Mechanical

The Baby Journey

So I'm not only married, I'm also a father-to-be. While I've always wanted to be a father, the full impact of the situation never quite hit me.

Until now.

Leïla and I, naturally, read our "Baby Bible" and try to understand exactly what excuse she has this week for being miserable. Of course, this makes me miserable too because a pregnancy just wouldn't be complete without without the woman making the man experience a similar agony.

One thing we noticed is that our book likes to refer to the baby's size in terms of edible things. We first noticed this when it said "this week, your baby is the size of a pea". Naturally, Leïla started referring to "le petit pois" (the little pea) inside of her. Unfortunately for English-speaking folks, she said she had "a little baby pea". That's bad. Really bad.

If you live in the UK, you might have gasped in shock or laughed yourself silly at that. You see, a very recent, and terribly tragic news story which has gripped the nation over here is the case of little Baby P, a beautiful little boy who was effectively tortured and subsequently murdered. Leïla saying she has "a little baby pea" in the oven in like the newlywed Mrs. Goldstein saying she has a little Jew in the oven. It's just two hundred and seventy-three levels of wrong.

Fortunately, the following week had the baby bible telling us that we had a baby the size of a bean. Unfortunately, it didn't tell us which bean. Leïla was trying to show me that beans really were larger than peas, but she had trouble finding a suitable bean, presumably because she had a handful of wasabi peas. I ate them.

We're at the point where the baby is the size of a cherry, so Leïla now refers to it as "la petite cerise" (the little cherry), but I can't help but call it "la patisserie" (the pastry), which sounds pretty much the same. Leïla's not happy about this and has announced that I'm not allowed to use this term around the child because it might get a complex if it's fat. I've explained that this is OK because our child won't know how to speak French. Leïla didn't laugh. I think I'm in trouble.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I, like my wife, am getting somewhat obsessed over the idea of pregnancy. It's like when you buy a Dodge Omni, a car you've never heard of, and discover the road is full of them (it really is). I can't walk more than 30 seconds without seeing another swollen belly. They're everywhere! Women walking all around with little peas, jews, and cherries in their ovens, ready to pop. It's getting to the point where I'm talking to women and they say "hey, asshole, my tits are up here!"

OK, maybe it's not that bad, but close.
Tags:
Beware what you call the baby! In the first ultrasound, my son nestled in my uterus looked like a frog sitting on a lily pad. We began calling him "Froggy" almost immediately. It caught on for a while. There were gifts of stuffed frogs. Many of James' baby clothes had frogs on them. His bedding? Frogs! It was cute. Luckily for us, at the point where it probably wouldn't have been cute any more, people just stopped using the nickname and James became James, but you never know which cutesy nickname will stick, so be careful!

(((HUGS)))
Huge congratulations!

As someone with a new baby (well, she's 5 months today, does that still count as "new"? Sure as hell still feels it!) I can vividly remember those days of pregnancy, so I laughed out loud at your entry. Welcome to a whole new world, nothing will be the same again (but in a mostly good way.) Once you've had the baby, you might be as obsessed over babies as you currently are over pregnancy. I seem to have baby radar now - they are everywhere, I talk and write about them most of the day, I even seem to unconsciously seek out books, podcasts, tv about them. It's bad.
French language lessons
(Anonymous)
Curtis you crack me up :-) You really have to learn French, or you will be in big trouble with Leila :-) I used to work with her, she is a lovely lady :-) I wish you guys all the best :-)
Katja x
Note the accent over the "i": ï. It's actually pronounced with a diphthong: Lay-ee-la, but most say "Lay-la" and that's just fine.
you NEED to talk about languages.

tying to teach the child more than one language before the child is at least 6years old is asking for trouble.
Before they're 4 they don't even have a clearly defined sense of 'I', even. And mixing languages...

Trust me on this.
(My brother is married to a woman from Thailand, and their children are both well-adjusted and speak good Norwegian. The daughter is beginning to learn Thai, now, but she is old enough to begin in school)

One of my brother's friends is married to a woman from Poland, and they haven't been careful about teaching their kid a single language, and he may be held back a year before starting school... The poor kid can hardly communicate with kids his own age. (The language problem has also left him rather shy, supposedly a common problem in this situation)
Yes we are going to raise a bilingual little one
Hi, I am Leila, Curtis's wife.

While I appreciated your concern; I have to say that I do not share it.
Of course raising a bilingual child is going to be challenging. I will grant you that but you have also to take into considerations the following things:

• First being bilingual for us is not a choice, but a necessity.
If we want our little one to be able to interact with my family or with Curtis’s family, he will just not have the choice. She will have to be bilingual.

• Second, our house is bilingual. Every day I spend some time on the phone with my family and friends from France and I speak French with them. Therefore, for instance, it will become, for him, natural to speak French when exchanging with his French Grand Ma or English when exchanging with his American Opa because it‘s what’s mommy and Daddy are doing too.

• Third, I expect my child to mix up both languages. I do it too and for various reasons. Some time because I do not realise it, some time because I am speaking with someone who is bilingual too and depending on the topic I feel more comfortable in one or the other language, and yes in the middle of a sentence I will swap...

• Forth, while I can say that I am fluent in English, English is not my native tongue – as you can probably appreciated regarding the numerous mistakes I made while writing this answer. Therefore for me, there are plenty of things that I still want to express in French and not in English. It is how they sound right to me – for example saying I love you in English and saying je t’aime in French does not convey the same feeling for me...

Therefore, for all this reasons we are going to raise a bilingual little monster.

And if this topic is important to you, please feel free to read the following articles:

http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/earlychild.html
http://www.raising-bilingual-children.com/basics/


Re: Yes we are going to raise a bilingual little one
Hi there, Leila! Congratulations on the little one and your wedding was beautiful! I'm, obviously, a friend of Curtis. :-)

I teach Sunday School in a biligual church. I speak English and my co-teacher speaks Spanish. Several of the children (all under 5, most under 4) speak both languages and have no problem talking to Maria in Spanish and me in English. Sometimes, I'll say, "Maria is busy. What can I help you with?" and they'll repeat what they asked for in English---I don't even prompt with "Speak to me in English." One little girl, age 4, speaks and understands 3 languages!
Re: Yes we are going to raise a bilingual little one
I'm with you Leila! It has been repeatedly proven that the more neural pathways we open as humans, the better we are able to use our brains and bilingual people have pathways opened that monolingual people never develop. It is ALWAYS better to have more ways to communicate with other humans!
Re: Yes we are going to raise a bilingual little one
P.S. My extremely smart daughter went to a Japanese immersion school starting in the 1st grade and it was nothing but great for her!
I agree with Leila. As a linguist and a data analyst, I think you're extrapolating from a small sample size over the population of children.

I was exposed to many languages as a child: I started to have issues in a monolinguistic setting. It isn't confusing to be exposed to multiple languages; in fact plenty of data exists out there that says the opposite: that flexibility you have grammatically and phonetically allows you to learn language more richly and (importantly in a social context) without an accent.

The neat thing will be: will the child have a British or American accent?! (I'll vote for British.)

There's a difference between teaching a child a language and immersion learning of a language. First- and second language acquisition methodologies, psychologically, are very different animals (right brain versus left brain). Plus, you're dealing with Curtis and Leila's child: that one will be smart as hell!
Congrats! I'm surprised and happy for you! I bet fatherhood will suit you quite nicely.

And to provide a counter-example to anthony_lion, I know a lovely 4-year-old boy who speaks primarily (but not exclusively) Spanish at home, and both his English and Spanish are very understandable. He has a large number of friends his own age, and I can't imagine that the experience of being bilingual will be anything but beneficial for him. That said, every kid is different.

And your kid will be awesome!
We noticed that fetus size is compared to food when my daughter was pregnant and she still calls him "bean." We did continue the comparison all through his first year, until when he became the size of a watermelon, there's not much food larger than that.
This is one of my favorite-est entries from you *ever*. :-)

Congratulations. I hope to hear more about this adventure!
This is one of the most endearing posts I've ever read about babies. I'm also glad that you are also referring to it as a meal, because the pædovore in me has always done so.

Leave it to French, my linguistic nemesis from a spelling perspective, to have 'la petit(e?) cerise' and 'la patisserie' to sound alike. It blows me away A) How their spelling convention is even more fucked up than English's and B) how I could even work that out in my head to understand that they are phonetically similar. It is a wonder to me. I think I need to take French now, just for the fun, challenging nature of it.

Goth knows, I'm sure not going to be having any children...

I look forward to your not-cutesy baby posts and thank you for maintaining the food references and the clarity of observations.