This is a warning: I am going to discuss pregnancy and the freaky things that happen to a woman (and the father) when she's pregnant. And remember, I am a dull, somewhat dimwitted man.
"Put your hand on my stomach," she says, "The baby is moving all over the place." I cautiously reached my hand over to the passenger side of the car as we crawled through Dan Ryan Expressway traffic on the way to work. There was no escape, so I had to give her belly a rub. After fifteen seconds or so, I pulled my hand back. "Oh well, too bad, didn't feel anything."
"Put your hand back, sometimes it takes a little while." That's ok, I thought I gave it a shot and nothing happened. But, instead, I responded like the insensitive lout that I am, "You know, that kind of freaks me out." Mistake.
I won't go into the whole discussion that ensued. Suffice to say, there was a certain amount of angst, disappointment and bewilderment that was communicated and which focused on the differences between what a man "feels" and what a woman goes through during a pregnancy. The angst then being primarily directed to the male's unwillingness to fully participate in the pregnancy experience.
Let's get something straight here (as I attempted to communicate), I'm not completely unwilling to participate in the grandiosity of the movement of a baby in a woman's midsection, I just get freaked out by the way it feels. I fully recognize that it is selfish and lacks sensitivity. It just reminds me of the old Kevin Bacon movie "Tremors" in which the residents of a small town defend themselves against strange underground creatures which are killing them one by one. The underground creatures crawl close to the surface and the people in the town, primarily Kevin Bacon and the people isolated at the gas station, can see and feel their movements from above. It may be a tortured analogy, but sorry that's what I think about.
Recognizing and realizing the errors of my ways and the faults that every male is born with, I tried to overlook the fact that ultrasound exams freak me out even more than the underground-to-surface baby movement. (I'm no rookie at this pregnancy stuff since I have four kids from my previous marriage and have always been an "involved" father, however you want to define that term.) "Just think about it from my perspective," I tried to reason. A lady with a greased up wand rubs it over the woman's stomach and you can see a baby moving around in there. It's all too sci-fi in my world. Nevertheless, I promised to give the ultrasound process another shot.
As soon as I agreed to sit, watch, listen, learn and keep my mouth shut, I was provided with a previously undisclosed yet essential fact:
Ultrasound is Now Live and in 3D!
And you don't need 3D glasses.
I was already in, and in deep, so I had no choice. I went to the appointment - willingly I might add - to participate in all of the greasing, rubbing, beeping and buzzing that seems to accompany the ultrasound ritual, only now with an added third dimensional twist.
It happened quite quickly. As the wand was making it's way over the rotund orb that is now my wife's belly, the first phase was the normal process during which I haltingly look at the screen and where I can't tell the difference between an arm and an italian sausage from Al's Beef. The ultrasound technician is measuring things, telling us lengths, gestation age, weight, but all I see appears to me as gravy and soup bones.
Then, things changed. I wanted 3D glasses; no, I wanted blackout glasses. The technician hit a button and everything in the room shifted (figuratively). Instead of the flat, placemat look of the baby's face that appeared on the prior images, now we could see the nose, the lips, the eyes, eyebrows and cheeks. If the Chicago Symphony had started playing in the background I wouldn't have been surprised. The technician made more adjustments, hit a couple of different buttons and the machine began pumping out prints of the 3D images. And, my wife was in heaven - cue the music.
"Oh, my God! Look at those cheeks. Whose nose is that? Those lips are so cute..." I was having trouble breathing. "John, look at the little dimple." I tried to respond. "Yep," I said, "that's something." Best I could do.
Then, the technician took things an unauthorized step further. She said to my wife, "I can send these images to your phone via text if you give me your cell number." Needless to say, her cell phone is now chock full of 3D images of this child who is scheduled to arrive in the first week of February and which have been shared with friends and family (those who have the courage to look). I try to look at the images, I really do, but it just seems...wrong, for some reason. Maybe because it looks like there's a tree growing out of the baby's head. Or, maybe some things are best left to the imagination.
You be the judge.
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