The first thing I have learned is that my role in all of this is negligible. My wife's obstetrician made that abundantly clear when I made the catastrophic mistake of attending an appointment. What I found is that my contribution to anything beyond insemination is purely optional. There was not a single question I asked to which the reply was not: It doesn't matter.
Should I exercise more?
Should I stop smoking?
Should I get more sleep?
Is there anything I should do about my diet?
It doesn't matter.
But the doctor did have a great deal to say to my wife and, frankly, the language she used was absurd. Am I really supposed to know what a uterus is? I mean, does everyone?
Apparently my wife thinks they do.
"How in the world can you not know what a uterus is?" she asked.
"Well," I said, "I don't have one."
"You don't have a satellite dish, either. But you know what that is."
"Do you know what rack-and-pinion steering is?" I asked.
"Well, you see," I said, "I don't make fun of you."
"I cannot believe you would compare rack-and-pinion steering to my uterus."
I realized there was no good end to this conversation.
"Well, does anyone want to tell me what a uterus is?" I asked.
Without blinking, the doctor pulled down a roll-up picture of a frontally nude woman with her abdominal cavity on display. And I immediately regretted not having pursued the rack-and-pinion line of questioning. By the time she finished, I needed a stiff drink.
That was how we began the horrifying process of insemination, which I must say bears absolutely no resemblance to actual sex. As Tom says to himself in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. . . . Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." I was stunned at how quickly sex started to seem like work when it became something my body was obliged to do.
Let's do it now, honey. Seinfeld starts in eight minutes.
I actually spoke those words. What has become of me?
Though, on the positive side, I will say this: There is something liberating about a sexual experience where the sole objective is to get it over with as quickly as possible. It alleviates all the pressure. And all she wants to do is get it done and then lie flat on her back with her feet in the air like a T-square, anyway. She's just as happy as you are if it's over in time for Seinfeld.
So eventually it happened. Three months of that and away we go. I would describe my wife's overriding emotion as relief; she has so many friends who've had trouble getting pregnant, she's behaving as though the hard part is behind us. Me, though, I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a giant cliff and cannot see what is waiting for me once I go over. There isn't a hint of euphoria or delight or even joy. All I feel is a distant but heavy sense of dread. We'll see how that changes--if it does--as time goes on.
Dr. Gray has recommended that I keep this diary for the duration of the pregnancy. I pledge to be diligent in doing so, even though I have some doubt as to how much good will come of it. I figure, if nothing else, maybe it will make for interesting reading someday.
Note to self: At some point, make sure you write a letter to unborn child. A tad kitschy, perhaps, but an idea I find appealing. Perhaps I'll read it at the kid's wedding someday and everyone will cry at the majesty of it. Be sure to write it majestically.