Cheeseburger Brown CHEESEBURGER BROWN: Novelist & Story-wallah
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The Trimester Reports, by Cheeseburger Brown - on owning and maintaining a baby human being.
First Trimester Report

"My meatsack is the size of a grapefruit!"

That is the sound of my wife discovering things about the workings of her uterus (occupied), from one website or another. One of the ways we have of coping with the strangeness of my wife having somebody growing inside of her is to find things about it that make us giggle, and calling her uterus her "meatsack" has somehow ended up on that list. This is not to disparage her uterus, mind you. We're big fans of the uterus. I'm sure that it is among my wife's favourite organs. Goodness knows it can stand a little gentle ribbing. So "meatsack" it is.

That being said, my wife's meatsack is the size of a grapefruit; the person living in there is currently called Baby, and Baby's been baking for almost three months now. This is my First Trimester Report.

Apparently, Baby is about 10 cm tall, and half of that height is Baby's giant head. Baby's still somewhat fish-like face is experimenting with rudimentary sucking motions, and Baby takes the occasional piss for diagnostic purposes. If Baby is a girl, Baby has already grown all of her ova. Baby has taste-buds. There are all sorts of websites crammed with lurid multimedia, if you're interested in drilling down for more detail. They range from encyclopaedia-like articles and illustrated calendars to vehicles for anti-abortionist propaganda.

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This pregnancy was planned only in the sense that we vaguely planned to have children one day. In the weeks leading up to our wedding, we both noticed that my normally iron-gutted lover was having trouble keeping crackers down. Next came dizzy spells and pronounced moodiness. Within days, the results of the blood-test were in: get ready for Baby.

She had been taking one of those new-fangled ultra-low dosage birth control pills that also clears up your skin. The commercials for these products are enigmatic works when viewed in Canada (where, for reasons best discussed elsewhere, the law forbids prescription drug companies from identifying what their product actually does without a doctor present to advise the patient): teen nymphettes with supernaturally clear skin hop over abstract obstacles and run around in slow-fast motion with gay men and tell us we don't need to worry anymore.

One thing not featured in the commercial is tainted tunafish.

When my wife ate tainted tunafish, she briefly became a moaning, whiny fountain of vomit. For a day, not even water would stick down. When she had recovered, we tried to be mindful of the fact that she may well have thrown up her birth control pill. That's the night Baby began. Either we were not mindful enough, her innards were storing some of my genome-propagating minions in waiting from a prior encounter, or we were lucky enough to be that small but statistically significant number of people for whom the pill fails.

Many of our friends and relatives seemed shocked and angry that somebody could become pregnant while taking the birth control pill. "It isn't a guarantee," my wife told people. Myself, I preferred to say that the pill is only effective approximately 9999 times out of 10 000 -- therefore, we must have had intercourse at least one thousand times (that's how statistics work, right?). At any rate, we were informed users of the pill and we're not about to start writing angry letters to pharmaceutical companies. We knew the risks.

It should be noted for the purposes of information that, because we did not yet know about Baby, my wife continued to employ the pill for some 5 weeks after conception. Though we had worried that this could have a significant impact on Baby's early development, this does not appear to be the case (especially with the low-dose variety of pill). So, if you end up in the same situation, don't freak out -- some women have ended up taking the pill until nearly the end of their first trimester without any apparent adverse effects. We have been told that it is less dangerous for Baby than taking aspirin.

So, although the upcoming arrival of Baby has put a serious crimp in my wife's plans to pursue her doctorate in neurolinguistics, and has caused me to reschedule (yet again) the production of my next animated short, we were still very pleased to make room for Baby in our lives. From the start, we decided to focus on the positives.

We discussed abortion. Though we both wanted to keep Baby come what may, it seemed like to good idea to make sure we saw eye to eye on the thorny issues anyway. Naturally, we'd talked about the subject before, but the conversation is different when you're talking about "Baby" rather than "a baby".

Neither of us felt like termination was a defensible option in our current situation, since it would amount to nothing more than abusing medical abortion as a form of birth control. Would we consider termination if Baby tested positive for Down's Syndrome? We decided not, after some discussion. Our policy now is that the only circumstance under which we would consider termination would be if my wife's health were to be in serious and immediate jeopardy. This is not a religious or metaphysical consideration as much as a feeling that we are already morally committed to this small thing's life. Whether or not Baby is a "person" or has a soul, we invited Baby to exist (by having sex a lot), and we intend to make good on that invitation (at least until Baby is teenaged). We wouldn't flush a fish down the toilet just because we didn't want it, so why shouldn't Baby have the same kick at the can?

Getting ready for our new lives rides between being daunting and being exhilarating. We are excitedly deciding who will speak what language when to Baby, so that Baby will have our combined competence in English, French and Latvian. We have decided to move out of our apartment and rent a house instead, so that Baby can have a backyard. I have acquired several recordings of crying babies, which I will play through the day when I am working in order to aid my acclimation to a work day of filtering Baby's caterwauling out of my consciousness (a necessity for somebody who works from home). We've ear-marked my wife's iBook as a possible first computer once Baby is ready for such things. We talk about child-proofing my office, and making sure none of our cats sleep on Baby's face. We wonder whether the dog will be jealous.

We are quickly coming to hate the way that everyone and their grandmother is a self-appointed expert in gestation if they've ever been pregnant, stood beside somebody pregnant, or just watched a lot of those Leonart Nilsson documentaries on TV.

For some reason, many mothers suffer from the delusion that their experience is universally applicable. They become sullen if you don't appear to be as enthusiastic and certain about their advice as they are. What is it about our society (or species) that causes crones to descend like vultures to a kill, squawking out as many home-remedies, rumours, anecdotes, nightmares and earnest gems of wisdom as they reasonably can while pausing to breathe? I think I might scream if one more well-meaning dotard tries to get me to acknowledge that we are witnessing a "miracle" before our very eyes. Why do normally intelligent people begin giving advice that boils down to things as nonsensical as telling us not to trust the advice of any established medical authorities, but do take heed of superstitious rumours about how living in the same house as a microwave oven will make your baby retarded.

Of course, doctors can be ridiculous about pregnancy, too. Many of them seem to view pregnancy as some kind of affliction or disease. In the event of a medical crisis, we would surely seek out treatment from a physician -- but pregnancy isn't a medical crisis in and of itself. My wife's body knows what it is doing. When it wants something, it generates a craving (she's been going ga-ga for tomato juice). When it needs more fuel, my wife gets sleepy (conscious brains are high-drain devices, after all). When it needs more fluid, she gets thirsty. Not rocket science.

Planning for the delivery day itself has been interesting, and remarkably easy. Because Ontario is such a midwife-friendly province (they are not all so) and because we live in a big stinky megatropolis, we had no trouble at all finding a conveniently located centre of midwifery. Our crack team of baby specialists is composed of a mature midwife, her padawan-learner, and an auxiliary midwife who we likely will not meet until she's paged to the scene when the dilation of my wife's cervix is complete. They are available to answer our questions at all hours of the day and night. They will facilitate all of our dealings with the hospital, and manage any testing. They will supply us with a collapsible heated birthing tub, to make water-birthing at home as simple as possible. They will visit us at home for two weeks following the delivery, assisting with getting breast feeding on solid footing if such help is necessary. Since midwives are considered primary care providers by the government, we will experience all of this care without laying down a dime. (Thank you, Ontario.)

The emotional planning had been more complex. While we are both very, very happy about the coming of Baby, it would be foolish to ignore the pockets of less enthusiastic feelings entirely. My wife is disappointed that her scholastic career has been interrupted, and she wonders what will happen to her thirst for research once she's been through the thick of some full-time mommying. She thinks about the future, and wonders who she will be other than Baby's mother and my wife.

Myself, I have had to admit to myself the presence of some amount of irrational resentment against Baby. This is partly because Baby caused our honeymoon to be considerably more filled with nausea and discussions of vaginal spotting than I had originally imagined, and considerably less hot sex. I wanted my wife all to myself for a while longer, and I am a little annoyed at Baby for taking that away. The months leading up to the wedding were so chaotic and busy, we hardly got to see one another. I miss her, and was looking forward to a few peaceful months of being focused on one another. Now, everything is about Baby.

Baby is causing a lot of upheaval in our lives, and it won't likely stop for another quarter century.

One thing I do know with fair certainty: Baby will like it here. We are happy people who like to read books, learn and laugh. We live surrounded by plants, purring cats and a dog who is ridiculously enthusiastic about life in general. Our fish don't float. We eat yummy things, and listen to music. We're playful and we enjoy games. We don't smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco. Nobody goes to sleep angry. Petty reservations fade; Baby is welcome.

Yes, I am fully aware that this posting is more mushy than Disney, and I apologise to cynical readers everywhere for whom this might have been a nauseating reading experience (just take some deep, slow breathes and eat a cracker). Unless I get pelted with tomatoes after posting this first trimester report, I will be posting second and third trimester reports in the months to come.

I thank you for your attention / je vous remercie pour votre attention.

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CHEESEBURGER BROWN: Novelist & Story-wallah Cheeseburger Brown
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