It’s been a helluva month in Ravens Park, my neighborhood in the 51st ward of Chicago. If there’s one quote, that I’m best known for originating it’s “Times, they are a’changin’”. And it’s truer now than it’s ever been. Just a few weeks ago I got home from work, walked up the three flights of stairs to my little apartment that I share with my beautiful wife of ten years, Kim, and our two cats, our furkids we call them, and I sat and we talked for an hour or so like any other day while petting our cats which I refer to as “rubbing our pussies together.” My wife doesn’t like that joke either.
Then I got up to get a beer and asked if she wanted one. She paused. Huh. It’s not like her to hesitate before accepting a tasty beverage. Anyway, I got both of us a drink and before sitting back down, I visited the restroom as I do occasionally and on the back of the toilet was two positive pregnancy tests anchoring a note that said, “You’re going to be a daddy…of a human child.”
Yeah…You figured it out a lot faster than I did. It took me eight minutes to figure out what that meant, four times longer than it took the stick she peed on. I understood for the first time the meaning of the word “Dumbfounded”. I was drooling, I didn’t know my name, staring back and forth from the pregnancy tests to the note, and rereading the test instructions I’d fished out of the trash to make sure that two lines meant positive and positive meant pregnant, because after a few high fives over negative results early in our relationship I wondered if I was confused about the nomenclature.
Meanwhile, she was waiting outside the door being totally freaked out by the long silence. I opened the door and she said, “Is that OK?” and the two of us hugged and kissed and cried together like I can’t remember when. It was very, very OK, my friends.
We’ve been married for ten years. We’ve always known we wanted to have a child but were never ready either because we didn’t have the money or we were too selfish or too scared. Of course, all of those things are still true, but here comes baby. Ready or not. Because for the first time I’m sure I’ve got enough love in my heart for one more person and for me that trumps the rest of it.
The thing that happens here is that I find out, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been about anything and you can’t tell people for 12 weeks. It’s torture. Especially during the holidays, since we were invited to about 5 booze soaked gatherings, culminating with New Year’s Eve. How to turn down alcohol on New Years I ask you?
Kim thought about telling everyone she was on Antibiotics, but then people either suspect that’s a lie or their imaginations run wild trying to guess what disgusting, dripping infection you’re fighting. “Is it vagina based?”, they’d think. Well, maybe that’s just me that thinks that way. I wanted her to tell people, she’s “been pooping weird lately.” But she wasn’t in for that for some reason.
We decided to go with her pretending to drink. We figured that we’d have to spend the next 18 years pretending to not do things for the kid’s sake so we should go ahead and start living a lie now.
So, she’d pick a dark bottle of beer and then surreptitiously, pour it out and fill it up with water. The first gathering doing this she was a nervous wreck, all fumbly and speaking too loudly. “I LIKE BEER!” But by New Year’s she was like a fake drinking ninja. She was cool, she was commenting on the hoppiness of the brew, “Mmmm, Daisy Cutter. I get hints of fresh cut grass”, I heard her say once.
She was enjoying the deception until late in the evening when I was standing watch while she poured a Revolution porter down the kitchen sink. I was drunk since I was matching her beer for waterbeer. Built in designated driver. Score. No rock, paper, scissors necessary. Then one of our friends started down the hall and I turned to my wife and taking my job of look-out way too seriously I yelled, “Abort! Abort!”
You figured it out a lot faster than I did. That is apparently not the right thing to scream at your newly pregnant wife. She immediately started violently sobbing. I know she knew that I wasn’t, like trying to make it happen, like scaring the hiccups out of someone, “Abort!” She knew that wasn’t the case but still, sloppy tears. She ran past a couple of people in the hall to the restroom. Slams the door with me right behind her. I sheepishly looked at my friends and whispered, “She’s been pooping weird lately…” They nodded, empathizing. They’d been there.
So, we’ve already begun sacrificing for the little life in there. She’s sacrificing 9 months of buzzes and carrying what I understand to be the brunt of the physical burden, meanwhile I’ve sacrificed being able to predict her emotional swings. There’s that. And I know our worries will multiply exponentially for the rest of our lives…
But that’s OK. I already know it’s worth it. There is no doubt in my mind. And not just for all the “My boys can swim!” jokes when we can finally tell people. Cuz you know, they can…swim. Phil.
It’s funny, the life I remember living before falling in love with my wife seems now like it was someone else’s life entirely. I feel another shift coming. Like we’re on a beach, we like where we are but the waves have receded in front of us and we know a tsunami is coming. But we just kind of widen our stance and brace to try and catch it…and eventually diaper it.
And that’s the story here in Ravens Park where we may just have third floor rental, but somehow, I know, we’ll manage to make it a home.