In a few other earlier posts, I mentioned my friend Matt Z. He and is wife Jenny came up and helped us a lot in the week right after Ginny was born. Jenny is a nervous cleaner, and thankfully she got nervous at our house and helped Wendy do a great job of cleaning for us. Honestly, they did a much better job than we would have done.
While Jenny and Wendy were inside cleaning, Matt and Doug were outside doing yard work. They also did a much better job than I would have. After they were done with the work they came to the hospital for a short visit. "When you get home, I've got a surprise for you," Matt said. Those words usually send a shiver down my spine. Matt and I rarely see each other without consuming substances known to impair our ability to operate machinery. In fact we are often too impaired to operate the remote control for the DVD player and end up watching Borat four times in a row.
When Rachel and I finally pulled in the driveway that night at about 11:00, we immediately saw the surprise. In addition to raking the entire yard, Matt and Doug had rented a pressure washer and washed the house, walkway, porch, and driveway. Well, almost the entire driveway. When the headlights hit end of the driveway, we saw a 3 foot square of black with a giant letter "Z" in it. "That sumbitch painted my driveway," I grumbled. When I got out of the car I realized that he had pressure washed the entire driveway, but left a square with a clean Z.
"Once I got done with the "Z", I realized I should have done an H," he said when we got inside. "Oh well, an artist has to sign his work, I guess." I laughed, and I liked it so much I left it. Now I use it as a landmark to give directions to the house. It's probably good he didn't do the H anyway. The Shands helicopter might have tried to land in the driveway.
This weekend Jenny and Matt came up to visit. Great news: Jenny is pregnant! Apparently our experience over the last two months has not scared them out of having babies. After congratulating them, Matt and I sat down for an adult beverage. I promised him I wouldn't give him any unsolicited advice on getting through pregnancy and childbirth - the man's perspective. I got plenty of unsolicited advice, and - quite frankly - it can get obnoxious and annoying. If he wanted advice, I told him he would have to ask.
Then I got to thinking about all the great kernels of wisdom I have gained over the last eleven months. They are just too good not to share. Here are a few of them, just for you Matt:
First, no matter how strong the urge over the next nine months - and the urge will be strong - you must never utter the question "What the hell are you crying about?" You should never do this because: A) That question will not stop the crying, and; B) The answer will probably be "I don't know." Just give her a hug and quickly go out to the garage and work on something. It will pass.
I know it will be a pain to clean out her cat's litter box, but she just can't do it. There is just too much risk of toxoplasmosis that she could pass on to the baby. Think of it as a trade-off: In exchange for you cleaning up after her cat, she will be your designated driver for nine months. Be careful not to rub it in, though. When you're drunk and she's not, she can do a very good job of making that tumble down the stairs look like an accident. You don't want to go to work with rug burn on your forehead. Again.
Boobs! They don't call them fun-bags for nothing. Just be gentle because at times they will be sore. Also, now you can be your own lactation consultant. You were starting to freak Rachel out.
Go to as many doctors appointments with her as you can. She'll appreciate the support and you'll be able to help her remember stuff she forgets. I think I read that pregnancy kills like 83.5% of a woman's brain cells, so she'll need help remembering. This is also a good time to start keeping a list of all the people you watch put their hands in your wife's vagina. (They're checking her cervix. Honest.) If labor and delivery gets a little tough (like ours), this list can get quite extensive. It's a good idea to keep a small notebook and pen handy.
Fat jokes - Really, only I can get away with that kind of stuff. Leave it to the professionals.
Don't let your wife get discouraged if her obstetrician doesn't want to be "friends" on Facebook. She might have a "once I have my hands in your vagina we can't be Facebook friends" policy. It's a good thing you don't have that policy. You'd have a lot less friends.
Don't spend a lot of money on cutesy little nursery decorations with cliche sayings like "Precious" and "Daddy's Little Angel". Instead, make your own. Use classic parental sayings like, "I'll give you something to cry about!", and "Wait until your father gets home!" and my favorite "This is why we don't have nice things!"
Seriously though, congratulations. A year from today, you won't remember what life was like without that kid. I think that's nature's way of numbing the pain.