Monday, February 13, 2012

My great-niece/greatniece/great niece is coming

Suddenly everybody I know is having a baby.

(NOTE: That is clearly not true, but isn't it funny how we do that? If we see three people with the same t-shirt in the same day, we'll say, "I see those shirts EVERYWHERE! Seriously, I think I've seen 17 different people wearing them.")

But really, lots of babies among my family and friends. And the most significant of those is my soon-to-arrive great-niece, Payton.

Payton, due next month, is the daughter of my niece Jessica. I actually had to ask several different people whether Payton would be my "great-niece" or my "grandniece." According to some sources, the two words mean the same thing, but I'm sticking with "great-niece." "Grandniece" is too close to "granddaughter," and that's a word I don't want anything to do with just yet.

(ANOTHER NOTE: Interestingly, "great-niece" is hyphenated but "grandniece" is not. I wasn't sure how to handle that at first. "Greatniece" definitely doesn't look right, and "great niece" makes it sound like I'm describing her as "great." I'm sure she'll be great, but that's not the point I'm trying to get across. Actually, if you've been reading this blog for the last two months, you know I'm never quite sure of the point I'm trying to get across.)

Anyway, I'm excited for Payton to come. It has been a little more than six years since Jack was born, and I miss having a baby around. There's always so much anticipation and excitement around the birth, bringing them home, getting the nursery ready, etc.

Of course, I personally never had to go through the whole pregnancy and birth thing. I was only involved in the very earliest biological stages of the process, after which my job was limited to picking things up off the floor as my wife's belly grew and walking very close to her whenever we went somewhere, as if I was a guard dog and someone was going to leap out of the bushes at any instant and attack my wife and impending offspring.

It was at the end of Terry's first pregnancy when I came to realize that giving birth must be a wee bit uncomfortable. In fact, I still maintain it's physically impossible. I know billions of human beings have entered the world through the perfectly natural process of childbirth, but I choose to believe there's just no way it could ever work. Seriously, compare your average-sized baby with the opening through which it's supposed to pass and you'll see what I'm talking about.

I obsessed over this throughout Terry's 16-hour labor with Elissa.

"So, doc, we're still going with the standard birthing procedure here? I mean, that's what you've opted for? Having the baby come through the, uh, birth canal, as it were? It is? OK, so then I guess I have to ask -- and I realize you're a licensed, board-certified physician and all -- but really, have you taken a look in that area? You have? Uh huh, OK. And it's your opinion that the baby (whom you have judged to be somewhere far north of 8 pounds) will, in fact, just slide right out of there? No problems or anything? Right, right, OK. And will the baby somehow significantly shrink before this happens? No? Well, will the, uh, whatchamacallit get any bigger, then? It won't? Ah ha, I see. OK, um, can we get another doctor in here? One with a grasp of physics?"

And yet somehow Terry managed to have five of those little buggers, four of whom came through the whatchamacallit.

Amazingly, she did it almost without making a sound. A few grunts, sure, but she always made it seem effortless.

Women like to say that men could never have babies. I disagree. I could DO it, but there's no way I would do it as gracefully as my wife did. I'm telling you, she was good.

God gives women this incredible strength when they give birth. Guys, if you haven't experienced this firsthand, my advice to you when it happens is to hold her hand, give her ice chips if she asks, and pretty much just stay out of the way. You're dealing with forces you cannot possibly understand.

Plus, the actual mechanics of childbirth are, to put it delicately, messy. There's just a lot going on there, and it takes more than a few paper towels and a bottle of Pine-Sol to deal with it. I'm not especially squeamish, but trust me when I say that you're going to want to stay at the head of the bed in your support position, if at all possible.

But back to Payton, I'm pretty psyched about meeting her. For one thing, as a great-uncle, I get all of the benefits of a baby (i.e., holding them, listening to them make their little noises, changing them only when I actually want to, etc.) without all of the difficulties associated with your own kids (lack of sleep, lack of money, lack of clothes that don't have spit-up stains, etc.)

I don't know how I did with Jessica, but my goal with Payton is to be both her "great-uncle" and her "great uncle." And I promise here and now to change at least one poopy diaper every time I see her. You read it here first, Jess.

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