Becoming a Pronoun

On June 9th, we're getting an amniocentesis done. This will let us know that the baby is chromosomally hunky-dorry. Chances are slim, like in the 1% range, that there would be any problems, but still. You read about these things and freak out a little bit, whether you want to or not. All forms of prayer, wood-knocking, finger-crossing, lucky-rabbit's-foot-rubbing, and happy-dancing are accepted and appreciated.

It will also tell us, definitively, if it's a boy or a girl. I'm pretty sure a lab is involved so we're not going to walk out of the office with an answer, but will know in a few days or a week.

Thankfully, we don't live in the general area of any chemical plants, but a couple of other  things have pointed to us maybe having a girl. First, there's the fetal heart rate: if it's above 140 you're having a girl; below 140 for a boy. Ours was at 164. However, this old-wive's-tale has been scientifically disproven. (Google "fetal heart rate boy girl" for details.) Then, there's this article about mom's calorie-intake at the time of conception. The Mrs. was watching the calories with her friend, JC, at the time. 

Also, a friend and our tax accountant (self-determined 90% correct guess rate) have said it will be a girl. And even though I'm the first son of a first son, Pam is the first daughter of a first daughter of a first daughter of a first daughter.

People have already been asking if we want a boy or a girl. I myself asked this question of a former brother-in-law once and received the answer, "A healthy baby." I never forgot that and so it's become our answer (see paragraph 1 of this post). But after that, we divide along gender lines--Pam says girl, and I say boy. 

So, what will it be?


Fly a Kite

Something a dad should be able to do; I verified my ability to do so last Sunday. 
It was Waffle Sunday but we needed milk so I went to the store to get some milk. On the way there, being as it was Mothers' Day, I decided that my superstition could suck it (bad luck to wish a pregnant lady Happy Mothers' Day only 11 weeks in?) and I was going to do it up for Pam. Flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries, a not-so-sappy non-Hallmark card, lemon Italian soda, a couple of ribeyes... you know, the good stuff. I came home and made a couple of yogurt parfaits (is that redundant?) and then some waffles with berries on top and grade-A maple syrup.

Then, as it was really a beautiful day and Pam couldn't stand the thought of being indoors, we threw some stuff in a bag and went down to Zilker Park. We spread out a blanket and had some cheese and Italian soda in wine glasses (courtesy of this wine tote we hadn't had a chance to use yet). It was sunny and breezy and people were playing soccer and extreme frisbee, walking dogs, hanging out, and flying kites. A couple years back, maybe more, we'd gone out to a kite festival and bought one but had never flown it so we brought it with us. All I could think was that I needed to make sure I could do this because it seems like a can't-miss hit with the kids; I know it was for me. 

For a while, my dad lived across the street from a park, most of which was a big open field. Every so often, we'd go over with a kite and see how high up we could get it. Once, we took one of the dogs with us and Dad attached the string to her leash. It was pretty cool to watch Suzie the pug fly a kite.

But all those times, Dad had been the one to launch the kite. I would watch and sometimes he'd hand over the string and I'd hold it. It all seemed simple enough, but as I recalled, launching required running with the kite trailing behind you and getting some speed and wind to pick it up. It wasn't something I didn't think I could do, but it still seemed like some kind of skill or finesse would be needed, some (semi-)proper form of technique.

Maybe those were just on some not-so-windy days, or because he only had some too-short kid with him. Because we just had to let out some string and pull it tight as the other person let the kite go. Then we'd let our string out and try to keep it up as long as we could, adjusting for the gusts, and hoping it wouldn't dive-bomb into anybody. Except maybe for the people who didn't look after their dog, which tried to eat our cheese. (Never, and I mean never, go after a Whitehouse's cheese uninvited. Or be ok with pulling back a bloody stump.)

This parenthood thing... it can be daunting if you think about it too much. There's a lot to learn/consider/digest. I find myself singing the theme song from Smokey & the Bandit, or at least the line "we've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there..." just to keep myself in check. And I know that there's plenty you just can't prepare for and will totally be on-the-job training (hello diaper changing) but I figure it can't hurt to learn a thing or two in advance. 

Kite-flying can now be checked off the list.


9 weeks 5 days

Our first doctor visit was this past Thursday.

There was a barrage of questions to be answered and we had plenty to ask. Then, the examining room. And the table. One with stirrups. Guys don't have tables like that, so what followed was what you might call a new experience for me. One that's probably pretty rare for a guy to experience except in a case like this, or if he's a gyno. I'm not saying I'm scarred or anything, far from it. I'm just saying that I can check this off my list, even though it hadn't really been on the list until I walked thru the door.

The exam over, we moved to the main event--the sonogram (or ultrasound; the terms are interchangeable).

Cue flashback--------------

Home pregnancy tests are very accurate these days, like 99% accurate, or so all the boxes say. And as you can see below, the one we got was very 21st century. No confusion over a blue line or a purple cross or anything like that. In no uncertain terms, an LCD screen with the word, "Pregnant." March 22nd & 23rd were pretty surreal for us, for me at least. Here was this thing you buy at the Walgreen's telling you there was a little person growing inside you(r wife). That can kinda blow your mind because there's a bit of intangibility going on with it. Yeah, the box says it's 99% accurate, more than that even, but is it really? I mean you don't even have to talk to the pharmacist to get one, though sometimes you'd like a college-educated degree holder to at least give you a thumbs up--"EPT? That's my brand!"--, as opposed to the checkout clerk just asking if you want a receipt.

And then there's the emotions. 
Excitement: "Holy shit, we're preggers!" 
Anxiety: "We've got so much to do and we're already behind." 
Joy: "My boys can swim!" 
Fear: "How can I do this?" 
Wonder: "Oh. My. God." 
Trepidation: "Oh. My. God." 
They were all there; to say otherwise would be a disservice to the Truth. If I'd forgotten what it was like to ride a rollercoaster, that weekend certainly brought it back.

Our box came with two tests, so on Monday the 24th, Pam did the second one. Same readout on the LCD--"Pregnant." We'd been turned on to a doctor by a friend of hers so Pam called to set up an appointment. They wouldn't set up an appointment until she was eight weeks along. That timed out with when I would be in California working the Coachella music festival (Prince!), and she wanted me to go with her, and I wanted to go with her, so the appointment was scheduled for May 1st, after I got back. They told her they'd do a sonogram to confirm that yes, there was a baby present.

Argh. Just over a month of waiting for what for me would be final super doubleplusgood confirmation. We're talking visual, baby, or maybe that should be: visual baby. Some things you can tell me and I'll believe it, take it on faith. And there are certain other things that I need to see with my own two eyes to believe, in spite of whatever the FDA approved-Walgreen's sold-99% accurate-21st century marvel of technology might have told me. Seeing an image, however blob-like I imagined it might be, would make it real. Tangible.

Until then, to know what was happening, we would have to rely on what we read. Pam subscribed to weekly updates from babycenter.com to tell us how things were progressing. Each week, they compared our embryonic-American to a new fruit or vegetable. Lentil. Blueberry. Kidney bean. Grape. And tell us how it was growing--what systems and features were developing, the appearance of what would be hands and feet, the first beats of its heart. It was fascinating, yet still intangible. 

And sometimes it made me hungry. Mmmm... kidney beans.

----------------End flashback

The doctor put some jel--(I should introduce her, she's only probably going to be the 4th major character here. The name's Binford, Dr. Nancy Binford (old picture)). So she put some jelly on a thing (she called it a wand, but I was not reminded of Harry Potter) and inserted it. (Sidebar: at this stage of the game, The Grape is still too small to be seen by a sonogram sliding over the belly, so this one is vaginal. It's like a PSA, people: the more you know....) 

"Yup, there's a baby in there," Dr. Binford said.

She turned the monitor so we both could see it.


And it (the image, not the kid) was so much more than just the blob I thought it might be. Maybe it's because it's a profile view, but I was so glad that I could instantly tell what was what. All the other ones I've seen have to point out what's the head, the hands, the feet. Or maybe our embryonic-American just kicks total ass. Regardless, The Grape was now much more.

Now, I just wanted to hear that heartbeat. I needed to hear it. And then, as if on cue, Dr. Binford said, "Let's see if we can hear that little heart beat." She flipped a switch. (or maybe she hit a button. My eyes were, obviously, transfixed elsewhere.) 

And there it was. (This is a sample of a 13 week fetus; what we heard was faster.) 164 beats per minute, a very healthy drum n bass beat.

Visual and aural tangibility.

Dr. Binford may have said something else but I couldn't hear much of anything over the rush of endorphins and tingling in my temples. At that moment, I had neither fear nor anxiety, just love and a desire to see what would happen next....

...we're in week ten now... kumquat, in case you were wondering.

March 22nd