table next to me. There must be a volcanic mountain left of work to do, and scant hours to accomplish everything.
A ripple across her belly signaled that baby dragon was rolling its butt from one upper corner of the uterus to the other. With her short torso, Susanne isn’t carrying “high” or “low,” she’s carrying everywhere. Soon she’ll be freed from her initial duties as dragon creation device, and then it’s on to the next phase.
I think I need to find some bottles.