Monday, August 14, 2006

D-day has arrived

Today is Christina's "official" due date. Unfortunately, due dates are just another instance of seemingly-precise data that actually have fairly low information content, because a due date is very loosely correlated with when the baby will actually be born -- 90% of first-time mothers deliver after their due date. It's looking reasonably likely that Christina will be among those 90%, although maybe our midwife will say something different when we go see her later today.

This brings me to a more general point about pregnancy that I didn't fully appreciate earlier: nothing is certain. Pretty much the only thing that's guaranteed is that the mother-to-be won't sprout an extra limb [externally, at least], but everything else is up for grabs -- whether she has morning sickness or develops weird food cravings, how much weight she gains, what size the baby is going to be etc. In retrospect, we might have been able to spare ourselves a few prenatal visits
because the vast majority of the answers to our "Is this normal ?"-type questions boiled down to "Everybody is different", which in plaintext means "We're not really sure. Call us if she wakes up one morning and is suddenly 7 feet tall and has a beard." In more fancy words, the probability distribution of just about every phenomenon associated with pregnancy has heavy tails.

Another lesson learned over the last few months: there's nothing like a prenatal visit for making a man feel invisible/irrelevant. It starts out in the reception area: every available magazine has a title made up of some combination of the words "Baby", "Parent[ing]", "Healthy", "Happy", "Infant" or "Mother". Men, when they are mentioned, usually occur in phrases like "How to make sure your husband doesn't drop the baby". I'm not saying I'd like them to have a bunch of issues of "Trucks, Guns and Hot Chicks" lying around, but it sure would be nice to have magazines other than ones that are so obviously not meant for men. And it gets worse when you see the actual midwife/nurse/doctor -- generally, I wasn't even acknowledged via a "hello" when this person came into the room, they just looked straight through me and started talking to Christina. Again, it's not that I want a cookie and a pat on the head for accompanying my wife to a prenatal visit, but it sure would be nice to be treated with an attitude conveying something other than "Oh, so you're the one who did this to her. Are you happy now ?"

And the final take-away from the last few months: it's a good thing I wasn't the one who had to be pregnant, because I don't think I'd have had the patience to deal with all the attendant aches and pains. Christina, in contrast, has been an absolute saint -- never once did she become the bitchy, moody person that pregnant women are so often portrayed as. But even sainthood wears thin -- she's very ready for the baby to arrive, and so am I.

So: time to leave the cocoon, little man ! The wide world, warts and all, awaits.


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