Sunday, July 05, 2015

Dramatis Personae

Dramatis Personae

My good friend, Minifred, is pregnant. Her first. And, oh my, her head has been in the clouds for days on end. She walks with a bit of a jig in her step, a skip-to-my-lou happiness that makes her seem to float through the air. She talks with a giggle in her voice, and every few minutes she purses her lips just so.


No, just so ... just like she is about to accept a kiss from Brad Pitt.

When spoken to, she tilts her head right and then left, as if she is intent of hearing every last syllable you say, but if truth be known, she hears little if anything at all. She is busy having a inner dialogue with Baby Bumbly.

"Hello, baby," she coos in her head, and her voice zooms along her muscles and nerves, which are like Super Hi-Speed DSL lines that run from her brain to her womb.

The connection never falters or stalls like it does most days for me. Everything is instantaneous, and on the wide screen monitor of Minifred's imagination, she sees Baby Bumbly taking shape and even responding to her cooing.

I can't say what the baby says back to her, but I think it's safe to say that baby isn't bleating, "Next time, hold the anchovies, beatch."

Well, baby might be saying that, but I suspect he or she is probably saying things like, "I love my mommy, my sweet, sweet, pretty mommy ..." OK. That sounds a little silly and romantic, I guess, but I suspect there's a fair bit of silly stuff that goes on between a mother and a baby inside of her.

Fathers don't get to be so lucky. For fathers, there really is no early inner dialogue with Baby Bumbly. No matter how many times he googles it, the screen of his cerebral cortex always returns a 404 - Page Not Found or an Access Denied message.

For most guys, that's not a serious problem. In the first months of pregnancy, most guys like to spend a fair amount of time replaying the act of conception by making love to their partner as much as possible. Men have a Play-Doh mentality. For whatever reason, fathers-to-be think that the more sperm the better, kind of as if conception is an ongoing process for the first trimester. You see, men harbour a whole range of conspiracy theories, and the notion of one-sperm/one-egg seems about as unlikely as the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter that fateful day in Dallas. It's either that, or there's something really sensual about post-conception sex.

Eventually, fathers do get to talk and listen to Baby Bumbly as well. When Minifred's tummy gets to be significantly oversized, her partner will be invited to put his ear down and listen for a heartbeat. This is strictly a dial-up, hit-or-miss situation. Every eager father-to-be puts his ear over that once cute bellybutton that has suddenly become a runaway "outie," and he listens.

Some hear something; some hear nothing at all. In either case, it's best if he says that he can hear the baby singing "Amazing Grace." Of course, that's a lie, but it's a lie that is OK with God. You don't catch fire or get a mark against you in the Big Black Book of the Hereafter for trying to make an expectant mother feel good. After all, she feels like she has swallowed a pumpkin, she is hiding a severe case of hemorrhoids, and her bra size is doubling every week.

The simple truth is that men are clearly left outside the blessed events of childbirth. Fathers who say things like, "We're pregnant!" will clearly burn in Hell someday. Men don't have babies. Women have babies.

If pregnancy is like a play, then the male roles are minor in nature. The mother is the star of the show. She gets the spotlight and all the great lines. She is in every scene and spends more time in the costume department than anyone else. When push comes to shove on Baby Bumbly's zero birthday, she is the one who suffers the rise and fall of dramatic agony right up to the final gushing denouement, after which the curtain falls and the applause begins.

So my advice to fathers is to be as helpful as possible, maybe get a second job, and be sure to trade in the convertible for a minivan.

Above all else, be patient.

When the custody battle begins and there's child support to be paid, you WILL be the star of that show.



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