When I got to work on the day I found out Sarah was pregnant, I had to resist the urge to stand up at the editorial meeting and make an announcement. Instead, I went online and googled "pregnancy." I basically learned four things:
- Folic acid, which is found in vitamin B, is crucial for pregnant women because it prevents birth defects.
- My wife is about to get irritable, tired, and nauseous. The mood swings and food cravings/aversions that seemed so over-the-top on sitcoms are real.
- People are obsessed with comparing the growing fetus to vegetables. (e.g., "At 11 weeks, your fetus is roughly the size of a summer squash.")
- I am, biologically speaking, unnecessary from this point forward.
I was contemplating all this when the phone rang. It was Sarah.
"So," she said. "When should we start telling people?"
"Why? Did you tell someone already?"
"Of course not. You?"
I hunched over the telephone and lowered my voice. "The stuff online says we shouldn't say anything until three months."
"Three months? I can't wait that long!"
"A lot can happen in three months."
If you believe the Mayo Clinic (and I do), ten to 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and almost always before week 12. A lot more happen before the woman knows she's pregnant, usually because the embryo has chromosome abnormalities, or because the woman has an "incompetent cervix." (Couldn't they come up with a more insulting phrase, like bungling cervix, or worthless cervix? You can almost picture the rest of the reproductive organs surrounding the poor cervix, shoving it to the ground, and hollering, "You moron! You blew it again!")
Eventually, Sarah promised to try and keep the secret. "It's only seven more weeks," she said. "I can do anything for seven weeks." Seven weeks? I did a quick calculation. "How pregnant are you?"
Her pregnancy, she explained, actually began two weeks before my sperm came anywhere near her egg in that hotel room in Kansas. "It started on the first day of my last period, which was five weeks ago," she said. "Which means we're in week five now. The due date is 38 weeks after the date of conception, or you can add a week to the date I began my period then subtract three months."
No, I don't get it either.
Sarah said she'd write it all down. She also promised to keep the secret between us. When I hung up the phone, I shuddered. This pregnancy stuff had a Kilimanjaro-sized learning curve, but I was excited and nervous in a way that made my stomach hurt. And I was more in love with my wife than ever.
She lasted all of 12 hours, at which point she blabbed to her best friend, Tricia.