Sure, I have a few pictures of my baby. I even have a 20-minute videotape of an anthropic cobwebby figure jiggling about that I’m told is of my child. And then there’s the fact that M’s figure has changed noticeably and that something in her swollen belly (or is it a well-executed pregnancy suit?) taps and rolls and lava lamps like crazy until I come over to feel the activity (at which point the supposed baby arrests all movement). But in spite of all this evidence, it still hasn’t really hit me yet that within a month or so, I’ll be a dad.
We’ve both had this sort of thought. It’s kind of a “what kind of nut is in charge who would let us have a kid?” feeling. Not that we’re not responsible or perfectly capable of raising a child. It just seems bizarre. We’ll be in charge of someone, will effectively own her. When you upgrade from goldfish to a dog, you’ve moved from a flushable to an unflushable pet. This upgrade from (debatably and vaguely) disposable pets like cats and dogs is so much bigger.
For M, it’s been more real for longer, not least of all because she’s the victim of all the kicking and rolling and pitching. It’s less real to me. I’ve worried a bit because I’m not as excited as I’ve thought I should be. M actively wants to hold the baby, but I’ve still been sort of lackadaisical about it, happy to have another month or so of time for myself. I think this is natural, but it doesn’t decrease my concerns. I’m not the warmest person, after all, and while I know I’ll love my kid, there is that nagging irrational worry that maybe I’ll turn out to be too unfeeling for parenthood. I’ve been planning a longer entry about this that states my concerns and their resolutions more thoroughly, but I’m not ready to write that one yet, and I wanted to record some news:
My Baby has a Head!
How do I know this? How is this any different from the no doubt digitally-fabricated pictures and videos I’ve already got of my child? How is it different from the pounding and undulation produced from within the bowels of M’s well-crafted animatronic pregnancy suit? I don’t know, but it is.
Let’s forget for a moment the logistics of a doctor’s discovering that my baby has a head and concentrate on the findings. If you’re at all familiar with pregnancy lingo, you’ll know that effacement describes the thickness of the cervix. When you’re 0% effaced, you’ve got big walls of cervix blocking entry into (or out of) the uterus. When you’re 100% effaced, you’ve got at most a very thin membrane barring the way. Dilation describes the diameter of the cervical opening. You typically do the final pushing to bear a child when you’re dilated 10 cm. (Again, try to avoid the visual here and just think about the math and the ramifications.) M found out this morning that she’s 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated. Which means that the doctor was able to touch the baby’s head.
Which makes things seem for the moment very much more real. Of course, this could be an extension of the conspiracy between M and the doctor, but for the time being, I’ll suspend my skepticism and accept that contact has been made.