There are two words I hear over and over again. Two little words from our doctor that haunt me like a bee in your backyard. These are not complicated SAT words that she keeps using to describe our little girl. They are simple and synonymous, and both are meant to ease our worries. Yet, once our daughter arrives, these two words take on an entirely different meaning.
The first one is "normal." We have no reason to doubt our doctor. So when she continues to tell us that everything is normal, that my wife's pains are normal, and that the baby is percolating like a fresh, normal pot of Folgers coffee on Christmas morning, we truly believe her. I would, however, like to invite our doctor to the Christening, have her observe the two families this child is being born into, and then hear her tell me that everything is still normal. That would provide me more comfort than a pair of slippers on a winter morning.
We didn't start out with this doctor, though. Simply put, we did not like our first doctor. Actually, he was a disaster, but we didn't say anything to each other until AFTER our SECOND visit with him. Probably because neither one of us knew any better. So our first decision as parents came early in my wife's pregnancy, and it was to switch doctors. It may have had something to do with that first exam, when he was probing my wife like he was rummaging through the junk drawer for some new batteries for the remote control.
"Here's one ovary, there's the other. This is your esophagus." I tried to be supportive, since I had no clue how these things were supposed to go: "Wow, honey, that is just the prettiest esophagus I've ever seen!"
This leads to me to dispense my first piece of advice as a parent, for expecting parents: if you don't like your doctor, find another one that you're comfortable with. It may sound simple, but a lot of people, like us in the beginning, may not know any differently.
Think about it this way: This is the first pair of hands that will touch your newborn baby. Do you want them attached to a guy whom you're not confident could hold on to a slinky? Unless, of course, like me, you fear you won't make it to the hospital and are preparing for your baby to be delivered in the Lincoln Tunnel by Sergeant Vincent Sagnetti of the Port Authority Police Department. While we are lucky enough to be delivering at the best hospital in the city, New York Presbyterian, it is located on the Upper East Side. Less than 5 miles away, but a 35 minute drive. The woman who will, hopefully, be delivering our baby is a sweet little Asian firecracker named Dr. Jin. I refer to her as "Dr. Jin, Medicine Woman." She can kick Jane Seymour's bony ass.
So when she says "normal," we relax. But normal in the comfort of the womb is a completely different animal than normal out here. All the doctor needs to do is run a tape measure across my wife's belly and, there you have it, normal baby! But I seriously doubt that child is
going to be normal once I get my hands on her. What if she cries every time I hold her? That may be a normal reaction when I hold my wife, but is it normal for the baby? I promise to work my hardest, every hour of this child's life, to ensure she's normal. That is, not like me.
The other word that keeps coming out of Dr. Jin's mouth: average. The first time I heard it, I was incredulous. "What do mean she's average? She's not above average? My wife and I are very smart people. She can't be a C student already! I'm sure she's well above average." I'm already playing the 'my kid's better than your kid' game. Great.
You never want to be below average. And with most things in life, you want to be above average. But in the case of your newborn baby, when you hear that average little word uttered in that examination room, it comes as quite a relief. Average means she's not too big, not too small. She's so perfect that if she was porridge, Goldilocks would put her in a bowl and eat her with a spoon.
As a side note, the doctor also mentioned that the baby is engaged, which is also apparently, normal. That means she's ready, in position, to come out. I didn't know this. So when I asked Dr. Jin if she had seen the ring, as in the "engagement" ring, she didn't flinch. Not even a courtesy laugh. Lost in translation. I guess she thought my joke was average.
But when this kid comes out, she's going to be anything but average. She's going to be the cutest, most beautiful baby in the history of the world. Even if she's one of those funny-looking Yoda babies, I won't admit it. You know the kind. They resemble chicken when it's not yet cooked, but not raw anymore. Kind of pasty and slimy, dripping with goo. Even if she looks like that, she's going to be much better looking than your average Yoda baby.
My daughter is also going to be a musical prodigy. After all, her father is quite talented in the shower. That is, singing in the shower. She's also going to be an athletic marvel. After all, her father is quite the avid runner. Not to mention, she's going to be an academic genius, and have a hell of a sense of humor because I am the smartest and funniest man alive.
She's also going to be beautiful, sweet, patient, kind, tolerant, and understanding. But she'll get all of those things from her mom.