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We had a name but now it’s gone. We let it go. It could still come back, but I think we’re both over it and ready to test out something new. But we are having trouble finding a name that we both agree on.
It is a crazy decision. My name is so inherently my own that it is nearly impossible to image what I would be like if I had a different name. Which means that this decision will affect and create a fundamental aspect of my child.
Does the name make the individual? Or would any person be exactly the same with a completely different name? The latter I doubt. A name gives a shape and some coloring to the hidden soul. And I want our child to look outside the lines and to find colors never named before. I want the name to be interesting but comfortable.
I love words, and choosing this word to identify our offspring is one of the most unique and incredible experiences in my life. There is something so essentially human about this act, this naming. Our species loves to identify and understand everything we see, touch, taste, smell and hear. We do it instinctively, as a way to grasp the world around us and hold it in our minds. So much so that nearly everything out there is already named.
Yes, rare species are found in primeval forests and in the deepest ocean that are given new names now and then. Of course bands make up names for themselves, riffing on other bands or art they love. Paintings are brushed onto canvas and named. Books are given titles that they are called for all their printed lives. Kittens are born and we bestow them with a name we are forever nicking away at. All that is true.
But this creation, this new human, it is ours to name. It is our gift and our responsibility and it is another of those absolutely common things–that everyone has a name–which has suddenly become so deeply awesome.
It is obvious what is about to happen, but it is impossible to fully apprehend. The pictures of Lu’s progression leave no room for doubt. We are going to have a child. We are about to become parents. Right now, we’re not. Right now we are two people joined by love and promises of marriage and the shared responsibility for an impending baby.
Soon the joint responsibility for a new human will be ours. I’ve seen a lot of people do it and it looks like something I can handle but how it’s all gonna go down is impossible to know right now. And by “all” I’m talking the next forever of my life. Our lives.
I can see us three together, though. I can see the child in Lu’s arms, feel her passing him or her to me. I softly sniff the silken hair and I smell the scent of fresh baby. Our baby. But that baby is going to grow and as it grows this person will live a whole life all on their own, just like you and me. Our parents made us at the most fundamental level, and they guided us into understanding and morality and love. But in the end we each live every day completely in our own skin, even as that skin and our minds stretch to comprehend the endless complexity of the world.
We start as 46 tiny strands of chromosomes and we grow to the point where we can know that the Universe is bigger than our minds can know. Thirty-four years from now my son or daughter will know exactly what I’m talking about.
I feel like I’ve been riding in a train as Lu runs beside it. I’m watching her transformative journey of effort and action, of strength and exhaustion, of inexorable and extreme beauty. Pregnancy pushes female humans to the edge of their capabilities. It is incredible to watch.
Lu pregnant is a breathtaking example of the Universe at its most powerful. Like a star igniting in the vacuum of space, like atoms colliding into energy, so too is the union of cells that now kicks and swims in Lu’s womb, filled with the fire of our love.
Although we are still 11 weeks away from Delivery Day (at most), I am starting to feel like I must be ready at any moment. And right now, I’m not.
There is so much to prepare. And I’m not even talking about stuff like diapers or a bassinet or carseats or a pediatrician even though yes those are all definitely needed.
All I’m thinking about is the day itself. The actual objects that we’re going to need to succeed. Since we’ve chosen page number Crazy on this little Choose-Our-Own-Adventure, it means there is a ton of shit that we have to have ready when our child decides to join the rest of us.
Birthing tub. Drink-safe hose to transmit water to said tub. Towels. A headband for Lu. Other stuff. Lots of other stuff. Stuff I need to know about, acquire and be ready to use right now, that I simply do not have.
Our friends have a tub we are going to use. But that tub needs to start living in our house. The iPod mix for the Birthing Event must be created. The walls, they have to be padded for when the craziness ensuses so that no one hurts themselves bouncing off of them.
But no. No craziness. That I need to prepare to avoid and deflect at all costs. It is my job to dispel craziness throughout this entire experience. Except when the craziness is the child emerging before me and then there’s nothing I can do but step back and let Lu and the Universe do what it does.
Calmness. Focus. Confidence that her body is meant to do this and that she will excel at this task. Calm confidence will be our path to a beautiful birth. But to get there I have to be ready and there is still so much to do.
It is still rather amazing to me when I see Lu getting special treatment because of her condition. I’m not necessarily surprised by it anymore, but it is still a lot of fun to watch.
This past weekend we saw a moe. show at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. With my mom a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and Lu a die-hard Jovi-head this was a fun venue to check off the list. They had some trouble getting people in at will-call for some reason, but once inside the bartenders were fast and friendly, the stage out back elevated so that even Lu could see, and the music, fireworks and friends were all spectacular.
But what was really the most fun for me was the way the staff broke their own rules for my wife. Right off the bat she was flaunting policy by bringing in her own water bottle. They let her pass without question. Once inside I ordered a beer, and despite the many others waiting to be served, the gruff, efficient, 50 year old tattooed bartender turned sweet as pie when Lu asked him to fill up her 2 liter bottle. Finally, at setbreak Lu just wasn’t comfortable in what she was wearing, so despite the many posted “NO RE-ENTRY” signs the staff was totally cool with her slipping out to change and then coming right back in. What pregnant lady wants, pregnant lady gets.
Moe. was the baby’s second show. The first was Liz Phair and a few weeks from now we’re going to see Wilco and Ween and hopefully, somehow, Radiohead, too. That’s an nice spectrum of musical styles and it will be interesting to see what type of music the baby responds to the most. My nephew Oren lights up whenever he hears “Either Way” by Wilco, while on the other hand my friend’s son Cobe absolutely loves to shout and run and jump and scream to heavy-metal rock and roll. He’s three right now and I have no doubt someday he’ll take a mosh-pit by storm.
Lu is laid out on the bed with her feet propped up on a pillow, a magazine dropped haphazardly to her side as the pages softly flutter in the breeze of the fan pointed directly her way. Her mouth is slightly agape as she breathes slowly, sleeping. She is a vision of pregnancy that perfectly captures the beauty and exhaustion of this momentous, ongoing event. I wonder if the baby is sleeping, too.
Yoga pants and a tank top is her typical evening wear these days. But the best part is the tank top is always pulled up to reveal her ever-growing belly. The tattooed flower around her belly button is easily three times the size it was when this all started.
That rounded skin is soft but taut and the linea nigra is clearly visible. For some reason she hates it when I say that I can see it, but the facts are the facts. And another fact is that her belly button is going to pop. This also makes her crazy, hearing me say that, but it is clear that this is something that is definitely going to happen.
I do not understand why she doesn’t want either of these things to be true, and so far she has not even tried to explain it to me. She just insists that her button won’t pop, and shakes her head in defiance when I say that it really looks like it will. She also denies the existence of that faint, dark line. Did you know that no one really knows why the linea nigra appears? That seems like something people should know. But they don’t. If anyone has a theory I would love to hear it.
Woman have been giving birth for thousands of years, and still mysteries remain. Just like the mystery of why Lu refuses to accept the inevitable pop of her belly’s button.
She glows and grows, fast asleep on the bed. The baby swims and thumps within. And I stare at the faint dark line, the subtle stripe that marks her as special and precious, and I gaze deep at the tattooed flower that is blooming big with life behind it, and I wait for the moment when the innie goes outtie and I win the battle of the Belly Button War.