Awhile back, I wrote about how I'm going to be a dad. I've spent hours crafting stories about zombies, murder, and all kinds of other horrifying crap, and that still might be the most terrifying post I've ever written.
That's not to say I'm not excited about being a father--I am. It's just that it's pretty much the scariest thing to ever happen to me. Which is saying something, considering I have, on more than one occasion, had loaded firearms pointed at me.
But as scary as it is for me, I can't imagine what it's like for Natalie. She's dealing with impending motherhood well, especially when you think about how her entire body is going through changes generally reserved for the more disgusting parts of horror movies.
I've been reading books, man, and if you want some easy nightmare fodder, do some research about what happens to a woman's body when she's creating life. I'm not just talking about the swelling, the mood swings, or the unusual cravings, either (although, let's face it: if you didn't realize you were watching a flick about child birth, you'd totally think you were watching an alien movie, based on those symptoms).
I'm talking about things like how the baby starts mushing around on your guts, squishing your bladder; or like how ligaments that surround your uterus stretch and thicken, causing intense pain. Or a hormone called relaxin, which--although it sounds like it would be totally fun--causes your pelvic gear to go all screwy, and can cause "a clicking sound when you walk, and a feeling like your bones are grinding together."
These are all real things, and they are only a fraction of the bizarre horrors that go down when you're pregnant. And that's not including all the norms, like vomiting, dizziness, and loss of bladder control, which incorporate elements of a drunk college comedy into our previously mentioned horror movie.
Feel free to print this post out for your teenage children, by the way--I'll wait.
What I'm saying is, the pre-game to the miracle of life is a pretty horrendous thing, and one which I'd seriously consider passing on, if it was me who had to go through it.
Natalie's handling it like a champ, though, so I do my best to minimize the hassles of regular life--I figure if I can make her life a little easier while she's dealing with stuff like having a little human being rolling around on her bladder, I should probably do it.
A recent example was when we went out of town to get groceries and other supplies. I had offered to go on my own, but going out of town means eating at food places we don't generally get to frequent, and the lure was too much for her. She toughed out the trip, but after eating, she started feeling a little weird.
This is a fun new phase we've entered--basically, eating makes her sick. It doesn't happen all the time, but enough so that we've developed a strategy for when it happens: she sits down until she doesn't feel like throwing up, and I go somewhere else, just in case she has to throw up. So far, this plan has worked out pretty well--she has only thrown up a handful of times, and I was nowhere around when it happened, so it's like a win-win.
"You wait in the car, I'll go into the store," I told her.
"But I needed to get some things, too."
"I can get it," I told her, "Just tell me what you need." I was really hoping it wasn't something with a strange name--a sure indication that if I read the package, I'd end up fainting. Pregnant women need some really weird stuff, you guys. So far, we haven't had need for it, but like I said--I've been reading. I know about the stuff that's out there, and it's generally not to help with things like, "There are so many rainbows, and they're all so pretty, and they smell delightful." It's usually more of that horror movie stuff.
"Well, I really wanted some pie."
Pie. Good. Pie, I can do.
"I don't know what kind they have."
"Okay, I'll just let you know what kinds they have, and get it before I check out."
I went in, did my shopping, and then pulled to a halt in front of the freezer section. There was no way I was going to type each and every pie behind the frosty glass, so I took a picture and texted it to her.
Seconds later, I got a response:
"Oh, I meant the pies from the bakery section."
I thought as much, but since I had been passing the frozen goods, I figured I should let her know what was offered there. I texted back, informing her that I was making my way to the bakery--fresh produce was my last stop, and since it was right next to the baked goods section, I figured I could tell her about the pies, and then load up on fruits and vegetables while I waited for her to make a decision.
I snapped another picture--this time of the fresh-baked pies--and made my way over to the shelves of fresh berries.
I grabbed a couple boxes of blueberries and my phone sounded, indicating I had a message.
"I can't tell what kinds there are."
Rats--I was hoping the picture was going to be enough, but even zoomed in, it was difficult to tell what was what. My phone sounded again.
"Can you tell me what kind they have in cream, and what kind of fruit ones they have?"
I walked back to the baked goods and began inspecting the various pies, and typing them into my phone. I hit send, and made my way over to the vegetables. I loaded up on broccoli, kale, spinach--all the healthy crap I've started eating since I discovered I was going to need to stick around for another couple decades, or so.
My phone chimed again: "Which looks better...chocolate creme or peach? I'd want one of those."
I went back over and inspected the pie finalists. They both looked delicious, but I had no idea which one technically looked better. I placed them side by side and took another picture--hopefully a tight enough shot so she could see details and decide the final victor.
While I awaited the verdict, I continued to fill my cart: apples, bananas, carrots, cilantro, parsley, celery. Breakfast fruits, and stuff to make healthy soups for supper.
"Let's do chocolate," my next text message read.
I went back to the pies, grabbed the chocolate, and placed it into my cart. I took a couple steps when I realized something--as an adult, I can actually buy more than one pie at a time. And as a guy who has spent a little time with a pregnant chick, I have learned one thing: just because the chocolate pie sounded better in theory, it didn't mean that's the one she'd want when we got home. I doubled back and tossed the peach pie into the basket, as well.
And that's when I noticed her. I had seen the lady a couple times as I made my way up and down the aisles. She stood out because she was wearing a bright orange jacket. I hadn't paid much attention, but in my peripheral, I had seen her while I picked my produce. And as I put the second pie in my cart, I realized that she had been standing in the same spot ever since I had arrived to this part of the store.
I turned my head and fully focused on her. She was in the midst of shaking her head in disappointment, but as soon as she saw me see her, her eyes widened in low-level surprise, and she looked away.
It was at that moment that I realized what I must look like to a stranger. I'm a fat guy who rolls up to the bakery, looks over the pies, even takes a picture, and then walks away. Loads up on some fruits, but then goes back and looks at the pies, again. Forces himself to throw some veggies into his cart, but then it's right back to the pies, touching them, taking more pictures. Pulls himself away, only to be drawn back one final time...when he loses the battle and takes a pie.
And as if that wasn't bad enough, once he had lost, he reveled in his defeat by doubling back and getting a second pie.
The temptation to run over and explain my situation to her was strong, but I knew if I did, I'd just look like a crazy person. Plus, let's be real--she wouldn't have believed me for a second.
Instead, I just made my way to the check-out, and suppressed my bitterness as I watched the cashier scan the forbidden pies.