Monday, June 25, 2012

You Might Have Seen It Coming...

After yesterday's announcement that my wife and I are expecting our first child in January, I thought it only fair to let you know that I've been hinting around about this quite frequently for the past six weeks, both here in my blog posts and in my Facebook status updates. Some of you might have picked up on one or more of these "clues." If you didn't, don't feel bad. I went out of my way to skirt around this greatest-of-all-possible-secrets in the vaguest, least-likely-to-be-discovered ways, so as not to prematurely spill the beans. But I still couldn't resist dropping hints.

In case you missed them, here's a summary of some of the "clues" I've posted since May 11th, the day we found out we were expecting:

1)  TELLING TITLES:  On May 15th, I wrote a story called "Dead Rabbit." Two days later (May 17th), I wrote one called "Renting Out The Guest Room." On May 23rd, I posted a skit called "Waiting For Something." On May 31st, I posted a story called "Table For Three." While none of the content of these stories specifically had anything to do with pregnancy, all of their titles are either common or obscure euphemisms for pregnancy, or they directly refer to the varying aspects of an expanding family.

2)  ALPHA ALLUSIONS:  I've written an inordinate amount of alpha poetry in the past six weeks, and a large chunk of these poems either directly or indirectly referred to our impending parenthood. Just a few examples...

*  The first poem in the May 21st post reads as follows: "An interesting condition you find yourself in and don't wish to find your way out. Could it be something you've long dreamed and hoped for? There seems to be no room for doubt." Not that most people would know this (I didn't beforehand), but the phrase "an interesting condition" is a Victorian Era euphemism for pregnancy. The poem itself expresses our joy at a potentially successful pregnancy after years and years of dreaming, hoping, and praying. 

Another poem in this cycle reads: "Getting even and staying that way is fine for a time. But you find that someday you want more, you long for it, praying to God, that somehow and some way you can go back to odd." This one doesn't scream "we're pregnant," but it does have a deeper meaning. Let's do the math: When you're single, you're one person, and one is an odd number. When you find someone to spend your life with – though the two become "one" – you are still two individuals, and two is an even number. When you have a child, the family of two becomes a family of three, and three is an odd number. And there you have it. 

Yet another poem in this cycle reads as follows:  "Harbor your fugitives, keep them protected. Just act natural, and they'll remain undetected. When the time's right (you can't be too hasty), unfetter tethers and release them to safety." First of all, "harboring a fugitive" is another cutesy-cutesy euphemism for being pregnant, so there's that. Secondly, the whole point of the poem is that – knowing you're pregnant but no one else can know yet – you do all you can to "act natural" until the time is right to break the news. Finally, the "unfetter tethers" bit refers to delivering the baby, the "tethers" being the umbilical cord.

The final poem in this set alludes to the previous two pregnancies we've had in the past, and the great pain that our losses caused. It reads: "Missing what you've never heard is like pretending good is bad. You can, at times, convince yourself that what is not is something else. But what it really means to lose, is having – taken – never used – an emptiness, a hollow space – a broken heart and featureless face. These are things you never know you missed until they tell you so."

*  The May 29th half-cycle of alpha poetry included the following poem, which was so blatantly obviously about pregnancy (to me, at least) that I was genuinely surprised no one picked up on it. It read:  "Special delivery – is this for me? I didn't order it. I wasn't expecting to receive anything. I placed an order long ago, but that one was canceled. Apparently, they were out of stock or it had been shipped to the wrong address, or something like that. But this? Now? Are you sure you've got the right house? I can see that it has my name on it, but I don't know why they've sent it. I guess I shouldn't ask that question. I should take what I've been given and simply say 'thank you.'" And I should. And I did. We both did.

Another poem in this cycle expressed my frustration at trying desperately not to spill the beans, despite the fact that – per my self-imposed blogging goal – I have to write about something every day, and the one thing that really want to talk about is the one thing I can't. The poem reads: "This is me acting natural, as though there's nothing to hide, as though it's all out in the open. This is my clown mask, mean to distract. Are you distracted? This is my poker face, meant to confuse. Are you confused? This is the substance of things hoped for. Do you believe?"

*  The June 2nd alpha poetry post was also filled with hints, many of them dealing with my ongoing battles to keep my big mouth shut and not give anything away in my writing. I also dealt with questions and fears about impending fatherhood.

The "A" poem here was written to express my fears that any child of mine would inherit my weirdness. It read:  "Acorns don't fall far from trees, so I worry when I think of me, and all the quirks and crazy things my mind cooks up – what does that mean? I dare to wish (with hesitation) there's hope for the next generation."

In the "F" poem here, I was brutally honest about my feelings. I didn't (and still don't) know enough about what all is involved in pregnancy and delivery. But I'm voraciously reading the pregnancy books now to "catch up on the things I've missed by giving up and letting go" because "now I know I have to know."

The meaning of the "H" poem here is now self-evident. It reads: "Hard to swallow, harder to deny. This is hello and not goodbye. We've never been this far before. But here we are, and there is more."

In the "Y" poem, I somewhat comically "scolded" our unborn child, though I did explain myself later in the poem. It read: "You've got some nerve coming in here, rocking the boat, demanding all kinds of changes, staying as long as you feel like it. You know what you can do? Make yourself at home – that's what you can do."

*  The June 12th half-stack of alpha poetry included a few more hints. For example...

The "C" poem once again tackled my self-imposed silence, and my struggle with that. It read: "Cat got my tongue? No, I'm holding it willingly. Bursting to tell someone, it's almost killing me. Sooner than later the time will have come. A sigh of relief when it's all said and done."

The "H" poem here was a love song – of sorts – to our unborn child, as well as an open admission of my current unpreparedness. It read: "Head over heels in love with someone I can't even see. Weeks from now I will, but today, it's still a dream. Scared that when we meet I won't be ready – I won't know all that I'm supposed to after the first "hello." I'm new at this, I'm awkward, and I think I'm learning slow. My goal – like theirs – until that time is – every day – to grow."

The "L" poem here's meaning will now be self-evident: "Light at the end of the tunnel seems much brighter these days – not just in dreams. Could it be that the dark is lifting? Could it be that the tide is shifting? Steady footing on a slippery slope reminds me there is always hope."

*  A few scattered lines from the June 18th alpha poetry post also contained clues...

In the "T" poem here, I wrote: "Taken by surprise, I put on my best 'whoa!' face. And the funny thing is, I'm not even acting! How is this even possible? I'm still in shock, weeks later. They say seeing is believing – well, I will, and I will. Hearing helps too – that comes sooner. But knowing it to be true – unseen and unheard – just knowing is still enough to blow me away."

The "W" poem here reads: "What do you do when everything changes? What do you do when your mind is blown? What do you say when things are strangest? What do you say when you're facing the known? I'll tell you when I find out."

3)  RANDOM REFERENCES:  Every now and then, in the middle of an otherwise completely unrelated post, I would slip in a little hint or clue that I knew would never be detected unless you knew to look for it. For example...

*  On May 18th, I posted a list of "The 20 Worst Songs I've Ever Heard." The #2 song on the list was Paul Anka's "You're Having My Baby." In my comments about that song, I discussed the various aspects of pregnancy – "morning (and sometimes night) sickness, swollen feet, strange cravings" – aspects that I was already seeing first-hand in my own wife at that time.

*  On May 24th, I posted a list of "40 Interesting Things About The Number 40." Number 7 on the list read as follows: "The average term of 40 weeks. How amazing that a brand new human being can come into existence in so short a time – though most women would probably agree that those are the longest 40 weeks of their lives!" As aforementioned, this factoid about pregnancy was placed at number 7, which was completely intentional, since Mary was 7 weeks pregnant at the time.

*  On May 27th, I posted "Drabble On And On... – Three Kitchen-Themed Drabbles." These stories in and of themselves had nothing to do with pregnancy. However, there was, embedded in each one, a clue. The first drabble, entitled "The Cookie Jar," featured a character named Heinrich Zwangerschap. Unless you're fluent in Dutch, you wouldn't have caught this – but the word "zwangerschap" just happens to be the Dutch word for "pregnancy." But wait, there's more! The main character in the third drabble, which is entitled "Get-By Goulash," is named Dora Terhesség. Dora, as described in the story, is Hungarian by birth. If you had happened to look up the word "terhesség" in an online translator, you would have found that it too translates into English as "pregnancy." In that story, I also used the phrase "the family way", which is yet another cutesy euphemism for pregnancy. The second story's clue exists solely in its title. I knew I couldn't get away with titling a story "A Bun In The Oven" – that phrase is way too obvious as a pregnancy euphemism. But if I shortened it to simply "In The Oven," I figured I might could sneak it in there.

*  On June 5th, I posted a collection of three unusual drabbles . In the second one, entitled "Alexis' Exes," the first-person narrator, whom we assume to be Alexis, lists off a number of guys with whom she has been recently involved, none of whom had worked out as long-term relationships. When you look at the first letter of each of these guys' names in order, you will find an interesting message that I'm 100% certain no one who read this noticed (and why would they?):

If you were to go back and look over any one of my posts since May 11th, you'd be likely to find quite a few more clues and hints other than the ones I've listed here. I just couldn't help myself from throwing little stuff in here and there. But now that it's all out in the open, I won't toy with you, the reader, any longer. I'll just say what's on my mind without veiling it in vague minutiae.

Thank you all for your many congratulations on our pregnancy, and for your continued prayers that we will have a happy, healthy pregnancy without complications. Stay tuned here, and I'll keep you all posted on how things are progressing.

Grace and peace!


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