Well, let's postpone that question until we've looked at some of the life-altering considerations it entails. There are several important questions you should ask yourself at this point. That statement presupposes that conscious thought has been part of your process up until now, but we'll proceed anyway.
Some of those questions are:
- Are you out of your mind?
- If the answer to that one is "no", "probably not", or "I don't think so", let's move on.
- How are you at staying up all night? For the next 19 years? If sleep deprivation is not your strong suit, perhaps you should consider alternatives like getting a dog or cat.
Making a Baby
This Handy Guide to Pregnancy is about what happens after that bit. If you prospective parental units don't know how this happens, perhaps getting a cat is a much better idea.
It's not a complicated process, but exceeds the scope of this Guide. There are plenty of good books out there about how to make a baby; this quickly-written article isn't one of them.
It's recommended that you ask a handy existing parental unit, counselor, or random stranger at Joe's Bar for advice. ("Hi, random stranger. I'm a prospective parental unit, and need advice on how to make a baby!")
That last bit is perhaps not the best approach, and can result in pregnancy. Proceed with caution.
So, You've Created a Baby. Are You Out of Your Mind?
Oops; it's too late for that, now. So congratulations! If you're lucky, you're on your way to producing a small life-form which will eventually resemble a human being.
The First Trimester: young female-type person, you can now look forward to a few months (2.7, more or less; your mileage may vary) of happiness and bliss. Your body's hormones will begin rearranging themselves in order to produce a sort of euphoria to blind you to what's coming next.
Second Trimester: your clothes will be getting too tight at this point, so now's a good time to invest in some high-quality tents or store-front awnings which will come in handy during the third trimester. The hormones which made you so giddy during the first 2.7 months will now cause you to cry at the drop of a hat. In fact, you may drop the hat yourself, to disguise the fact that you're crying because it's Thursday. Or because it's cloudy.
You will also receive advice to eat more ("You're eating for two, you know.") It's recommended that you take this advice with a grain of salt, because that second person is only baseball-sized. It's not like you're carrying a contestant for The Biggest Loser! That comes in the
Third Trimester: those tents and awnings will come in handy now, as you have been unable to pass a chocolate display without loading up. (My own personal wife craved strawberry milkshakes during her first pregnancy, and we only just managed to avoid stopping for one last shake on the way to the hospital.)
At this point, your belly button will precede you into the next room by several seconds, and may acquire its own zip code.
As you near the end of the Third Trimester, which some believe to be as long as a geological epoch, you'll begin to experience "contractions", a nifty euphemism which doctors use to avoid the actual term "pain". Even mothers who've had babies of their own (hint: that's how one becomes a "mother") will avoid the topic, as misery loves company.
I'll give you a moment to think that over. Of course, it's too late to do anything about it now.
Your doctor, experienced parental unit, or the biker dude from Joe's Bar will have given you a "due date", which any third-grader could do by counting nine months on the calendar. You can ignore the due date by checking your doctor's calendar, as your baby will want to arrive whenever the doctor is on a European vacation or around-the-world cruise.
Hint: if you still haven't asked where the baby comes out, now might be a good time, because next comes the
This is another euphemism for "everybody in the hospital will be looking at you while you're naked." This total loss of privacy is another thing that mothers won't tell you about, and for the same reason as before. The only thing missing from the delivery room, if you're lucky, will be the camera crew from National Geographic.
Everyone around you will keep telling you how "really great" you're doing. Meanwhile, you'll be bending the side rails on the bed, and/or your Significant Other's hand, as the "contractions" come in waves.
The medical professionals will tell you not to push yet, for a mystic reason based on the phase of the moon or something, until they finally say to go ahead. At this point, the only thing you'll want is to a) be anyplace else, and b) claw the eyes out of the stream of visitors who are apparently fascinated by your now-exposed bits, as if they hadn't seen the same thing thousands of times before.
But it's too late to change your mind, so after 28 hours of mind-bending "contractions", you'll be briefly shown a messy, wrinkly Raisinette which they'll claim is your baby, before it's whisked away to some mysteriously department where the alleged offspring is washed, detailed and buffed before being brought back to you.
Congratulations, You're a Parent! Now What?
The remainder of your hospital stay (approximately 4.3 hours, based on current insurance regulations) will be spent trying to figure out how to feed the baby. The topic of breastfeeding is best left to Nurse Ratchet or perhaps your mother, if she's stopped laughing by now.
However, the scariest part will occur when you are leaving the hospital with a newborn baby in your arms. ("Wait, what? Isn't there an owner's manual or something?") You get to take the little thing home!
For the drive home, you'll need a ride, preferably an automobile. The infant car seat is only one generation removed from the Iron Maiden, and it's recommended that you practice installing the device before trying to stuff a baby in it.
The seat comes with an internal harness, and sports multiple grooves, notches, latches, buckles, and a wiring harness for which you'll need a construction crew until you have the procedure memorized. Note that the baby must face rearward; apparently newborns are scared of driving, or perhaps they like seeing where they've just been.
For your arrival home, you'll need:
- a crib
- industrial tarps
- wet wipes
- 400 infant diapers (a 24-hour supply)
- Baby Magic lotion (it's the law, or something)
- aprons for yourself, as changing diapers is akin to sitting in the front row at a Gallagher performance.
Next time: Raising a Child, or Remember That Social Life You Used to Have?