I took a break from my adoring Guitar Hero fans to head to the living room and watch Notes from the Underbelly with Meg. The timing of that show debuting couldn’t be any better, and we find ourselves looking at each other realizing we’ve had many of the conversations that take place on the show. In particular, last night Meg was nodding profusely as one of the characters related the benefits of being a non-working mother.

I wasn’t surprised to find the Pregnasaur grazing on her latest prey: Snickers ice cream. I’ve become accustomed to seeing her walled up on the couch with a perpetual stream of food amidst a sea of baby books and magazines. What I wasn’t expecting was to find she had pulled up her shirt to rest atop of her now exposed 30 week pregnant belly.

To be honest, I was more surprised that she can eat with her stomach visible in plain sight. She, like many other women, has found that her once recessed belly button has decided to pop out. I can only theorize that the purpose of this is to determine that if her belly button sees its shadow, the baby has another six weeks of pregnancy. I mention this atrocity because the sight of it wigs me out something fierce, and among other reactions, I lose my appetite. Meg has since learned to use this as a consistent mechanism to add to her food supply by offering to finish what I may have been eating at the time.

As if that wasn’t enough, she has also developed a dark brown line that extends from roughly her sternum to the abomination that is her belly button. There’s a second, parallel but disconnected, line that continues from her meat-thermometer belly button down a few inches. Since the doctor was unable to provide me a real explanation for the phenomenon, I’ve come up with my own theory: Once the baby is ready to be born, an arrow head will appear at the bottom of the line to direct the baby on which way to go. I’m still deciding through which university I want to publish my findings and receive my medical degree.

Apparently, Meg did have a motive that did not center around causing me to wince at the very sight of her. The baby was kicking.

Actually, kicking isn’t the right word anymore. I’m not sure it was ever the right word, since we could never be sure it was a foot causing the visible stomach spasms. Whatever the case, we’re past the stage of simple kicks. Now, we can flat out see movement.

The best way to describe it is to think back to Bugs Bunny cartoons. Remember when Bugs would dig underground and travel to… wherever it was he was going. On the surface, you would just see a lump in the ground above Bugs’ position.

That’s what Meg was looking at when I came upstairs. Every so often, a bump would appear, breaking the symmetrical roundness of her belly. The bump would then move across her stomach and eventually disappear again. We’re not sure if it’s a foot, elbow, or ass, but something in there is running out of room. Meg finds it magical. I think it’s downright creepy, and now wonder if choosing some form of underground burrowing rodent would have made for a more accurate animal imagery of the baby.

And no, we’re not considering “Phil Dobies” as a possibility, despite the obvious reference.

Last Saturday, I arrived at JJ’s apartment at about 4:00pm. The agenda? A night of drinking and video games.

“Hey, how was the drive?”
“Take me to the emergency room. Now.”

My BJJ school has been running pure greco-roman wrestling classes for a few weeks now. It’s a supplement to jiu-jitsu, since many of the takedowns in BJJ originate from wrestling in the first place. In a way, it’s a much more toned down class since we don’t run any live matches at the end. On the other hand, since we’re practicing take downs, you’re getting thrown to the mat for an hour and a half, which does take its toll.

Not surprisingly, there’s a ton of different ways to get injured. I’ve had my share of issues, as subtle as a hyper-extended elbow and as severe as a sports hernia that required surgery. I’ve come to track my progress from one integral injury to the emergence of the next.

The annoying injuries are the ones that don’t make sense. I expect that if I’m sitting in an arm bar refusing to tap, my elbow is going to be sore for the next few weeks. For this particular incident, well, I’m not even sure what happened. It’s a pain in the ass to describe exactly what I was doing, so I’ll just say that we were drilling techniques rather than any sort of real fight. In short, I pulled a muscle in my neck. Badly.

When I got home from practice, I spent the next 45 minutes moving a ton of boxes from the baby’s room into our newly floored attic. Yes, that probably wasn’t the best decision, but at that point I had to choose my pain: neck pain from the lifting or ear pain from the Pregnasaur howling that I still hadn’t moved the boxes.

By the time I got to JJ’s, I was having brutal neck spasms. We quickly– well, as quickly as I could move with constant neck spasms– got in his car.

“Where is the hospital?”
“Don’t look at me, you’re the one who lives out here.”
“Ya, but I’m not dumb enough to hurt myself and never had to go. You lived out here for four years, I figured you’d know by now.”

Five minutes later.

“I think there’s one in Bryn Mawr.”
“You think?”
“It’s either a hospital or a Burger King, and I’m hungry.”
“Fine, just don’t hit any bumps while driving, I can’t handle another spasm.”

Thirty seconds later.

“Honestly, did you have to accelerate over the speed bump?”

We get to the hospital and I have to explain to no less than five people why I live in New Jersey but decided to travel all the way to Bryn Mawr (in PA, roughly an hour from where I live for those of you who don’t know the area) to go to the emergency room. Meanwhile, JJ points out the surprisingly high number of attractive girls in the waiting room. He makes plans to change his dating strategy.

I’ve been to a number of emergency rooms in my life, and the one thing that has been consistent is that if you’re not bleeding profusely, they don’t consider it an emergency. I was therefore surprised to find that it only took about 20 minutes to see a doctor.

“What happened?”
“He fell down some stairs.”
“Shut up JJ, go wait outside.”

The doctor then begins a series of tests that involve poking and prodding around the very area I described as hurting. After a few minutes, she tells me she’s going to give me muscle relaxers for the spasms and Percocet for the pain.

Jackpot!

I try to hide my excitement. She tells me that unfortunately, I won’t be able to drink with JJ tonight because of the medication. I didn’t really care and in fact encouraged JJ to drink anyway, since I’d be loopy enough with my magical pills.

The good news is that, as of four days later, I thankfully feel largely healed. Meg’s very excited about that, not for my well being, but because JJ’s coming over this weekend to paint baby’s room and assemble the crib. I’ll be sure to find the local emergency room ahead of time.

Attic Flooring Project Stat Sheet

Number of Dobies 2
Number of successful cuts 23
Number of miscalculated cuts 2
Number of coffee tables cut 1
Amount of gas farted ~ 13 cubic feet
Number of appendages cut off by circular saw 0
Number of times blood was shed 1
Number of splinters 5

With just about two and a half months left until the baby is born (less, if we have our way and the kid comes early), I really need to start chipping away at the to do list Meg has ominously posted on the refrigerator.

I’ve been the lead on a few software projects in the past, so I’m not entirely foreign to the concept of dependency management. I need to paint the baby’s room. But to do that, I need to remove all of the shit that has started to collect dust from the room. I can’t even start that until I lay some more plywood in the attic. Since our sweet new pull down stairs have been installed, the flooring was next on the list.

I decided to give JJ a break on this project. Before people think I’m past my deceptive ways of offering rum only to blindside the poor guy with a paintbrush and a hammer, I’m not. He’s coming over next weekend to paint the baby’s room. Don’t worry JJ, the rum will be in the freezer well before Saturday.

In his place, I recruited my dad for this project. He showed up with tools I didn’t even know existed. Apparently, my idea of cutting the plywood with a box cutter was a bit ill-conceived.

My mom didn’t even flinch when I asked him for help, and showed up with the intention of taking Meg to every baby store in an immediate 100 mile radius.

After a quick trip to Lowe’s for the plywood, along with a quick and painful lesson on why I shouldn’t hold an 8’x2′ sheet of plywood perpendicular to the wind, we got started. After a few quick measurements, my dad produces a device that I have only seen in the Saw series of movies.

“It’s your house, do you want to make the first cut?”
“Sure.”
“You’re holding it backwards.”
“Uh… ya, I knew that. I was checking the… rotator splint.”
“Now it’s upside down.”
“Ya know, maybe you should make the first cut.”

Now is probably a good time to explain the scenario. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I didn’t have a sawhorse. So we grabbed the two closest objects that were roughly the same height: a coffee table and an old computer.

My father takes the first cut. That goes fine, he follows the lines, and off pops the notch we were trying to create so we can get around the beams in the attic.

“Oops.”

We lifted the plywood to find a very clean cut four inches into the coffee table. I assume since it was in the garage that Meg didn’t want it anyway, and we go about our cutting.

I decide it’s my time to try my hand at the circular saw. I’m superstitious enough to not phrase it that way at the time, since I didn’t like the idea of mentioning “my hand” and “circular saw” in the same sentence.

“You missed the line.”
“I see that, dad.”
“You also cut about two inches deeper than you were supposed to.”
“Yup, noticed that too. Get me the spare sheet.”

About half way through the process, I realize that, while I lack any really effective tools, I do own a pair of goggles. Koob, my Junior year Chemistry teacher, would be disappointed in me for forgetting them (I’d explain that comment more, but it wouldn’t do it justice). It turned out to not matter, since somehow I still managed to get pegged in the eye with shit tons of sawdust and pieces of wood as I cut.

Amazingly, we survived without falling through the ceiling Clark Griswold-style or any trips to the emergency room. We actually had fun and we had to stop a few times because we were laughing too hard. I say “we” had to stop, but it was actually because dad was laughing and I was cursing up a storm from having hit my head on a beam. I can only suppose it’s a right of passage, and someday years from now I’ll watch my kid fumble around and hurt himself. Then I’ll call Uncle Eric to come help out and I’ll skip right to the rum.