Welcoming Bubba

Last spring, my brother let me borrow his cordless drill. There’s a saying about giving a child a hammer and the whole world becomes a nail. If you give a woman a cordless drill, the whole world becomes an interior decorating project. I was drunk on drilling. I put up shelves, fixed wobbly drawers, and made Christmas ornaments out of European coins. I drilled and drilled and drilled. My coup d’etat, right before I joined Drillers Anonymous, involved desecrating my Scrabble game. I fastened a game piece tile holder to the walls outside each of the bedrooms. Now I can spell out the name of each room’s occupant with Scrabble tiles. It’s the adult version of those magnetic letters that kids stick to the refrigerator. When my brother saw me frantically digging through the tiles for the ever elusive “J”, he confiscated the drill.

I was thrilled with my ingenuity but I knew I’d have few opportunities to play with my new art. The names on the doors weren’t likely to change. From the moment my dogs met her dog, my roommate Mel was a permanent fixture – even after she announced that she was pregnant with a boy.

I was almost as excited as she. I grilled her about baby names so I could change the Scrabble tiles. She systematically rejected every male and transgender name known to mankind. In desperation, I announced that I would call the child Bubba until she settled on a name. I hurried to change the tiles on her door to read “Mel & Bubba”. We were expecting a baby.

I had no idea how my life would change. My training in emergency childbirth – and as a woman – never prepared me for the impact of a pregnancy in my home. Now I understand the stories my male colleagues shared about their wives. Now I know what it’s like to live with a pregnant woman.

I’ve always subscribed to the sentiment that if I wanted to hear the pitter patter of little feet, I’d put shoes on my cat. Now I’m engrossed in daily viewings of “Baby Story” and “Maternity Ward” on television. I stumble over boxes of diminutive clothing that friends have donated to the cause. I wake up in the middle of the night seeing visions of nursery themes on the wall. I buy baby name books from China and Bolivia, and quiz total strangers about possible names. I’m on a never-ending hunt for the perfect maternity gift. I can’t pass a store without checking its freezer for Ben and Jerry’s “Dilbert” ice cream. I hide the eggs in the refrigerator and avoid words like “poached”, “scrambled” and “omelet”. I tiptoe around the mood swings that leave her sobbing hysterically about the suffering of children in World War II. I try to be empathic when she complains that she can’t see her feet. I laugh when she stubs her belly on the edge of the counter or leaves the house with an umbrella that doesn’t quite cover everything. I try to change the channel whenever the commercials start so she won’t be tempted to say, “I want McDonald’s”, “I want Oreos” or “I want Welsh’s grape jelly.” When she asks if an outfit makes her look fat, I’m careful to say that she looks pregnant, not fat. Sometimes when she’s grumpy, I add, “You know, from behind, you don’t even look pregnant!”

We act like a married couple. We sit and talk about Bubba’s future. We debate circumcision. We ponder the impact of allowing him to play with dolls. We deliberate when to introduce him to a second language, and then a third. We plan how she’ll raise a strong man who won’t run away from his responsibilities. We watch him imitate Jean Claude van Damme, punching and kicking everything in his little world. We attend baby classes at the hospital.

She experiences everything while I play the role of observer and supporter. I watch in awe as her body changes. I wonder at the way she subconsciously adopts those caressing gestures that accentuate her beautiful shape. I gave up my office so Bubba can have a nursery. I hope I have the appropriate letters to spell out his real name on the door.

And I can’t wait to see him smile.

Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at JKWragg@yahoo.com

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