I want to sleep, but I’m waiting for my wife to finish her sixth trip to the bathroom. She’s literally peed six times in the last 45 minutes, and while I’ve been the picture of patience for the last 38 weeks, I’m a touch irritated tonight. I’m tired and I’m fully aware that I’m going to be tired for the next 20 years. No, scratch that. This is our kid I’m talking about. I’m going to be tired for the next 40 to 67 years, at least.
From the start, people have been shelling out advice. Did I ask for this advice? Not once. Looking back, I’m shocked no one was whispering these helpful tidbits in my ear at the moment of conception — I’ve heard spanking isn’t really effective. Sleep while you can. Kids are expensive. I’ve had friends, family, co-workers, the guy who took my order at Taco Bell, and the officer who handed me a speeding ticket last week give me the following dominant piece of advice: You guys need to sign up for some classes.
It’s always vague like this, too. Some classes. What kind of class are you referring to? Pie-making? Underwater basket-weaving? Sky-diving (I hear that’s great for the baby!)? No one outright says, “Go to a class for expectant parents. Check out Lamaze. The hospital has a course on preparing for a newborn.” Nope — just, you guys need some classes. That’s not fair. One guy did dish out some specifics. He was a helpful engineering major at my university, and he told me that an expectant fathers group meets each Wednesday night.
Which would be super, duper helpful, if we weren’t lesbians.
Not that it matters at this stage in the game, but we did try to find some classes. The problem is, my wife has been waddling — I know you think that’s a cliché I’m lazily throwing in here, but I’m telling you, she actually waddles — around her store for the last 38 weeks, six days a week. You know how many days she gets off a week? One. I bet you already figured that out, though, you mathematical genius you.
And contrary to the apparent rumor flying around, I don’t have an unlimited number of hours to take these vaguely alluded-to classes, as I’m taking some classes of my own. Try six of ‘em—the university maximum. I’m trying to get my degree finished before the bundle of joy (that cliché intended) arrives. Popular opinion is that you’ve got to feed, clothe, and nurture newborn children. I didn’t go to some classes to find that out, either. I straight-up Googled that particular nugget of knowledge.
Admittedly, there was some confusion at first, but I eventually found what I needed.
The sad truth of the matter is that we’re so busy responsibly prepping for having a kid that we haven’t had time to take the recommended classes. Our schedules clash. The one day I’m available my wife is not. Personally, I feel the need to confess one small truth, though: All of my uncommitted time is being used on frivolous tasks, such as figuring out how to get our daughter (Oops, *spoiler alert,* it’s a girl!) covered under our health insurance, putting the crib together, and attending appointments at the vagina doctor.
I guess I say all this to say that yes, I’m tired — I want to sleep and my wife is still urinating — but I’m also tired. Tired of the consistent interference from persons known and unknown to me, persons who are and (mostly) are not parents, persons who have little to no idea what our life is actually like. So after 38 weeks of patience, I’m a touch irritated tonight, and I just want my wife to waddle her baby-inflated self to bed.
Lucky for me, she’s finally here.
My knuckles whiten as I hold onto the edge of the bed. When she climbs in these days, it’s a bit like being in a bouncy house. The whole bed seems to make waves, and if I don’t hold on, I’m likely to be thrown overboard. She’s doing what is now a commonplace readjust, twisting and turning so much I’m feeling motion sick. “Good night, baby,” I whisper in her direction in the dark. In response:
Granted, this isn’t the response I’m expecting, but it doesn’t alarm me much. Before I can inquire as to why she’s suddenly become religious, she jumps out of the bed. Balancing on one elbow, I ask what the problem is, hoping silently that it’s only going to delay sleep another five minutes or so.
“I think my water just broke!”
“Because either my water just broke or I peed all over myself!” I consider mentioning that she probably did pee on herself. After all, she’s only gone six times in the last 45 minutes hour. Before I open my mouth, though, she flees back to the bathroom for what is now the seventh time. At this moment, it seems fitting to tell you that we’re both first-time parents. I haven’t so much as babysat a day in my life.
A mechanism inside my body clicks on, though. Gears grind smoothly into place, as if some unknown entity has been WD-40ing them for me as I slept these past 38 weeks. I jump up. Who needs some classes? I know exactly what to do! We need clothes, purses, (prayer?), the new car seat, (sleep? Five more minutes?)… the list continues to tick off instinctively, flashing through my head like exploding pop rocks. All the while, I’m making my way around the bed towards the bedroom door. I’m pretty worked up now—I’m about to be a mother. By the time I make it to my wife’s side of the bed, I’m running at a full sprint. I’ve totally got this.
Except, my foot makes contact with something slick.
With what I imagine is a fantastic swoop—something straight out of a bad comic, something banana-peel-esque—my foot flies out from under me. My body follows in quick succession, having never been posed the motherly question, If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you? With a sharp crack and a suspension of the air in my lungs, I land backside down on the floor. And yes, you already guessed it—I’m lying in my wife’s amniotic fluid.
This very moment is one reason I cannot kill myself.
I expect that every lesbian couple who has gone through all the trouble of uterus-poking, sperm ordering, and artificial insemination has ended up in this exact situation. Lots of lesbians have babies. I’m no different than any other lesbian in the world right now. In fact, there is probably another lesbian somewhere, right now—a lesbian who hasn’t made it to some classes—lying in her wife’s amniotic fluid while said wife shouts from the bathroom, “I have to shower! I can’t possibly deliver our child this dirty!”
It is because I don’t believe this that I will live another day. If I kill myself, what janitor of life will come mop up this amniotic fluid off our hardwood? What bizarre, mildly humorous, and incredibly unhygienic adventure will I rob myself of in the coming days or years? Forget the baby we’re about to have. I’ve got amniotic fluid to clean up … with my back.
Nikcole Wiles is a graduate student at the University of North Florida. When she’s not writing emotionally distant humor pieces or crafting her latest short story, she’s a) drowning in academia b) cooking her wife a gourmet meal (usually Ramen), or c) being vomited on by her daughter. All of her fiction and poetry is revised with the assistance of her wife and four cats.