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The Alien Among Us

In the Alien movies, people have things that move around in their stomachs before they gnaw through the chest and bloodily pop out. Yesterday all those gas-bladder 1979-era special effects suddenly looked really fake to me.

No, we didn't have a premature birth. Yesterday, after seven months, I felt my son move for the first time. Felt and saw him move. It looked a hell of a lot like the Alien movie, only it was real.

You would think that such an event would be a moment of bonding for my family, and yes, it was — but I was also glad my wife couldn't hear my thoughts. Becoming an expectant father wasn't what I expected — I found I had way too stereotypical expectations, that I expected instant love and affection for the baby that was soon going to join us. I had expected, perhaps demanded of myself, that I would love the baby from the first moment of its conception, if only I could pin down when that moment happened. But I didn't instantly feel love for Ronan, because the whole thing seems surreal. I'm gonna be a father? I'm sure it seemed real for Terry, with the nausea, the excitement of her husband telling everyone he met and utterly violating her privacy, and the obvious changes taking place. But I didn't have the eureka moment until I saw Terry's belly move like a tossed pizza yesterday. Holy #$%^&!@&, I'm going to be a father!

Movement is one of the signs that your baby is doing well. In fact, the doctor told Terry it would feel like mice crawling across her belly at first, just tiny twittering. I immediately wondered what hellhole the doctor lived in during her pregnancies, because I don't actually know what it's like to have mice crawl across my rather large belly (it's only recently that Terry's belly is bigger than mine.) Terry also didn't feel any mice across her belly, so out came the ultrasound machine. Immediately my crisis instincts kicked in, meaning I started to tightly grip the chair and shut up the wisecracking. After a short skipped heartbeat (mine, not Ronan's) the familiar waa-waa-waa of the fetal heat monitor kicked in, and the doctor said all was well.

After that, we got the sheets. As if pregnancy wasn't hard enough, Terry has to spend an hour of her day laying down and focusing on her belly. For 30 minutes after breakfast and dinner Terry lies down and counts movements and writes them down. The tally sheets have the scary/calm warning "If you do not feel five movements within 30 minutes, proceed to the hospital or call your doctor." Which is not panic inducing in the least. I read the sheet, which lists what counts as baby movement and what doesn't (no mice are mentioned) and pretty much any movement could be discounted under the rules. Thankfully Terry knows her own body and knows what's Ronan's, but a less informed mom might spend a lot of time on the phone with the OB/GYN.

Thankfully Terry has always felt movement, but the tally sheets don't take into account that babies sleep in the womb. So sometimes she has to gently poke him to get him to move around. Also not covered on the sheet is that pregnant woman + bed = sleep, so sometimes Terry nods off when she's supposed to be counting movements. Overall I imagine less grounded pregnant women would hate this part of the pregnancy. It's merely irritating for Terry.

Anyway, when I was lucky enough to catch the baby movement, the kid flipped over — I mean flipped over — and Terry's whole stomach moved. For a second I thought we were about to have a premature birth, but Terry said Ronan does that from time to time. It was awesome! He really moved, completely turn over. I was stunned at how Terry's stomach actually looked like he was going to crawl out her belly button.

I think it was at that moment I emotionally accepted that I'm actually going to be a father. I know that sounds stupid – intellectually I've known that I was going to be a Dad since June 2006. But here was the physical proof trying to climb out of Terry's belly. I think it's one of those life-defining moments that you never forget.


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Comments (1)

Yes, you do remember it forever. We were driving down the highway on a 6 hour ride toward my Mom's house and Little Man did a complete flip and the belly went bonkers. Prior to that, I felt his little kicks, but this was surreal. And we joked about the Alien movies too. Wifey said it felt like an alien was taking over her body. So much for those glorious white rooms exposed belly magical pregnancy moments, eh? It's so much more visceral and intense and wonderful and weird. Welcome. ;-)

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