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Two nights ago, my wife told me to stop breathing. Don’t tell her this: I kept breathing.

Three nights earlier, she told me to sleep on the couch. Her reason: I was breathing.

Apparently, breathing annoys her. Since the pregnancy just about everything annoys her, but for sure, I thought, she wouldn’t touch my addiction to oxygen. Breathing has been in my family for generations. Ever since my great grandfather braved battlefields during World War I to deliver oxygen tanks to field hospitals, we’ve dedicated every Thanksgiving and Christmas to air. (Side note: in a hilarious moment of irony, one of my great grandfather’s oxygen tanks exploded, sending shrapnel through his lungs, killing him by suffocation)

I approached her days later, cautiously, about these requests. To which she responded: “I have no recollection of that.” She was asleep; I’ll grant her that. But unconscious or not, I don’t believe wives should passively murder husbands. I’m a romantic like that.

I’ve been warned of many things in regards to housing a wild pregnant woman—the smell and the extreme unresponsiveness to house training being two of the more concerning items—but never once was I informed that my wife would one day encourage my own suicide. I’m honorable when I screw up, but breathing isn’t seppuku worthy.

There was one time, during a spontaneous moment of compassion, when she told me that in lieu of holding my breath I could simply turn my face away from her. I was both already facing away from her and greatly confused. I tried reading between the lines for an alternate version of “away” but came away empty. I’ve been empty ever since.

I haven’t lost her completely to the uneven battle between hormones and logic. Once while asleep she farted, and followed the act immediately with a quick, unconscious chuckle. Moments those make her suicide demands bearable.

The Hormolial Pregnaramous are a sneaky beast, I’m learning. What started early on as passable requests for simple things—back massages, foot rubs, foot rubs, human flesh, foot rubs—swelled almost imperceptibly into something slightly more disconcerting, and I’m pretty sure, illegal. Didn’t Jim Jones get in trouble for something involving suicide back in 1978? He should have used the now obvious “I have no recollection of that” excuse to escape persecution. “Nine hundred people you say…I don’t know. I was pretty hammered.” Or he could have just gotten knocked up, I guess.

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I’ve accomplished many things in my life by moving little more than a finger. I’ve pointed at things; I’ve held onto plastic bags; I once fell asleep in an empty parking lot full of concrete and bricks, and I woke up inside a 42 story apartment complex with barely more than broken sweat and a strained flexor tendon. The biggest minimal-movement accomplishment: becoming the World’s Greatest Dad. Earlier this week my wife and I attended the first physical exam, and I did nothing more than follow my wife into a testosterone-deprived women’s clinic waiting room and sit. I was the only male in this room. Later, because of this, I’m told how great I am.

The father’s role so far seems to be just a glorified version of the schoolyard favorite, Follow the Leader*, which, contrary to the patriarchal stereotype, I embrace. This is something simple, something I can do. I once followed Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping through a cornfield for six hours. Why? Because it was simple, and I could do it.

While, the domestic version of Follow the Leader may involve fewer world leaders, the measure of success is surprisingly similar between the two forms. Victory is determined simply by the amount of following a single player will endure. And when that number of players drops to one (or starts at one, as in my case), the remaining participant is declared “Father of the Day.” If playing with political world leaders, the remaining participant is more appropriately declared “Martyr of the Day.”

Many of the preggies were far enough along to perhaps justify an absent companion. After enough of these checkups I can imagine becoming numbed by routine, and where there is routine there is a perceived unimportance. I’m sure the husbands had reasons for missing the appointments: work, kid hating, or maybe forced overtime at the kid hating factory. Despite the reasons, though, one fact remains clear: I am the greatest father in the world.

EDIT: Remained. Was.

Like too many great men of our time, when presented with a choice between maintaining the status I had so lazily acquired, and risking it all for potential gains otherwise, I chose the funnier option. After the examination, my wife stepped from the room, proudly walked back through the waiting area, and entered a separate laboratory office. She completed this entire journey with her pants left unzipped**, in what I contend was an animalistic approach at boasting that she is “with child.” Female Huntsman spiders accomplish this by filling their jaws with egg sacks. She insists otherwise; that it was a way of boasting that she is “with a jerk.” I’m not sure what that means.

This is sure to remain a constant battle in both this blog and in family life: play to the audience vs. play to the inherently funny.

*My history of competitive playground games doesn’t stop there. I once battled Joseph Stalin in a marathon game of four-square, which elevated quickly…too quickly, some journalists say. The resulting blood stains are how the city of Red Square got its name. True story.
**My wife is really embarrassed by this part. I am a jackass.

About this site:

These are the words of a man learning to be a father with nothing to guide him but the wisdom of friends, his wife, his family, and some pretty good hunches…like, really good hunches, though.

Action Montage:

4 weeks

8 weeks

12 weeks

16 weeks

20 weeks

24 weeks

28 weeks

The Goal (replace dotted line with actual profile)

Read this…

"A Mean Utility" short story from Craig Davidson's collection, Rust and Bone.(This goes to an excerpt; the full story deals more with fatherhood, I promise)

Shit Yeah, Another Baby. by By Amber Richardson

Archives: A history of things I’ve likely already forgotten

RSS The Bewildered Housewife

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