It's a...

Kira walked into her office yesterday and ran into a 60-year-old Laotian woman with whom she works her first step through the door. The woman, who may be a Voodoo Priestess for all I know, stopped Kira and put her hand on the bursting belly.

"Oh Kira," she says. "Oh, you are having a boy."

"How do you know?" Kira says sweetly.

"Oh, your belly is pointy." Kira nods at her. "And, if you were having a girl, you would be much more beautiful."

Apparently, that sort of comment isn’t rude in Laos. I’ve never been there. I don’t know.

If you ask me, Kira’s as beautiful as ever, popping, and laughing happily every time she takes a peek in the mirror. She really ballooned about last Thursday. We went to bed on Wednesday night and she was an even 135 pounds with a healthy belly, and woke up the next day a beach ball, cruising over the 140 lb mark. She’s got a new milestone in the "changing body" drama. First she wanted to start showing. Then she wanted it to start to kick. Then she wanted me to feel it kick. Now she wants her belly button to pop out. That’s one I never, ever expected.

I got to feel it kick for the first time a few weeks ago. It’s a fascinating experience, feeling my child kicking. First, there’s no experience that has yet made me feel more powerfully human, part of the massive reproductive chain and resident participant in the Circle of Life, than feeling the movement of my soon-to-be.

Second, I’ve never felt spiritually or physically closer to Kira. We came together in what normally amounts to a crafts project and the result is this kicking, punching, breathing, pooping, living thing. Our relationship has changed appreciably because of it: she’s funnier to me, even smarter, and certainly more beautiful than ever before.

Third, when I put my ear to her belly, I can hear the ocean.

Now that I can feel the little spud kicking and punching regularly, I’m realizing how long the next four months are going to be. She’s half-way pregnant, half-way to our delivery date anyway, and it’s becoming clear how unreasonable the 9-month gestation policy is.

So, week 20. Last week–Tuesday–we headed back to the ol’ clinic for the big ultrasound. If we had wanted to, this would have been our shot to find out the sex of the baby. Yeah, "we" didn’t want to. I mentioned in an earlier post about the on-going dialogue in which Kira and I were engaged regarding the discovery of gender. It would appear that I lost. For the record, this post notwithstanding, I’ve been a really good sport about the whole thing, refraining from bringing it up in public, holding back on the bedtime snips, and letting go of the general malaise all together. Finally, and if I’m asked to repeat this I’ll deny it, I’m starting to get into the spirit of the surprise, and the image of me under the hot hospital spotlights, standing between her legs with a catcher’s mitt, ready with my one, crucial part–the only thing I’ll have to think about from now until that last second, the penultimate climax in the script we started together so many months ago:

"It’s a…"

It’s getting pretty exciting.

So, we didn’t find out the sex, but we did found out the other important things: it’s healthy, with four limbs and twenty fingers/toes, everything’s formed just fine and all the bits and pieces are exactly where they need to be. We saw the brain and all its cracks and crevices, the heart beating a strong 141 beats-per-minute, and limbs flailing. It’s nine inches from head to rump this week, and the next few weeks are going to be big for bulking up. They took about 40-50 pictures from the session, but left us with only two: a nice shot of the foot, and a profile of the head from the chest up. Let me tell you, it looks like a strapping young lad if I ever saw one. I made sure to refer to the bean as a "him" throughout the session, and the ultrasound technician never once corrected me. Hmm….

All this scientific evidence aside, the only folks who ardently believe we’re having a girl are the Strands. Their 20-week picture show was around Christmas and they elected to find out the gender: it’s a girl. According to Ted "Grimmace" Strand, a little boy Wright can be nothing but a bad influence on a little girl Strand, therefore we have to have a girl. Still, they’re all happy and healthy, with a painted nursery and all, cruising up to their April due date. For the next few days after they got the news, I’d get a call every few hours from the Grimmace saying "Dude. I’m having a girl." Then he’d hang up. He’s taking it well, though given his yen for power tools and bacon fat, I think he’s wondering how he’s going to balance his own feminine side in the raising of a daughter. More than anything, it ought to be funny.

Behind me, there are three kids. They look to be about 10; I think they’re talking about being in the fourth grade. Right now, they’re telling one another about their grades.

"I got straight A’s."

"Yeah, right. I bet you got a big fat F."

"No, I’m in the fourth grade. You’re in the third, and you’re a girl."

Did I mention I’m sitting in Starbucks? Yes, and they’re drinking cocoas and fruit smoothies. I know Kira and I chose to live in this neighborhood, and drive a Volvo, and drink lattes, but does that mean we’re destined to raise ours to be just like us? I mean us?