Ready to watch the World Series opener, I bop into the master bedroom and zero in on my remote when I see my wife sitting on the floor of our bathroom, shaking and looking scared, clutching what appears to be a Popsicle stick with two pink lines.
“Hey, where’d you find a Popsi-–”
“I think it’s positive.”
“Positive? The Popsicle? What do you-–” I register what she’s actually holding, and my inner guy starts singing like Elmer Fudd: Look what I’ve done; I’ve killed the wabbit!
I grin and exclaim, “That’s wonderful!” I move in to hug my newly pregnant wife, and she breaks into tears. This confuses me. It’s not good for me to become confused; I usually say stupid things. That trend continues tonight.
“What are we gonna do?” she gasps between sobs.
I shrug. “Umm, have a baby?”
“Well, there are doctors, and-–”
“NO! How are we gonna take care of a baby? We’re not ready!”
“Don’t worry; you have eight months to get ready!” As the sobbing volume increases, my inner umpire calls my first strike.
I don’t know why she’s upset, but that’s okay -– the more I say, the more reasons I give her.
“Will you confirm this for me?” She holds out the stick.
“Umm… you peed on that, didn’t you?”
“Just look at it! It might not be positive. The first line looks kinda faint – maybe it’s not a line, maybe it’s just a smudge.”
I peek while she holds it. “That’s the control line -– it’s permanent. See the really dark line next to it? The one there’s no mistaking? The one that couldn’t possibly be a smudge? The one that-–”
“Okay, I get it!” She flings the stick away. It arcs in slow motion and lands on the sink, millimeters from my toothbrush. I grimace. She sees me, misunderstands my face, and starts to cry even harder. “I knew it! You don’t want a baby! You hate me!”
“Wha -– no, that’s not it at all! I’m just worried about the pee!”
“What pee? I’m falling apart, and you’re thinking about pee?!”
“Here, why don’t you let me get you a washcloth for your hands?”
“Forget about the pee!”
I shrug and sidle closer to the sink under the guise of leaning against it in a sensitive listening pose. When I surreptitiously grab a couple of tissues and start moving in on the stick, she screams, “Don’t you dare clean up that pee! Are you even paying attention to me?”
“Sure I’m paying attention; how else would I have seen where the stick landed?” More sobs. “Sweetheart, what is it? Aren’t you happy?”
“Of course, but I’m scared, too! I just accepted a new job -– what will my boss say when I show up on the first day and tell her oh, by the way, in eight months, I’m taking maternity leave?”
“She’ll probably say, ‘Okay, let me get the paperwork started now.’ You know how long HR takes with these things.”
“She’s going to think I deliberately kept this from her during the interview!”
“Well, gee, if you already had an answer, why’d you ask me?” She stops crying long enough to glare at me.
“She’ll probably fire me!”
“She can’t –- that’s illegal.”
“Then she’ll probably just resent me!”
“Sweety, listen.” I sit down to hold her, the smartest thing I’ve done all night. “There’s nothing wrong with being pregnant at a new job. There’s nothing wrong with being pregnant, period. We don’t owe her an explanation, but if you want, I’ll tell her for you; I have a meeting with her tomorrow. Believe me, she won’t think poorly of you.”
The sobbing slows considerably as she looks up at me. “Really?”
“Really,” I reassure her. I’m doing well now. I should stop talking. I don’t. “What will make her think poorly of you is if you start blubbering like this on your first day of work.”
She stands, grabs some tissue, and walks out of the bathroom in cold silence. I congratulate myself for having helped her feel better -– she’s no longer scared or sad. Instead, she’s back to a state more familiar to her after eight years of marriage to me -– raging disgust.
Ready for the first pitch, I bop back into the bedroom, only to find something that at first glance resembles a Popsicle stick with two pink lines. And it’s… On. My. Remote.
Looks like tonight’s game has been called.