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Help us! We're pregnant!


WE'RE pregnant!

Actually, she's pregnant. I am merely the accessory to the crime, as it were. Although it is a frightening idea. If men got pregnant, you can bet the farm there'd be a whole lot more elbow room in the world.

Anyway, it happened in the normal way. She pestered me for 10 years about having kids and I finally relented.

Actually, that's not quite the truth. She wanted kids. I did not. And not because I don't like them, but because I've never fully abandoned the view of myself as a child, and, quite frankly, I wasn't ready to share my toys.

Fine by her. She was willing to wait, just not forever. So from time to time she would turn to me and say, "Tick," which was her way of reminding me that her biological alarm clock was running.

Not that I needed the reminding. I have a mother. Mothers are nature's way of ensuring the survival of the species, and nagging is their tool.

"Aren't the two of you pregnant yet?" my mother has said to me at one point during just about every conversation we've had over the past decade. "C'mon, get with it!"

Finally, a few months ago, she got her wish. Marcia's alarm went off like the bells of Notre Dame, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find the snooze button.

Again, I'm teasing. It was a mutual decision. It was time, we figured, unless we wanted to someday be the only grandparents on the block sharing their grandchildren's baby food.

Although, I will admit that Marcia was a wee bit more, ahem, serious about the whole thing than I was.

How can I put this delicately? Remember the Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau? And remember Kato, Clouseau's sidekick who was under orders to attack the great detective without warning?

I was Clouseau. She was Kato. Capish?

Strangely enough, this approach didn't work, not that Marcia was deterred. She bought a book and figured out the time of Will I be a good father? Will I say the right things? Will I repeat my parents' sins and successes? And the big one -- am I ready for this?

the month she was most likely to get pregnant. Then, when that moment arrived, she would call me on the phone at work.

"I'm ovvvvulaaaating!" she would say in a sing-songy voice.

And I would sigh, stop what I was doing and shuffle on home to do my duty, feeling somehow like Man-O-War in his stud years.

It did the trick, though. We are due in February, and everything is moving along just fine. Marcia has already picked out 10 names she likes, her mother has already rejected those 10 and has provided her with a substitute list, which my mother has reviewed and summarily rejected.

We'll end up calling the kid X.

We're also busy telling our friends the good news. Of course, they're happy for us, but you can tell the childless friends are thinking, "You poor saps. You'll never dine out in peace again."

And the ones with children are thinking, "Aha! Payback time!"

Boy, teach a few kids how to make underarm noises and some people never forgive you.

Needless to say, these friends will never meet my children.

Me? I'm thrilled. A son, a daughter, it doesn't matter which. In my mind, one has already signed to play shortstop for the Detroit Tigers and the other is a Supreme Court Justice. And Clarence Thomas better not offer her a Coke, if you know what I mean.

I'm also a little worried. Will I be a good father? Will I say the right things? Will I repeat my parents' sins and successes? And the big one -- am I ready for this?

It's probably too late for that, though. Like fathers, life has a way of teaching you to swim by tossing you in the lake. Once you're in, there's no use worrying about being wet. Just paddle like hell and hope you're doing it right.

That doesn't make it any less scary. Change, especially when you've been childless adults for as long as we have, isn't easy.

The other day, for instance, we were driving in the car when a minivan full of children and smeared windows sped by. It had wood-paneling on the side, just like my parent's station wagon, and one of those obnoxious "Baby On Board" signs stuck to the glass.

"You know," said Marcia, a grin breaking across her face. "There's one of those in our future."

A minivan? Me?

Help me. I'm so afraid.

Andrew Heller is a columnist for the Flint (Mich.) Journal.

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