By the time you read this, it is my younger daughter's profound wish that I will be a grandfather yet again. If not, she is considering having an eviction notice drawn up for the baby she is carrying. I choose not to speculate on how it will be served.
I know many women who enjoy every moment of their pregnancies. They glow, they sparkle, they become possessed of that warm, peaceful serenity that comes from nurturing a living being within your very person.
Ling women? Not so much.
Oh, they're fine through the first six or seven months. A few backaches, a lot of tiredness, the occasional hormonally-driven mood swing that causes the menfolk to scatter like ants exposed by an upturned rock.
Then it gets nasty.
Now, I want to make it clear that I am speaking here with the utmost understanding and sympathy. I have not been offered the opportunity to grow a baby inside me and give birth to it, and if I were, within seconds you wouldn't be able to see me for the dust cloud that would kick up as I headed for the hills.
Honestly, I don't know how women do itonce. The thought of going through everything they endure, then cheerfully volunteering to do itall over againis an utter bafflement to me.
So when I say "It gets nasty", I mean "the experience", as opposed to "the Ling women". Oh, they get nasty, too, but I can hardly blame them. From seven months on, the physical, mental, and emotional burden of pregnancy weighs heavily on them.
You know the theory that if you play soft classical music to a baby in the womb, or read poetry to it, that somehow the baby absorbs the sound or energy and incorporates it into their personality? I hope that's not a valid theory, because if it is, virtually every baby born into my family, including more than a dozen nieces and nephews, has spent the last two months in the womb hearing and absorbing the following message: "GET OUT! RIGHT NOW! I'M TIRED OF THIS. GO! PACK UP AND SHIP OUT! YOU ARE HURTING ME! I WANT MY BODY BACK!". No wonder we never feel welcome anywhere. Well, between that and our personalities, I suppose.
When you spend a couple of months in horrid physical discomfort, it is understandable you might get just a teensy bit ... well, impatient. Impatient with the process, sure, but also impatient with people who don't think things through before they just go and blurt something out.
More than once in the home stretch of her pregnancy she has encountered someone who has looked at her and said, "Haven't you had that baby yet?"
I'm not sure what kind of response people are expecting to that little conversational foray, but I can offer a couple of suggestions:
"Why yes. Yes, I have. It's out in the car. I suppose I should go check on it."
"Baby? What baby?"
That said, I'm not sure what kind of response to give to the two different people - neither close friends - who asked, after learning she'd been to the doctor: "So, how much are you dilated?"
For those of you men who try not to know too much about women stuff, let me rephrase that question in terms you can understand: "Hey, you know the route the baby will soon be taking on its way out? Is it getting wider?"
I'm trying to think of a question that could be more personal than, "So, one digit? Two? Three? How many?" and honestly? I can't.
I just marvel at people whose filters fail them so spectacularly. I mean, of what possible use is that information to anyone? Is someone running a pool based on the relative expansiveness of my daughter's lady bits? If so, please ... stop, okay? Thank you.
And this isn't just me being squeamish about discussing women's workings. Yes, I am quite happy to allow some - well, many - things to remain a mystery, but in this case even my daughter was nonplussed.
"We were in the lunch room," she said. "I would have much rather been discussing who got kicked off "Survivor" than ... uh, that."
Well, if it's not over by the time you read this, it soon will be, and of course I can't wait to see how it all comes out. I mean, the baby. What brand it is, the size, etc. Not how it comes out. I know that.
Or as much as I need to know. Really, as much as anyone needs to know.