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Lamaze. No, Not a Place in France

After about a year of what the Brits would call a 'jolly good time', my wife broke the news to me. What she said I don't clearly recall. All I remember is hearing words like 'stick..pee..blue..positive'. When I still hadn't grasped it she asked me to change my tax withholding to account for two dependents. All I could say when I first heard that was 'Holy Crap!'. That feeling eventually changed of course. But for the next few weeks I was walking in a daze like someone who had just woken up from a coma after being hit by a bus. I distinctly remember walking over to my colleague's cube at work and telling her 'mar gaya re'. Even to this day, she takes great glee in reminding me of what I said. A word of advice to the men who may be reading this. My reaction when my wife broke the news is not the best of ways to go. What you do instead is grit your teeth, try your best to smile, steady your trembling hands, give your spouse a great big hug and say 'Oh Wow! This is wonderful'. You can do what I actually did later in solitude.
 
Now, for the next few days, I would put on my happy-face when I was around my wife. But deep down I was terrified. This was uncharted territory for me. I seriously did not think I had the mental maturity or fortitude to be a father. Tarzan probably had better parenting with the apes when compared to child rearing skills that I possessed. All this uncertainty wasn't helping. I even signed up for an expedition to search for a missing tribe deep down in the Amazon jungle. But when they heard that I was a father-to-be, they rejected me. They said that fatherhood was much harder and would toughen me up for the next expedition. Everyone in the expedition had been through it and had scars to show. All this expedition fantasy was in my head of course. Back on Earth, I told myself, 'dude, you are pushing thirty. If you don't think you can be father now, you might as well give up for ever. Step up be a Man!'. And so, with a fierce determination, for the next few months, I looked forward to sitting in a waiting room surrounded by women every few weeks, practicing diaper changes on a baby doll, interminalbe shopping trips for baby clothes and baby this and baby that, staring in disbelief at my wife's growing belly, hormonal changes that led to bodily functions that I don't wish to be reminded of and of course listening to congratulations from  my male friends who had expressions of  'ha-ha-ha!' on their faces.
      
And then, there was this whole rigmarole called Lamaze classes. For weeks on end I trudged along with my dear wife to know the basics of how babies work. I was dismayed to learn that hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches were not involved. Instead, I was asked to be 'supportive'. There were other men in the class accompanying their spouses and I could see that they were just as enthusiastic about being there as I was. Together we learned things that we had no business knowing about. About what happens to the mothers body when she is expecting a child. The men would leave the class with glazed eyes. There were many a near-collisions while driving back home when my wife would try to further explain something that she thought I probably didn't get. This was her way of getting some cheap thrills at my expense. The breathing exercises that my wife was supposed to use during the birthing process came in handy for me when such topics were discussed. Even to this day, I tend to use them in high stress situations. You should see my manager at work scratch his pate in puzzlement when I go 'hoo-hoo-hoo....hee-hee-hee' when he asks me about my project status.
     
At the end of eight enlightened months, we were in the home stretch. A few more weeks and we would be clueless parents. As is wont in Indian tradition, the mother of the mother-to-be was flying to Memphis to help us get off to a decent start with the baby. My collection of spirits at home suddenly doubled. Things were going to get interesting. But we were completely unprepared for what happened next....