Monday, October 26, 2009

Meaningless Fatherly Pride

A few days ago we went to see our midwife. I've dubbed her the Ben Stein of midwives because she is chronically underwhelmed. The first time we arrived at her office, I was elated, nervous, a little baffled, and I expected everyone I met to share at least one of those emotions. Not Mrs. Stein. "A baby? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?" Granted, she's been delivering babies for 25 years, and there were certainly times during my table waiting career when I thought, "If I have to serve one more rib-eye steak..." Nonetheless, when people ordered them, I smiled, said "Good choice," and went over the salad dressing options. Not once did I flatly respond, "Wow. A rib-eye? How unique that you'd have the same thing everyone on this planet is biologically capable of ordering."

I know this sounds like something I might have put on the "Things I Won't Miss About Pregnancy" list, but I have since grown to adore our midwife, grown to admire her unshakable calm. What I once thought was catatonia, I now regard as serenity - a stability I know I will appreciate when Carrie is squeezing a melon through a lemon. Same letters different size fruit - is there a word for that? When we arrived last Monday, we hadn't had an appointment in about a week and a half and it was time for a pelvic exam. Mrs. Stein slipped on her gloves, reached under the sheet, and made as surprised an expression as I think she is capable. "Wow!" she said, "She's really low."

Carrie sat up a little, clearly excited by the news, "Really? That's great."

While earning my Master's degree in counseling, I learned that mirroring people's emotions is a terrific stall tactic when you're trying to figure out what the hell they're talking about. I smiled at Carrie, nodded in agreement, maybe even whispered a "Terrific" or an "Awesome." Then our midwife said the thirteen words that every expectant father longs to hear: "Yeah, she's much lower than any of the other babies due right now." It was actually just the adverb "much" and the comparative form of the adjective "low" that filled my heart with joy. I still had no idea what she was talking about, but I knew my daughter was "much lower" than the other babies were, and I knew that this news made my wife and our emotionally vapid midwife very happy. No one has ever accused me of being non-competitive.

When I finally figured out that it meant our daughter was positioned correctly and was right on (if not slightly ahead of) schedule and other children, I started thinking things like, "That's my girl. She really knows how to navigate a cervix." I can only imagine what I'm going to be like when she actually does something that isn't biologically determined by Carrie's physiology.

Ah yes, the joys of bridging unconditional love with unrealistic expectations. Stay tuned for meaningful fatherly pride. I'm sure they'll be lots of it.


  1. I believe that visit included the third pregnancy-related high-five of our 9-month journey. It's hard not to feel successful. The last time I was so excited about bodily processes was when I learned to use the big-kid's potty, and all I got out of that was a turd. Hopefully, Amari will be a lot cuter. Of course I was crushed this week when I was told my cervix wasn't dilated at all. What can I say? I've got stubborn lady-parts. Amari's clearly ready to go, but the rest of me is still unconvinced. "You want us to do WHAT?" my bits are saying. Oh well. I trust our baby's getting really smart with all that blood rushing to her head all the time. I just hope her giant genius brain won't pose too much of a problem for me on the way out.......

  2. You've gotta love Carla. I wonder what makes her excited or what her face looks like!?
    Just wait until Amari is born and then the real competion begins. But just so you know, Reya was first...

  3. A melon out of a lemon.

    She really knows how to navigate a cervix.

    Very Funny!