So, Deena and I will be parents in early August. I say that with a degree of relative confidence but not absolute certainty about the date because we are not doing what some women in Deena’s prenatal yoga class are doing, which is scheduling their child’s births. “My doctor says that 37 weeks is long enough,” one woman said, “so I’ve scheduled my C-section for then.” The birthing industry has a term for this; it’s called having a “designer baby.”
Excuse me? Since when has the C-section, an incredibly invasive form of major surgery supposedly reserved for medical emergencies, become the moral equivalent of a boob job? Babies, as we’ve learned in all the reading and class-taking we’ve been doing, come out when they’re damn good and ready — assuming that everything proceeds normally. The most traumatic thing that happens to a newborn during birth is being cut off from its mother’s blood supply and being forced to breathe air, so it’s in the baby’s best interest not to come out until its lungs are fully developed. When the lungs are developed, the baby’s body releases a hormone that triggers the onset of its mother’s labor contractions. This process has been working for hundreds of thousands of years, and it compensates for the fact that not all babies are exactly the same. Who’s to say our baby’s lungs will be ready for the outside air at exactly 37 weeks? Let him decide.
Yes, it will be a “him.” We have a name pretty much picked out, but we’re keeping it top secret until the day. This is because we don’t want to take even the smallest chance that someone will go, “Hmm,” and wreck our enthusiasm. Our theory is that if we tell everyone after the fact, they’ll have no choice but to keep quiet and be happy for us. The only down side that I can see is that the baby’s very sweet and thoughtful great-grandmother won’t be able to finish embroidering the blanket she’s making for him until after he’s born. “What’s his name going to be?” she called to ask us. “And what day will he be born?”
As I hinted before, as part of the obligatory nesting instinct, we’re preparing for parenthood by reading lots of strange books and taking a childbirth course at the hospital. Between the two of us, it seems to be having an opposite effect. Deena says that the more she learns, the calmer and more in control she feels. (An exception to this was when she learned what an episiotomy is.) I, on the other hand, feel like I’m preparing for a final exam in some nightmare college course. Eight diaper changes a day? Breast feeding every two hours? What?
Gifts from our generous friends and family are beginning to pour in, and we’re lining the future nursery with many lovely boxes filled with things that all have instruction manuals. Deena thankfully took charge of assembling the first big item, the crib from Target that will convert into progressively larger beds as the child gets older. We dropped in a mattress and promptly covered it from head to toe with tinfoil in the hopes that our three cats will learn that the crib is a highly unpleasant place to be and there’s absolutely no reason why they would want to sleep on top of our child’s face like they do every morning with Deena.
Last night, we tackled the infant car seat. In hindsight, I see that it wasn’t the best time for me to do something requiring that much brain power. We’d just gotten home from our childbirth class where we watched two hours of bloody little heads popping out of women’s vaginas, and I wasn’t in the most optimal of mental places. But no matter; we were college graduates, and we could do this.
But infant car seats these days are no longer simple little affairs that snap in to your existing seat belts. They’re cocoons for astronauts. They come with 60-page instruction manuals, every page of which has red messages in biohazard-alert boxes reading, “WARNING: FAILURE TO PROPERLY ATTACH THE FOURTH INTERSPATIAL CROSS-STITCHING TO THE REVERSE BELT ANGLER SNAP WILL RESULT IN INJURY OR DEATH TO YOUR CHILD!!!!!!!!!”
The instructions are hideously complicated. The seat can be attached in one of three ways depending on your car’s belt arrangement, and can itself be configured in three different ways depending on your child’s weight and size. We thought we picked the correct chapter and were almost through all the steps — ripping out all the innumerable buckles, snaps, and pads for some reason we couldn’t fathom — before we realized we were converting the fucking thing into a booster seat for a five year-old. Trying to backtrack through the instructions proved nearly impossible, and the helpful illustrations were so unhelpful that I wondered if the writers had played a practical joke on us.
Foiled, we called it a night. Deena went to bed, and I blew off steam by killing things on the Xbox. This morning, I called the local fire department and ascertained that they’ll install the seat for us whenever we want. I think that’s what we’ll do. The car seat will probably never ever come back out of the car once it’s installed and sound-equalized and pH-balanced and whatever the hell else needs to be done, but that’ll be just fine. That’s one thing, at least, that we will gladly plan on.