Week 8: Redux

I was sitting in my weekly enrollment department meeting when my cell phone started vibrating; vibrating practically off my belt. After three shots at ignoring the thing, I snuck out to the hall to check voicemail. It was Kira.

"Hi Peter," she always calls me Peter, unless she’s talking about me, then its Pete. "I’m feeling very pregnant. I was just listening to the Public Radio pledge drive and someone started talking about an OPB briefcase and I just started bawling in the parking lot." Whew. This is good.

See, at our first appointment with the doc last Friday, we were told that we’re early. By our calculations, we were eight-weeks-going-on-nine, but the officials said that at nine millimeters we’re really at seven-weeks-going-on-eight. Nonsense. That means we’ve had to live the last week over again. All the reading we’ve been doing, the studious deliberation over names and colors and genders, it all had to be put on hold. For a week.

Now, why is it important that Kira’s bawling in a parking lot? Because even though the tests say we’re pregnant, the doctors and nurses concur, and we’ve seen the fetus with it’s beating heart and all, until Kira starts to show a bit, there’s doubt. And every symptom we can catalogue in favor of pregnancy lends more credibility to the whole situation.

This has so far made me something of a pill of a husband. Usually, if Kira says she’s sick or down, I do my best to comfort her, get her drugs, be a good guy. I’m just doing what mom taught me. Now, though, it’s all I can do to keep from cheering when she starts listing off her symptoms. Nauseous? Good. Dizzy? Excellent. Starving and craving? Couldn?t be better. Cranky? NOW we?re talking!

I fully acknowledge that this is not the best thing I can be doing for our marriage, but after prolonged periods of her pregnancy-doubt, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t start to rub off. In the realm of Catch 22, she came home from work one day this week sad that she hadn?t felt sick at all. Par for the course, if you ask me.

So, as of Saturday, October 19, we’ll be entering week nine. We’ve known for four weeks now, and the couvade has officially perched.

Couvade, if you’ll remember from last week, means "to hatch" in middle-French. Apparently it?s not even as simple as that: in the olden days, French men would ? by tradition ? take to bed themselves upon the birth of a child, as if giving birth, all the while subjecting themselves to fasts, purification, and other rituals. Today, it?s taken on a different flair. As it happens, somewhere between 11 and 67 percent of men begin to take on the symptoms of their pregnant others throughout the first trimester.

For example, I’m tired. No, I’m not just sleepy, I’m coma tired. I can’t move. I can’t drive. I can hardly see straight. Getting up in the morning takes an act of congress.

I have a friend at work that just had a baby about three months ago. As I was confiding my lethargy she told me that over the entire course of her pregnancy, she gained a total of 24 pounds. She’s since lost it all. Her husband on the other hand gained 30 pounds and has yet to lose a drop. And of Megan and Ted: The Strands? Ted’s gained 12 pounds in the eight or so weeks they?ve known.

I’ve gained four, so far.

The weight-gain poses an additional challenge, certainly above and beyond the ridicule of couvade. All the books say that Kira should now be eating six small meals a day. I hang out with Kira a lot; when she eats, I eat. If I’ve done my arithmetic right, that means I’m eating a total of six meals a day. That’s 42 meals a week. Good golly, that’s 186 meals a month or over 1,674 individual meals over the duration of the pregnancy. This figure doesn’t include the crates of Original Saltines and Ginger Ale. We shared a jar of pickles just last night. This whole ?eating? thing could get very expensive.

As of the doc appointment and the healthy thumbs up from those in the know, Kira and I agreed that it would be kosher to start spreading the word to the world. On that word, the parents began an ad campaign worthy of Microsoft; dad had pictures on a mass distribution list, mom ran the phone banks. Mother-in-law Bev actually had a wall-sized flip-chart map with dozens of potential candidate alternatives for "Grandma." Those in the family already: Boots, Grammie, and E-ma. We’ll have to wait and see where we land when the votes are finally counted.

So, week eight. Technically, it?s still an embryo thanks to the tail it?s wagging in utero, but that?s going to be disappearing over the next few weeks. Kira?s mom sent her first pair of elastic waistband pants and a few baby books over which she had a few more tears. Check one more for the symptom checklist. Needless to say, we’re thrilled to be moving forward once again, caught up to our official schedule. I’ll check you all next Saturday. Until then, have a happy and healthy week.