We have the week off for “White Week”, and all 2.5 Weisbergers are on a plane to Belgium. Why 2.5? Rachel will be 20 weeks pregnant tomorrow, exactly halfway.
I’m writing this after putting my current book back in my backpack, The Expectant Father, 4th Edition. Next on my list is Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (it was listed as “Frequently bought together” with the first book on Amazon). We’ve had several ultrasounds and appointments now, and everything seems fine: 10 fingers, 10 toes, little button nose, thin nucal transparency, all the things you hope for when you look at the little alien growing inside your wife. If the kid hits the due date, (s)he’ll be born on July 8, 2018, which also happens to be our two year wedding anniversary. So, it seems like there’s a pretty damn good chance that we’re going to be parents.
We’re both happy, and we’re both nervous. It’s more than a little weighty, creating a person that you plan to take care of for the rest of your life. So, when people ask if we’re excited the answer is “Of course”, but there’s definitely some fear back there. These days, I listen more intently when people talk about having kids, and Barack Obama himself offered his perspective recently when he was on Dave Letterman’s new Netflix show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction”. He said that having a kid is like living with your heart outside your body. You watch them stumble around in the world, completely unaware of how vulnerable and terribly important they are to your well-being, and I guess you do your best to manage that.
Sounds pretty scary, but we’ve also had Rosie for a couple years now, so I think we’ll be fine.
We’ll have our next appointment on February 27 or 28 (I forget), the week we return to school after this break, and that will be our big morphological exam with Dr. Muscatello. Our normal doctor is Dottoressa Anna Paola Cavalieri. She’s great: speaks good English, very calm and considerate, feels trustworthy and knowledgeable. And we’re glad we’ve found somebody we trust, because we’re planning to have the baby here, in Italy.
When we tell people this, they tend to be surprised, which is understandable – “Why choose to have a baby in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language, don’t know the culture, and you have no family to rely on?” If you guessed the main reason was money, you were absolutely correct. We don’t have health insurance in the US anymore, which means if there were any complications whatsoever the birth could easily cost us tens of thousands of dollars. I know it’s brave for me to put this out there, but I think American health care is too expensive. There, I said it. Unfortunately, however, having the baby here in Italy will not make him/her an Italian citizen. Europe doesn’t treat citizenship as a birthright the same way we do in the US. We can still name the baby Luigi or Francesca though, so his/her Italian roots shan’t be forgotten.
As a final note, you may have noticed that I have gone to great care to leave the sex of the baby unknown here. We do know the baby’s sex, but we have decided to keep it a secret. At least for the moment. And next time, if there is a next time, Rachel and I have already decided that even we don’t want to know! Rachel’s mom asked if we were Amish when we told her this, which is understandable. But I think we agree wholeheartedly: surprises are fun, and the gender matters a whole lot less than everybody being happy and healthy. So, we’re focused on first things first. And don’t worry, once (s)he’s out and about, then you’ll know what sex (s)he is.
So that’s the news. We’ve been enjoying Brussels for its waffles, frites, and beer, and tomorrow we’ll take a train to Bruges, followed by Gent. We’re going to enjoy the rest of our time in Europe as best as we can, just the two of us, by traveling as often as possible to try great food, see beautiful architecture, and experience different cultures. Because soon, our life will change quite a bit.