“Babe? You awake?” Laura’s voice finished the job his alarm clock had started. John propped himself up on his elbow and looked at his wife standing in the bedroom doorway in her pajamas with her hands behind her back, “Yeah, I’m awake. But you can have the first shower.” She ignored his offer, “I have some news for you.” “Ok,” it was too early in the morning for him to even fake enthusiasm. “I think we need to call the clinic today.” “Ah, ok,” he said.
Calling the clinic meant Laura’s period had come. Again. Which meant another month of failure to conceive, 25 months consecutive to be precise. And which meant that they would bite the bullet and start the IVF process which promised to be expensive, difficult and painful. “You wanna call or should I?” John asked. Laura stepped closer to the bed, keeping her hands behind her back, “I can call them after my shower…and tell them we don’t need their stinking treatments. TWO BLUE LINES, BABY!” As she shouted this she brought her hands from behind her back to display a pregnancy test. John was taken aback, “What? Is that…what?” She jumped on the bed, sat on her knees next to him, and showed him the evidence, “Two blue lines, read ‘em and weep. I’m pregnant!” “Holy shit,” was all John could think to say. “You can say that again,” Laura beamed. He obliged, “holy shit.” “Once more, with feeling!” “HOLY SHIT!”
He grabbed her and pulled her into and awkward spooning position at the foot of their bed, “Wow, that is great. That is…unbelievable. Great.” Still clutching the pregnancy test in her left hand she reached back with her right hand to gently pat his crotch, “Well done, little fella. We shouldn’t have doubted you.” “Hey, there was never a problem with the little fella,” he reminded her. “Just a problem with the swimmers.” “Anyways, no problems now,” she responded. He squeezed her, “Apparently not. But we should probably still go to the clinic, you know, just to check and make sure.” He could hear her eyes rolling in her voice as she answered, “Maybe we could first be happy about the good news for 5 minutes before worrying again?” He nuzzled her neck and replied with muffled voice, “Sorry, I am happy.”
It turned out the next step was to wait, as patiently as possible, for the first ultrasound, due around week 5 of the pregnancy. That meant around two and half weeks after the blue bars of happiness has announced the pregnancy to them. Laura’s morning sickness came on gradually and fortunately wasn’t too overwhelming. John was ready to baby her whenever and however possible and tried to pick up the slack around the apartment. When she picked up the clothes to drop them in the washing machine he intercepted, took them from her and did the laundry. When she started to Swiffer the floor he appeared, wrested the Swiffer from her hands and finished the job. He brought her tea and did the dishes and whatever else he could.
Some compromise was necessary in the kitchen. Hearing Laura bang the pans John leaped from the sofa and half-sprinted into the kitchen, “You hungry? I’ll make dinner. Why don’t you relax on the couch?” Laura filled a pan with water, “That’s alright, I don’t feel too bad.” “Come on, you’re pregnant and I’m not, so let me do it.” She smiled at him, “I’m pregnant, not an invalid. You know I do go to work every day.” He edged closer to the stove, “All the more reason for you to take it easy when you’re home.” She subtly shifted to position herself more firmly between him and the stove, “I can’t sit on my butt all the time. Plus, you’re a horrible cook, I’m not.” He surrendered to the truth, “Ok, you win. But if there’s anything I can do to help…and leave the dishes in the sink, I’ll wash them after we eat.” He hung around and tried to assist, but beat a hasty retreat when it became clear his presence was more annoying than anything.
As they sat down to dinner he asked, “So, how was Eunice today?” Laura smiled, “First of all, you don’t know that it’s a girl, it might just as well be a boy. Second of all, there is no way we are calling her Eunice.” “Well, if you prefer a boy’s name I can go with Mordecai,” he offered helpfully. She pulled a face. “Any healthy baby will do, but I have to say I’m hoping for a girl. One that looks like you if possible.” “Oh, be careful what you wish for,” Laura rejoined. “I don’t know how many pictures of me as a kid you’ve seen, but I was not a cute child. Personally I wouldn’t mind a little John running around. And you were adorable as a child.” “Sure,” John countered, “but then he’d grow up to look like me, and nobody wants that.” “True, but I’m not worried about that. I figure once the kid hits college they’ll hate us and only ever call us for money, so I don’t care what they are like then. I just want a cute kid in the meantime.” John smiled, “Well, I’m sure that boy or girl it’ll be a little café au lait angel.” “For café au lait one of us would have to be white, but you’re more pink, so what do you call it when you mix black and pink?” Laura joked. “Strawberry chocolate?”
After dinner and dishes they relaxed on the couch with Laura seated between John’s legs, leaning against him. “So, how big is Eunice now?” John asked. “About this big,” Laura replied, holding her fingers up. “Unbelievable, isn’t it? I mean this tiny little group of cells growing in me that one day is going to be running around causing trouble…going to school…learning to drive…dating.” John gently rubbed her stomach, “Yeah, I don’t think Eunice is going to be dating. She’ll be perfectly happy locked in her room where we keep her. But I should probably buy a gun as well, just in case.” “You with a gun, now there’s a scary thought. But when you think about it, doesn’t it just boggle the mind?” “Yeah, no, it’s a trip. It’s kind of just starting to sink in that we’re going to be parents. We had that goal for so long, and now it’s kind of a reality. I guess I was not at all ready for you to be pregnant.” Laura laughed, “What did you think would happen after two years of trying? Did you not know how babies were made?” “No, I knew. I mean, they showed us a video of childbirth in 5th grade, which scared the crap out of me while informing me. By the way, you’ve got some work ahead of you, in case you’ve never seen the video.” She gently punched his leg, “Hey, Eunice just got in there, let’s not start thinking about the exit yet. And, might I add, we’ve got work ahead of us. Which reminds me we should sit down this weekend and make up a budget.” “Hey, I thought my work was over at conception. That was my big moment, I spent almost 20 years in training for that you know.” She punched his leg again.
A moment passed in silence. Laura shifted and rolled to face John. She kissed him, first lips brushing his, then pressing, then parting. He smiled at her, “That’s nice, hello to you too.” She smiled back, “You know, speaking of…Eunice’s conception, how about a little historical reenactment?” He hesitated, “Ah, are you sure that’s a good idea? I mean, with the pregnancy and all…” “Oh, come on,” Laura scoffed, “are you serious? I’m sure there is absolutely no danger to little Eunice. And I’m not feeling nauseas, so now is your window of opportunity it. I suggest you climb through it and ravage me.” “Yeah…I don’t know,” he dithered. “I mean, why not wait a bit, you know, until the pregnancy is, you know, stable. I’m more than ok to…uh, take care of myself as needed for the time being. And you should avoid any shocks to the system.” “Honey,” she mocked, “you’re not bad, but I’m not sure we need to worry about earthshattering shocks to the system.” He kissed her forehead, “Fair enough, but I’m serious, let’s take a couple of weeks off. Let’s be on the safe side.” “Alright,” she gave in with a small sigh, “we’ll do it your way. But don’t dream you’re gonna leave me nookie-less for 9 months. Start preparing yourself now for getting down with a chick with a big belly.” He kissed her again, “Roger that, I’m not worried as you will be the most beautiful blimp around.” Another punch to the leg and he protested, “Hey, I said beautiful.”
Laura cleared her throat, “On a very unrelated note, how long do you think we should keep this to ourselves?” “Um, good question. Are you thinking parents or friends, or both?” “Both,” she replied, “but parents first I suppose. You know how my parents are about grandkids, so once we tell them they’ll be crazy excited and we can forget about talking about anything else with them for the foreseeable future. So I guess no rush to tell them, anyways they already have grandchildren, so they can wait. I guess it would be different with your parents.” He shrugged, “Yeah, but I mean no rush to tell them either. Anyways I think the first trimester can be our own personal secret. I don’t mind, I kind of like it.”
The next day made one week exactly until the first ultrasound. Laura was having a rough day and so caught some down time on the bed right after work. After putting around a bit John joined her and they spooned quietly for a few minutes. John broke the silence, “So, I was thinking, we should probably teach Eunice another language, you know, one of those foreign ones.” Laura, “Ok, that’s a good idea but we don’t speak any foreign languages.” “Well, they have schools for kids, and she should start as early as possible. I vote French, something with a bit of style.” Laura patted his hand, “We’ll have time to fight this out later, but I’m pretty sure Chinese would be more useful. Anyways, I’ll show you the budget I drafted, and I made an allocation for various classes. How do you feel about sports?” John thought a moment, “Ballet. Is that a sport? Anyways, she could study ballet.” “She could, if she wanted to, but I was thinking more like a team sport, for social skills and so on. Maybe basketball, you played basketball, didn’t you?” “I was on a team,” he corrected her, “I don’t think that what I did technically qualified as playing basketball.”
A moment passed in silence, disturbed only by the sound of John rubbing her feet with his. “Would you like a massage?” he asked. She shook her head, “Maybe later. Are you worried?” “About what?” he queried. “About parenthood,” she rolled just enough to make eye contact with one eye, “about doing a good job raising our girl or boy?” “Of course, how could I not be? I mean, kids nowadays…well, there seem to be a lot of problems that I didn’t have growing up. And still it was no picnic for me either. Plus it seems easier to screw up a child than…do a good job.” She nodded, “Yep, you said it. And how do you balance the freedom and discipline?” There was another brief pause before John rejoined, “But I’m not overly worried, because I know Eunice’ll have a fantastic mother. And if she takes after her mother than I’m sure she’ll be great…head hard as a brick wall and at times a real pain in the backside, but great.” She patted his leg, “Well, I guess that shoe fits. Let’s hope she has a healthy dose of you to make her more mellow and malleable. And whatever our shortcomings might be, I’m sure neglect won’t be one of them, so there’s that.” John gently rubbed her stomach, “Yes, there’s that.”