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Diary of a Dad-to-Be

Friday, May 2

Tonight, as we sat through the opening credits of a bad movie, I scrutinized each name for suitability. The director of photography is named Rex. I turned to Liza: "Rex." She laughed. "No, really: Rex." Suddenly she wasn't laughing; she was warming to the idea. It's unusual, and it's an R name; perfect as a nickname for Robert, which was her father's name and is our first choice.

Sunday, May 11 Mother's Day. Liza says we're not allowed to celebrate it this year. Something about jinxes.

Monday, May 12 Tonight was our first Lamaze "childbirth preparation" class. We learned about the baby "dropping" into the "pelvic station," about the three signs of labor, among them, the dislodging from the cervix of a "mucus plug."

Sunday, May 18 Liza had a baby shower at her mother's, complete with hor d'oeuvres and champagne. I didn't stay, of course; didn't want to invade the den of estrogen. My favorite of the new acquisitions are the little baby skull caps. The first one I laid eyes on was so tiny I had to fight back tears.

Thursday, May 22 Today, almost six weeks ahead of schedule, we thought we were about to have the baby. I met Liza at Dr. C.'s for a regular checkup. As we were setting up the next appointment, Liza began to feel some booming contractions. We were sent to the hospital, where they ran tests, prescribed some drugs to stave off labor, and sent Liza home for two weeks of strict bedrest. She's 34 weeks into the pregnancy. At 36 weeks, our doctors estimate the chances that the baby's lungs will be fully developed and that he'll be able to survive without mechanical help outside the womb are 95 percent. So it's pretty crucial to buy Rex those two weeks.

I'm not worried, exactly. But I feel like our storybook pregnancy has hit a serious glitch.

We were also told we can't have intercourse for two weeks. Given our frequent bouts of exhaustion, the logistics of coping with Liza's expanding girth, and our general lack of libido, we haven't been having much anyway. But now that we're told that we can't have sex, I'm dying for it.

Sunday, June 8 My birthday. But, more auspiciously, the day that Liza comes off bedrest. It's 11 PM, our mini-party for me has ended, our few guests have graciously gone home, the Bulls have lost game four of the finals, and it's been a solid nine hours since Liza took her last anti-contraction pill. We're both sort of stunned that Rex hasn't made a move.

Monday, June 9 Last week Dr. C. told us to hold off on vigorous sex until Sunday night. Well, last night was Sunday night. I cannot better remember such a moment of pure, distilled bliss.

Tuesday, June 10 The big delivery came today: changing table, car seat/carrier, crib mattress. We pulled out the car seat, which has a rounded bottom so that it can rock when being used as a carrier, and I rocked it gently, with a light push of my hand. My heart clutched.

Friday, June 13 Last night, Liza delivered what we think might have been the mucus plug (or "bloody show," as they call it in the baby biz). She's begun to feel contractions...not to mention gastrointestinal distress, queasiness, and general discomfort. Liza now thinks the delivery will be Sunday, Father's Day, which she feels would be a tribute to her father, the baby's namesake.

Monday, June 16 It wasn't Father's Day.

Friday, June 20 I've decided that, for all Liza is going through and (more to the point) is about to go through, I need to get her a gift, a token of my love and gratitude, to be presented in the recovery room as we sip champagne postbirth. So I cajoled my friend Valerie to accompany me to a jewelry store, where we were drawn to a bracelet that featured five miniature beans. "Ah, the seeds of life," the salesman said. Valerie and I gaped at each other, astounded. I reached for my wallet.

Sunday, June 22 No baby yet. I can't say the same for Chris and Michelle. Last night we returned home to a message from Chris: "Unless you're at the hospital right now, you're out five dollars."

Thursday, June 26 As we were getting ready for bed, Liza turned to me and said, "I'm not really pregnant. I just got really, really fat."

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