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Servatius Junior 

She's on her way

So I'm having a baby.

In about three months, they tell me. I can't look down anymore without being reminded of this fact because I have to look around a bump to see my feet. Already she's changing my life.

For starters, she wasn't supposed to be a she. There are boys as far as the eye can see in my husband's family, so the possibility of a girl never dawned on me. I'd wanted a girl in the beginning, but in life it seems I never get exactly what I want, so I assumed "she" had to be a "he." I was so convinced that for four months I referred to her as "him."

My theory before I got pregnant was that having a girl someday would be cool because we could do the stuff together that women do. But over the months, as a bump appeared, I started to hear the TV news the way a parent does, not the way a reporter does. How could I ever let a girl go out the door only to victimized by a fruit-and-nut cornucopia of maniacs? At least a boy could fight back. I was grateful I was having a boy.

Women are supposed to be the perceptive ones about this stuff, but it was my husband who came home from work one day out of the blue and told me "she" was a "she." He'd been sitting there in his office and a powerful certainty that the baby was a girl just struck him out of nowhere. He stopped calling her "he" after that, and treated the ultrasound that later confirmed her sex as old news.

My husband has been ready for this baby thing for a long time. Like, for as long as I've known him. He's been staring gooey-eyed at random pregnant women for years and insisting they are beautiful. Even the really big ones. He started bugging me even before the wedding about when we'd be getting pregnant. The day after would have been fine with him. I thought somewhere in the far, far future would be great. In the end, things worked out his way ... the bastard.

My fear has long been that I would lose my edge the way so many women do after childbirth; that my priorities would be rearranged for me by a baby-induced hormonal haze of unconditional love or something. I'd lose track of what was once important to me. I feared that I'd fade into the obscurity of childrearing the way so many great women I've admired have. This, I'm convinced, is the real reason why there are so few women in positions of power and influence in this country. It's the haze. Somewhere between diaper-changing and soccer practice they go soft and fade into a shadow of what they once were. I don't want to wake up 18 years later to find the haze has lifted and that I left the best of me somewhere far behind, the long-forgotten gifts I've been given left unused.

I still fear that. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't. My husband, I think, was more concerned that my maternal instinct wouldn't kick in. There we were sitting at the first ultrasound, watching our space alien blob baby bounce across the screen. I'd looked at embryo pictures online, so it didn't much faze me until the nurse turned up the sound on the heart monitor and I heard the beating. For reasons I still don't understand, my child's heartbeat shook me to the core, and out of nowhere I burst out crying. It took me several minutes to pull myself together enough to walk through the lobby to the car, and I fought tears all the way home.

"I don't know why I'm crying," I kept telling my husband on the drive home. "It's not like me."

I think he was relieved.

Though there have been several ultrasounds since, I still can't look at those first ultrasound pictures without getting weepy, which is how I know it is happening. The hormonal haze is setting in, and it is powerful stuff.

At the last ultrasound a few weeks ago, the doctor poked the baby just right and she turned, looked right at us and waved. I know that it was just a reflex movement of her hand that looked like waving, but it jolted me just the same.

Whatever adventures we will have together are still unwritten, as is the way she'll fit into my life. But for better or worse, she's on her way -- and so am I.

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