Friday, October 11, 2013

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Baby Making Season (Why do discussions about having babies make my husband nauseous?) Part II

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Mel downloaded a few iPad apps to help monitor her cycle: My Day’s, Period Tracker, Period Diary… My favorite was the Strawberry Pal. This application used strawberries to signify days when she was on her period and bananas to show when she was the most fertile. One of the calendars, I cannot recall which one, allowed her to log how many times we’d had sex that day. Sex showed up as hearts. On one day there were two hearts and a smiley face.
“What does the smiley mean,” I asked.
“It means I was in a good mood,” She said.
“Was it because we had sex twice that day.”
“No,” she said. She shook her head and scrunched her face like that was a crazy idea. “I can’t recall why I was in a good mood that day, but I doubt it had anything to do with sex.”
It is in moments like these that make me feel like a failure in the bedroom.

Banana = Fertility

She seemed to constantly be consulting these calendars. Showing me the banana days with a sly smile that seemed to say, Buckle up, buddy, and letting me know how accurate this calendar was at predicting her period.
“It was exact,” she said. “It knew the very day I was supposed to start.” She spoke like the calendar was an intimate friend, a confidant, that she could tell anything about our sex life, and that knew everything about her inner workings, and I recall looking at the sparse hearts and thinking that even when we were trying to have a baby, we still had a sad amount of sex. The hearts were scattered along the calendar, one here, and one there. Seeing it all visually made me feel pathetic, particularly when I considered how spent I felt.
Strawberry = Infertility

It happened much faster than I expected. We didn’t have any false alarms or several months of anticipation leading up to let down. We didn’t have to visit any doctors to ask the difficult question: why can’t we get pregnant. In fact, it only took one month of trying. I had mixed feeling about this. I was proud of myself for being so fertile. Clearly I was a lion, or a stallion, or some other kid of animal that is associated with masculinity and sexual prowess. But I was a little let down because I wanted to continue having more sex. I also like the idea of having a little more time to change my mind.
I got the news in Chicago. I was attending a conference for work. I was two hours ahead of Mel, so I was asleep when she sent a photo to my phone of a little white stick she’d peed on. It said, “yes,” in black letters. There was no caption, but none was needed.
I stayed in bed for a while. My boss was sleeping in the bed across from me. Most of the night it sounded like he’d been impersonating a whale with his long gargling intakes of air and sloppy exhales. I was tired from traveling and the conference and the long noisy night. But once I saw the text, I was suddenly awake.

Dreaming of Whales

When Mel told me she was pregnant with Tristan, I sat down in the shower and cried. I was a mix of fear and anxiety. All of it was terrifying and I didn’t know just how to cope with it. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about that. When Mel told me she was pregnant the second time, I felt a similar feeling of fear and anxiety, only this time it was not as strong. Nevertheless, I still got real quiet and locked myself in the bedroom for a while. As I write, I am starting to realize that I am much more emotional than I'd like. But this time, I just looked at the phone. I wondered if I could handle the sleepless nights, poopy bums, and messy sofas. I thought about how the kids will now outnumber us. They were in control now.
I went to the lobby and called Mel. When she picked up I said, “Here we go again.”
She laughed.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I think so.”
I thought about the ebb and flow of my life. I thought about the joy mixed with frustration that children bring.
I went back to my room. My boss was awake now. He was a tall Latin man with a little gray in his hair and trimmed beard. He was wandering around in a red pair of boxer briefs. I must have looked different, because he asked if something was wrong.
“We’re having another baby,” I said.
“Congrats,” he said. “You look terrified.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I do that when it comes to babies.”
“Well,” He said. “You’re a spiritual guy. You’re in God’s hands now. Have faith that he’ll pull you through.”
 And then I thought about my original feeling that God had wanted this. That it was meant to happen. And indeed, I do consider myself a spiritual person. However, I don’t like to bolster that. I am not the kind of person to get choked up when talking about God and blessings and spiritual things. I try not to talk about them unless asked and I make an effort to keep my religion out of my Facebook page. And I suppose it seems strange to even write about my faith because I have always felt that it should be kept private. But what my boss said really rang true. I’d spent a few years away from God, and I recall feeling like a ship without a rudder, wandering about life, wondering what might happen next. I felt like I was at the whims of fate. But because of my faith, I felt more in control. I felt like I had someone in my corner. And that seemed to make all the difference. It was my third child, and I was a little frightened. But I felt more optimistic than ever before.
I thought about Tristan holding my hand the night he was born. I thought about the sweet feeling I get every time Norah gave me a checkup with her Fisher-Price doctor kit. I thought about hide and seek, tickle time, snuggle time, the words, “I love you daddy”, evening family prayers, and family dinners. I thought about how Christmas morning was exciting again because I was so eager to see Tristan and Norah open their presents. I thought about how kids made it socially acceptable for me to get dressed up on Halloween, and how much fun I had playing the Easter Bunny. Every holiday was more exciting with kids. Despite the bills, the messes, and the fits, my life had only gotten sweeter with Tristan and Norah. I supposed it would be the same with a third child.


If you enjoyed this essay, you will also enjoy, "The Covered Wagon (Why is my husband so proud of his farts?)."


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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University. 

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