Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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What Goes Through A Husband’s Mind When His Wife Is Pregnant? Part III

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What Goes Through A Husband’s Mind When His Wife Is Pregnant? Part I

What Goes Through A Husband’s Mind When His Wife Is Pregnant? Part II

When we went to our first ultrasound, I recall being irritated because our insurance was only going to pay for 75% of it, leaving us with a bill for a few hundred dollars. “Do we even need to know what the baby’s sex is?” I asked. “Can’t it just be a surprise? You know, like Christmas.”
            Mel rolled her eyes and gripped her jeans. Her face was a little swollen around the chin and her face had developed red blotches that she couldn’t hide anymore regardless of how much makeup she applied. She was exhausted and miserable, and I think the only thing that kept her going was moments like we were about to have. The excitement of seeing the baby, hearing its heart, feeling its kicks. And I was ruining it. 

She drew her lips to a tight white line, looked me in the face, and said, “You’re not taking this away from me. I want to know if we are having a boy or a girl. You should too.”
She stopped speaking for a moment. Gave me a curt smile, and said, “Stop worrying about money and just get excited. Were having a baby!”
            She used this logic a lot. I was supposed to be just as excited as she was simply because we were having a baby. No other reason. But I wasn’t excited. I was everything but excited, and I recall realizing why some fathers ran off. I loved Mel. I also felt an obligation to her. But I often thought about how a lesser man could easily cave under the anxiety I was feeling every day. Perhaps it was these same emotions that made my father run off. And sometimes, I worried that I was not a better man than my father.
            At the hospital, Mel was placed in long reclining chair, something similar to what they have at the dentist’s office. She pulled up her shirt, and pulled down the stretchy brown cuff of her maternity pants. Her large, hard, round, stomach stuck out, and the nurse coated it with a smooth green jelly. She rubbed a flat-headed wand that was attached to cable, which attached to a screen, across from the recliner.
            A blurry, black and white image drifted in and out of focus on the screen. After a few adjustments to the monitor, and a few strokes with the wand, the baby was there, wiggling, shyly, one hand in a fist, the other open. I could make out the lips, the nose, and crown. I could see little feet and knees, and hips. I could see sockets for eyes and the roll of a small tummy. I could see a baby. My baby. Our baby. There was something about seeing it in the womb that made it real enough to melt my heart. This is just a fraction of what Mel had been feeling. She felt the baby grow inside her. Felt it kick, and tug, and wiggle, and roll around anxiously awaiting for its birthday. 

            All I’d felt was an occasional kick. Although I knew there was life in Mel’s stomach, I don’t think I really understood what that meant until I saw it, up on the screen. It seemed like a nuisance until then. Someone else’s irritating kid. But once I saw the curve of its nose and realized how much it looked like mine, I felt a flood of compassion.
            The nurse froze the screen. The she placed an arrow between the baby’s legs and typed, “boy.”
            I got really emotional then. I felt very attached. I thought about Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Legos, monkey bars, swing sets, video games, candy bars, skateboards, bicycles, monster trucks, the color blue, and the green of grass. I thought about places we could go do, and all the things I could teach him. I was a flood of excitement. It was sudden and overwhelming, like a switch had been pulled.
 We were having a baby! We were having a boy!
            Mel started to cry. And I will admit, I got a little choked up myself.
Things were different after the ultra sound. Up until that point I hadn’t bought our baby anything by myself. I’d left the shopping up to Mel. But that weekend, I went to the mall and bought a Super Man t-shirt that included a little utility belt. All I could think about was holding my boy in the air so he could fly. 
Tristan: age one

You would also enjoy, The Clog (Why is my husband too lazy to unclog the toilet?) Part I.

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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.