I don’t think either one of us actually believed Lisa was going to have a baby. Lisa was supposed to eat lots of green vegetables, but she just ate a lot of ramen and hot dogs instead. She hadn’t graduated yet, and she didn’t have a job lined up. Even if she was going to have a baby, we’d have to raise it in a box on the street because that’s where we’d all be living. And it would be an incredibly tight fight what with the baby and my entire record collection. So the timing was just awful. Also, this just seemed like a cruel joke the universe was playing on us. We had just convinced ourselves that parenthood was not for us. Why give us the chance to prove it?
We went in for the first ultrasound, and they told us that yes, Lisa was pregnant. The nurse pointed to something on the screen she assured us was a baby. After looking at it for a while, we decided it looked like a scorpion. We started calling it “Little Scorpy”, and I guess we were a little excited at this point. I still spent much of my time looking at articles about unicornuate uteruses and assuming that disaster would strike at any moment. My grandmother always said that nothing good ever lasts, which I’ve taken to heart. She also sad that thin girls get fat, and fat girls get fatter. My grandmother was a real font of wisdom.
The second ultrasound was a lot more impressive. It had stopped looking like something like a back-up dancer for Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band and started looking like a little person. It flipped around and threw some punches against the ultrasound machine, and I completely and utterly bonded with it. I think I could have watched it for hours. I was still scared as hell, but for the first time I was excited.
I think this is the point at which people change their Facebook profile to a blurry ultrasound picture, and do things like have gender reveal parties, which I don’t really understand the point of. Unless the point is to eat cake, in which case I completely understand the point of gender reveal parties. We told our families, but we decided to not tell anyone else just yet. If we could have made it nine months without telling anyone, we probably would have. We wanted to just have the pregnancy over and done with.
Lisa wanted to be surprised about the gender of the baby. I had wanted to find out, but I didn’t feel strongly enough that I wanted to argue about it. After a few months, I was pretty convinced that we were having a girl. I was really excited about this. I’d heard boys were difficult. I was never a sports fans, so I wouldn’t have to worry about disappointing a kid when I wasn’t any good at playing catch. I learned about American Girl dolls, and I looked forward to teaching my daughter about American history, albeit with an emphasis on important battles of World War 2. I figured I’d get her a few issues of Wonder Woman, and everything would be all set.
I started reading parenting books, and while I learned a lot, it gave me a whole host of things to worry about. I worried that if I had a daughter, then she would be raped. I worried that if I had a son, he would be a rapist. I was worried our child would be a delinquent and end up going to prison. I was worried it would have Lou Gehrig’s Disease. (It seemed plausible at the time). I considered approaching women with well-behaved kids and offering to trade them for the kid forming in my wife’s uterus, just so I could be assured that I wouldn’t have to deal with behavioral issues.
We started telling our friends that Lisa was pregnant. We starting telling everyone. We used to lie in bed at night, and I would read science fiction stories to the baby. I admit it’s a bit unorthodox to read “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” to your child in utero, but Lisa always said that the baby would move around a lot while I was reading, so I thought it was a nice bonding experience. Also, it’s never too early to expose your child to the work of Harlan Ellison.
Everything was going about as well as could be expected until the night Lisa came home practically in tears because she hadn’t felt the baby move all day.
“I’m sure everything’s fine,” I said, pretty sure that nothing would be fine ever again.
I watched her roll around on the bed and jump up and down in an attempt to get the baby to move. I tried to think of something, anything to say to make it better. I couldn’t think of anything.
The baby started moving again. Lisa cried. I felt like I’d aged about 20 years in five minutes, but at least everything was OK. I’m not sure I would have ever truly recovered if it hadn’t been.
The baby shower came and went. The baby’s room was painted, and the crib was set up. I had read all the parenting books I could stand at that point, and there was pretty much nothing else to do but wait. Lisa was 38 weeks pregnant at this point. I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I watched Frozen, as I knew little girls are into that movie, and I wanted to make sure I was prepared to deal with that nonsense.
A couple days later, Lisa went in for an exam, and they told her the baby needed to come out. I don’t remember all the details, but we had to get the baby out before her uterus collapsed in on itself and turned into a wormhole and shot the baby into another dimension. Or something like that. I’m not a doctor. All I really remember was that I was reading this article in the waiting room, which is not the best article to read when you’re about to become a parent. Time was up. In a couple days, the doctors would induce labor and we’d be parents.
We walked into the hospital at 7 o’clock on a Thursday morning reading to stat this whole parenting thing. I didn’t know how long it was going to take, but I assumed that once that hooked my wife to whatever contraption they were going to use to induce labor, things would happen pretty quickly. I’d seen the movie Inseminoid, so I wasn’t completely clueless about how this whole childbirth thing worked.
They hooked Lisa up to a Pitocin drip, and we waited. And we waited some more. And then we spent even more time waiting. Fortunately, there was a TV in the room, so Lisa could watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother while I read the first collection of the comic book Sex Criminals. (Pro Tip: never leave the house for the birth of your child without a copy of Sex Criminals)
By the time evening rolled around, nothing whatsoever had happened. They took Lisa off the Pitocin so she could eat something besides crushed ice. I don’t think either one of us thoughts this experience would be boring, but it was pretty boring. The nurse said it was highly likely that something would start happening overnight, so we went to sleep, ready to leap into childbirth at a moment’s notice.
By the next morning, there was still nothing going on. I thought about just calling off this whole baby thing and going to see a movie, but apparently the doctors have a way of breaking a pregnant lady’s water, so that’s what they decided to do. Then she started having contractions. After a few hours of contractions, Lisa got the epidural, and everything slowed down again. She didn’t really get it in gear until 5 o’clock in the afternoon, when she was finally ready to start pushing.
I know some people say childbirth is beautiful, but those people are morons. Childbirth is horrible. Lisa told me afterwards that she’s been through things more painful than childbirth, but it all looked pretty awful to me. She pushed for three hours, and I felt like I wanted to vomit the whole time. I tried to take my mind off of things by trying to remember the names of all the companions on Doctor Who in order as well as all the names of as many aliens from Star Wars as I could remember. If someone had handed me a copy of the second volume of Sex Criminals, I would have read it.
There’s really nothing worse than seeing your wife in pain and knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop it. I started thinking both Lisa and the baby were going to die. I just wanted to the whole thing to be over and for us to all to go home, but it just seemed to be endless and everything was awful…
And then my son was born, and my whole life changed forever.