Baby's Remorse

This is from my "Back Talk" column in November's issue of Houston Family Magazine. Want to how I deal with the can-we-have-a-baby question?

Baby's Remorse

My wife and five children have been pestering me about getting a puppy. They’ve been at it for quite a while too, but to no affect. Their nagging has become an almost daily occurrence thanks to the innumerable prompts that pop up. Every time Disney releases another superhero/master spy/incredible journey-type move starring talking dogs, or the neighbor’s lab saunters up our driveway to sniff my crotch, it’s a sure bet that I’m going to be hammered with an incessant barrage of, “Can we get a puppy? Can we get a puppy? Can we get a puppy?”

Under other circumstances this would qualify as annoying, yet, despite avoiding references to hot dogs, feeling dog-tired and being in the dog house, I’m unfazed by their badgering. You might be asking yourself how that’s possible. Simple. I am the culprit responsible for suggesting the puppy—a tactic meant as a diversion to keep them from asking for what they really want: a baby.

To be fair, I should point out that my three boys never in fact voiced their desire for a new sibling. They’re purely in it for the puppy. It’s my wife and two stepdaughters who are the staunch proponents of inviting the stork over for a visit. That the whole puppy thing has rallied our blended family behind a cause is an unexpectedly fortuitous byproduct of my scheme.

What’s truly beautiful about my plan is that three of the kids are allergic to dogs virtually guaranteeing that big bags of puppy chow won’t be propped up in the corner of our garage. I would’ve thought that someone, my wife in particular, would’ve caught on this Catch-22 by now. Nope. Even I’m surprised to discover that the enthusiastic affection of a cocker spaniel and the adorable daintiness of a Teacup Yorkie can trump the powdery smell of a three month-old infant. 

Ah, that new baby smell—like new-car smell but for women. This is the precise issue that kicked off the whole “make-a-baby” campaign in the first place after someone asked my wife if she would like to hold their baby, a request I consider to be the mommy version of the infamous pull-my-finger prank. Granted, the aroma may be a more pleasant than what Uncle Jim been holding in for an hour after hitting the taco buffet, but the consequences can still reek an equal amount of havoc.

In mere seconds the scent being emitted from this baby’s smooth, doughy skin wafted up into my wife’s nostrils, triggering that expression of joyful longing all women get anytime they’re within a swaddled newborn’s thirty-five meter, aromatic bursting radius. One whiff and boom! They’re gone. I have to imagine this is why Glade hasn’t introduced a new-baby fragrance for their Plug-In air fresheners or, heaven forbid, the same thing in an aerosol form. Rehab clinics nationwide would be overwhelmed with an influx of loopy women caught wandering in a euphoric stupor through Babys “R” Us stores after having sprayed the stuff into a paper bag. 

Seriously though, I realize there’s a bit of science involved here. If memory serves me correctly, I believe the Germans—a country known for its long history of cuddliness—published a study claiming that a baby’s smell (dirty diapers excluded) can awaken a woman’s nurturing instinct: therefore, explaining the correlation between olfactory stimulation and the desire for a baby. Strange as this may sound, I can relate. I feel the same way pulling a tray of blueberry muffins from the oven—I smell them, and I want one. The only major difference, however, is you can eat a muffin and walk away; a baby lasts forever. Fore. Ev. Er. 

Thus, when my wife glanced over at me with wistful eyes, I cut her off by rolling mine. Oh, boy, heeeeere we go. 

“Hey, honey, couldn’t we—“

“No.” Emphatic as my answer was, I knew, like a New Orleans levy, it wouldn’t hold her back.



“Come on, it would have our best features—my brains and your—“

“Not happening.” I could say this with the confidence afforded me by one tiny detail. “Besides, dear, aren’t we forgetting something? Like maybe ‘The Procedure?’” 

“Oh, that,” she replied looking away.

I attributed her short-term memory loss up to the mystic powers being wielded by the baby tucked neatly her arms. Still, a vasectomy isn’t exactly the sort of thing you can wave off, especially in light of the biological impediments that go along with it. What’s more, baby or no baby, if there’s anything my wife should remember, it should be my vasectomy, an event she couldn’t keep to herself after getting loaded at her office Christmas party

“Seeee thizz righ’ here?” she said, directing the attention of a company’s VP towards my lower regions by swirling her open hand in a wax-on, wax-off motion Mr. Myagi would’ve been proud of. “Yeah. We’re gettin’ that righ’ there aaaaaall taken …taken care of tomorr—Hey! Who’s thirsty?” I’ll forgo the ensuing aftermath, but needless to say, it was epic, epic enough that a full frontal lobotomy couldn’t erase it from memory.

After bringing up the vasectomy, I recognized a slight hint of disappointment seeping through the weak grin on my wife’s face. The irony in all of this, of course, is that she’s the one who set up my urology consultation free of any prompting from me. Now, however, with the transaction long since finalized, she seemed to be hit with a sudden “baby’s remorse” after test driving this newer model.

Then my stepdaughters showed up inciting their mother’s storied mischievousness.

“Hey, girls,” she said in a leading tone. “How’d you like to have a little baby brother or sister?”

“Really? That would be awesome!” they both squealed while jumping up and down.

“How ‘bout a puppy instead?” I said.

There was a short pause as the girl’s eyes grew to the size of a jar lid for strained carrots. 

“A PUPPY!? We want a puppy!”

My wife handed off the baby to its mother. “I want a puppy too!”

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