Most of you probably know that the Normal Mormon Wife and I are excitedly expecting our third child at the end of May. LDS fathers tend to be on the supportive, involved, helpful side of the parenting continuum (guys, raise your hand if you read What to Expect When You're Expecting along with your wife during your first pregnancy), which provides us with some unique experiences as we assist our wives through the belly-swelling ordeal. One of the ways in which we show our support is by accompanying our wives to the regularly-scheduled prenatal checkup visits at the OBGYN, which I'm pretty sure is an acronym for the hospital's policy of "Over Billing Girls Yearning for Nurses". This is especially true when you enter the tail end of the pregnancy. I would not be surprised during the last two weeks of the pregnancy to have an appointment end at 10:00 a.m. and hear the nurse then say, "Okay, we'll see you at your next visit, which is today at 2:30."
I had the privilege last week of going to an OBGYN visit with the NMW and I such a surreal experience that it deserved a running diary:
8:30 a.m. - Enter the lobby and quickly realize that I am the only male in the room. Between the office staff and mothers in the lobby, I am outnumbered 16 to 1. So this is what it feels like to be a female going to BYU Idaho. Creepy.
(On a side note: I felt like all of the women were judging me as to why I was with my wife at the appointment. It seemed as though they were mentally placing me into one of the following categories:
-Loving husband showing support for his wife.
-Slacker husband who is only at the appointment to get out of work for an hour.
-Fearful husband who was told the day the test came back positive, "You did this to me and I will hurt you if you don't pull your weight until this baby comes."
-Trapped husband who is married to a high-maintenance wife who would think he doesn't love her if he did not show up for every single appointment.
-Disoriented male who took a wrong turn in the office complex and instead of finding the vending machine, he found 16 judgmental pregnant women and their support staff.
Just for fun - take the poll on the right hand side as to why you (guys) or your husband (ladies) goes on the OBGYN visits. I think I'm a cross between "loving husband" and "slacker husband" because I secretly enjoy escaping the office for these visits.)
8:32 a.m. - I can literally smell estrogen in the air right now. If you have never experienced the aroma, it is a blend of the following fragrances - Bath & Body Works, Tide, oregano, velum, maternal instinct, and a large Arby's melt.
8:34 a.m. - A television is playing and a very happy-looking young woman on an infomercial tells me that by taking the Seasonique pill, "You can only have four periods a year!" Feeling. Really. Out. Of. Place. Right. Now.
8:35 a.m. - Since the television has betrayed me, I begin rifling through the magazines. Lets see. Cookie? Nope. Pregnancy & Newborn? Pass. Conceive Magazine? Ewww! Country Home? Bohhh-riiing. Golf Magazine? Sweet!
8:36 a.m. - Rats! It's Golf Magazine for Women. The nurse just called our name, preventing me from reading enthralling articles about how to control your 90-yard drive and how to talk loudly with your girlfriends while the foursome ahead of you is trying to putt.
8:42 a.m. - We have a really friendly, funny ultrasound tech named Tammy. She and Andrea have been chatting non-stop for the last five minutes as if they were best friends since high school. Neither of them has taken a breath since the conversation began. I am sitting on the stool in the corner smiling and politely nodding my head at the appropriate times, but am not contributing to the conversation at all. I sort of feel like Alan Colmes when Hannity gets rolling, although unlike Colmes, I am both sane and rational. After engaging in a forty-thousand word conversation with Andrea over the span of a few short minutes, Tammy, who is obviously very articulate, makes eye contact with me and says, "...close...that..." and motions toward the door. What just happened? Does Tammy so rarely interact with human males in this female sanctuary that she has forgotten how to speak with us, or do I just look like a dumb, ape-like organism? Obeying her request, I close the door and then proceed to drum on my chest and hoot like a silver back male gorilla.
8:46 a.m. - Tammy just squirted Andrea's belly with an ample amount of the goopy, clear gel needed for the ultrasound. The gel came out of a large squeeze bottle that closely resembles the mayonnaises bottle used by my local Subway sandwich artist. The NMW suddenly looks like a 5'9" Cold Cut Combo as she lays on the table. Mmmm...Wife-a-licious.
8:49 a.m. - Just caught a great glimpse of Caroline on the ultrasound monitor. I can't wait to meet this little girl!
9:02 a.m. - We have finished with the ultrasound and are now sitting in another waiting room for our time with the midwife. While waiting, Andrea tells me about the book club book she is reading called, Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, and the disturbing questions it has given her about organ donation. We are both organ donors. I am even willing to let somebody else implant the Unicorn Hair that grows out of the middle of my forehead. The NMW asks me, "So if I die, can they just carve me up and take all of my dermis? How could I have an open casket with no skin?" This is the first time in my life that I have had to reassure another person that their dermis will not be stolen from them when they die. A really odd moment.
9:09 a.m. - We are now sitting inside our consultation room and a nice nurse named Glenda enters the room. She immediately apologizes to us for not having her name tag and photo ID clipped to her scrubs because she left them at home this morning. Hey, wait a second! I just saw a Dateline segment with Stone Phillips about people who pose as nurses to snatch children from the hospital. With catlike reflexes, I grab Glenda, wrestle her to the floor, and deftly incapacitate her. I call Security to tell them I have heroically apprehended the perp who is responsible for all of the unsolved baby snatchings in Guilford County.
9:10 a.m. - Whoops. Security confirms for me that Glenda, did, in fact, leave her ID at home this morning. My bad.
9:17 a.m. - The midwife is reviewing the ultrasound results in more depth with us and assures us that, "Andrea's fluids are looking good." Whew! That's good news. I just had her fluids changed four months ago, so she should be set for at least another two months or two thousand miles.
9:28 a.m. - With the appointment complete, we head out through the same lobby where I began my journey 58 minutes ago surrounded by 16 women. There is another man in the lobby at this point. He has the "what have I gotten myself into" look on his face and I can detect a trace of panic in his eyes. I look at him and silently thump my heart with my fist and mouth the phrase, "Be strong, brotha", to him. As strangers in this strange female land, we need all of the support we can get.
I wonder if my next visit to the OBGYN will be as eventful. Fortunately, I won't have to wait long to find out. It's scheduled five hours from now.
***** MY COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS *****
(On occasion a comment gets posted that deserves to be highlighted or instigates a response from me. In order to help these side conversations not get buried in the usual comments section, I'm going to post about them here.)
-Bracken96 - You asked, "I wonder if your title is more correct for married men?" You have a very good point. The formula "1 Boy + 16 Girls x Estrogen = Awkward" only holds true for the following situations. 1) The "boy" is married. 2) He is single and pushing thirty while all of the ladies are single and in their early twenties, but they think he is "too old" to flirt with. 3) They are at a party, he is the only guy to show up, and the 16 girls talk about the Twilight books all night. I think a better formula for a single guy and 16 single young ladies his age would be, "1 Boy + 16 Girls x Estrogen = Duuuuuuuude!"
-Anonymous & Lindsey - You both raise a good point - sometimes the husband is the MVP of the OBGYN visit by staying home with the kids instead of actually accompanying his wife to the appointment. It sounds like a fair share of women may prefer to go alone to the non-milestone visits (heartbeat, 20-week, etc.) so that they can actually get some privacy and not worry about the kids for an hour. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense since most SAHM's have a hard time doing basic life necessities, like taking a shower or browsing Craig's List, without being constantly bombarded by the demands of little children.
-Mama Cow - Which Chilean mission did your brother serve in? I was in Antofagasta from 1994-1996. If your brother served in one of the three Santiago missions, I don't want to hear about it. You see, there were seven missions in Chile at the time and the three Santiago missions were each baptizing over 1,000 converts every month. Antofagasta? We were lucky to have 250 in a good month. If the Chilean missions were a family with seven children, six of them would have turned out to be highly successful professionals with picture-perfect families. We were the seventh child who is 26, still living in the basement, bouncing from dead-end job to dead-end job, dating shallow women, and rarely shaving. Your brother may be the reason I suffered from an inferiority complex for two years.
-Natalie - I'm so intrigued about your comments that you and David have very different opinions as to what should be done with your bodies when you pass away. You mentioned something about fertilizing a tree? Are you serious? What other free-spirited alternatives to a normal burial are you contemplating? I've never considered anything other than a traditional burial, so I'm curious to hear what you have thought about. Please elaborate.
-Mike H. - I clicked on your hyperlinked name, and you are an honest-to-goodness professional writer for the Albany Democrat-Herald. Given your background, I really appreciated your compliment. On occasion the gals from the Mormon Mommy Wars post comments on my blog, which is a huge deal to me since they are among the rock stars of the LDS blogosphere. Now all I need is a comment from Eric D. Snider, Brandon Mull (my mission buddy turned popular author), and Orson Scott Card (my favorite author and just happens to live in my Stake) and I can retire a happy blogger.
-Sandy - Just to clarify, I do not attend every single OBGYN appointment. My apologies if I left that impression. I normally go to the first couple to hear the heart beat and make sure everything is okay. The 20-week visit is a must, but after that visit I rarely attend. If there is something that worries us, like the baby measuring small or some other physical concern, then I definitely go.