My wife Yahaira and I are having a baby. Well, the bun isn't in the oven, but
we are kneading the dough. Whenever we go shopping, Yahaira buys one of those
parenting books at the checkout stand. You'll find them under the heading, "Half
as Long, Twice as Much." She tries to read them in the car despite her urge
She was so cute that I came down with a case of sentimentalism and decided
to visit Barnes and Noble. I found the biggest, baddest, most unthinkably
thorough book in the building and, with the help of a forklift, carried it
to the cashier. The Baby Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Birthing
and That's Just the Prologue.
I had them gift-wrap the tome so that I could give it to Yahaira as a JB
present. JB presents are "just because" Yahaira hates to wake up
and have it not be her birthday. JB Days happen at random so that she can't
plan, and they always come with a note: "Just because I love you," "Just
because you've been working so hard," "Just because you keep telling
me how long it has been since the last JB Day."
Yahaira devoured the wrapping and made that squealing sound that I never
seem to achieve in bed. She loved the book so much that she began reading
it immediately. Out loud. I nuzzled into the moment, pleased to please her.
The next day she read to me while I showered and dressed and ate my Corn
Flakes, following me around like a missionary. She called from work so that
I could hear the end of Chapter One. Only 16,000 pages to go! I thought the
novelty would fade, but Yahaira kept reading. Some mistakes you just don't
During my sentence as a Designated Listener, I have learned a few things.
First, there are no limits to how anal-retentive a mother can be. The authors
of The Baby Bible were selected for their OCD, but who could have guessed
how far they'd take it. Among other things, I discovered that:
baby bottles should be 14.23" long, stored upside down and not -- I
repeat, NOT -- near a microwave.
a baby's temperature can actually be determined by the texture of its feces.
feeding your baby the wrong formula can turn him into a serial killer.
layette is a pretentious way of saying "baby stuff."
if you don't know these things by heart, you may easily be charged with child
Still I listened -- "just because" -- knowing that no matter how
much I learned, this same child would someday turn around and say, "Dad,
you suck." So it goes.
Whereas the prospect of fatherhood has softened me -- for instance, I no
longer race crossing guards through the intersection -- I have to say, "Enough!" We're
not building the baby in a petri dish; we're just making sure that he is
well-loved and doesn't eat his toys. Humans have survived for thousands of
years without sonograms, safety catches, or Dr. Spock. We're so good at surviving
that we may have to colonize Mars.
And Yahaira reads on, not knowing how I feel because this is, after all,
The Baby Bible has taken me through the veins of my unborn child, describing
everything that could go wrong from mental issues inside the womb to fatal
hiccups. I tried to memorize the key points, but that part of my brain overflowed,
leaving me in a pool of too much information, sick of my baby long before
he was ever born.
I don't sleep anymore because I can't tell when Yahaira stops reading and
I start dreaming that Yahaira is reading. The Book has had a wearing, David-Koresh-like
effect on my brain. I can't step out of bed without considering the ramifications
of leading with my right foot and whether the lining in my underwear might
damage my sperm.
Men, listen closely. If you are planning to have a baby, treat your lady
well: pamper her, give her flowers, knead the dough. But do not -- and please
reread that last part -- buy a book on parenting. They are written by a demented
cult of Supermoms who brought us the PTA, child-proof lighters, and the boy's
name Conner. Some say they are even responsible for stem cell research.
And if you feel that you may be coming down with sentimentalism, run to
the nearest pub and drink it off.