The second I learned I was going to be a dad, I felt the ground beneath my feet fall away, leaving me to swirl in an information vacuum. My complete lack of knowledge about all things inter-uterine left me with no choice. I needed to know everything about being a dad—instantly.
So, to the Internet I went: How else would I educate myself about what’s going on inside the shapely and expanding confines of my wife Hannah, without reading actual books, I mean?
The ensuing online cramming session left me bleary-eyed but hardly better informed than I had been before. No surprise, most of what I encountered was of the product-placement-in-very-thin-disguise variety. From the first time I entered “expectant father” as a Boolean search term, I felt the red targeting dots of e-marketing snipers take their aim from behind every advertorial and infotisement. Sure, it was easy to find out which formula six out of seven non-lactating moms preferred, but that hardly provided the sort of cold, empirically scientific data I craved.
And then, I discovered online pregnancy calendars, customized timelines charting my fetus’ rise to glory. Daily news on Future Kid’s development, nice and standardized-like. Here’s what it had for me the other day:
Baby weighs 0.81 ounces or 23 grams. Baby is 2.19 inches or 7.4 cm
Numbers, decimals, even metric weight: Insecure guys like me, who don’t have much to do for the next couple of trimesters, desperately need kind of reassuringly authoritative data to validate our existences, which otherwise center around keeping the house reasonably clean and telling our wives (or partners) they’re not fat. The online pregnancy calendar was instantly bookmarked, its daily, incontestably factual update a part of the routine.
But for all the comfort they afford, I quickly learned that OPCs came with dark underbellies of unhappiness.
First, there’s the inevitable confusion created by conflicting sources of information: On the same day Junior/Juniorette was a getting-sand-kicked-in-the-face-at-fetal-beach 2.19 inches on one calendar, I had another telling me s/he was approaching the placental-bursting size of 3.25 inches.
That’s a discrepancy equivalent to between one-third and one-half of the wee one’s overall length. In grown up terms, this would be like one doctor telling me, a 6’ 3” man, that I’m standing a full three feet tall. I don’t know about you, but I’d walk my mis-measured ass out that doctor’s door, assuming I could reach the knob.
But sifting through the competing sources (My solution to everything is to split the difference: Fetus is 2.74 inches long) is nothing compared to the challenge of calculating the conversion rates of fetal progress between them: According to one site a week ago, my genetic messenger to the future was the size of “A Jumbo Shrimp.”
Setting aside A) the inherently oxymoronic quality of the comparison animal and B) our shared vegetarian revulsion to said critter, the reference itself left Hannah and me at odds as to what our kid’s actual size was: I thought that at 12 weeks, we had to be past the shrimp analogies altogether, and was certain the site meant to say “Prawn.”
That led to a general meditation and conversation about shrimps and prawns, which if you think about it are just big bugs that live on the ocean floor, and we didn’t appreciate this site talking about our family that way. Hannah was then subjected to an olfactory flashback of unpleasant seafood cooking odors from her youth and got very nauseated. Thanks, guys.
This week, another site has informed me that my proto-spawn is the size of “a lime.”
What kind of fucking lime?! Key limes are tiny. Lime-limes are mighty and robust, quite capable of kicking a key lime’s ass. But I’m not sure how a lime would do against either a jumbo shrimp or a prawn.
Looking ahead in the calendar doesn’t do much to bring clarity. In a few weeks, Future Kid will go from being the size of “an apple” to that of “an avocado.”
What? Aren’t many—if not most—apples larger than avocados?
I know there will be many more confusing moments than this in my future as a dad-to-be and a parent, so I’ve come to the decision to pace myself. Maybe visit the local library.
Which is why I’m not paying any further attention to the OPC or its vexing fetal size comparisons.
At least, not until the kid is a good burrito’s worth of bigness.
From Dadified, By Jeffrey Wachs
Photo courtesy of Offsprung