I’m hardly troubled by the idea of passing a kid roughly the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon. Hell, I’ve seen movies about it. I’ve read stuff. People tell me how absolutely terrible (and terribly forgettable) it can be. They say things like, “Well, I survived,” or “I forgot all about the pain just as soon as I saw his precious little face!” The fact that some of these people are on to their second and third children is comforting. It makes me think they’re maybe telling the truth. Or they’re not. Or they’re crazy. It doesn’t even matter, because I buy it.
But I’m deeply troubled – legit terrified! – by my own elastic belly button which, in recent weeks, has begun slowly transforming from a tiny “innie” to a kind of widening orifice destined to pop like so many kernels of Orville Redenbacher.
The fact that the majority of movie producers, reference book writers and expectant mothers aren’t a quarter as omphalophobic further guarantees nobody’s talking about this either. Nobody’s reassuring me it’s going to be ok, because it hasn’t occurred to most people that ballooning belly buttons are scary as hell!
Two weeks ago, I schlepped off to the emergency room for the first time in my entire life, crippled with pain in the lower left back. Kidney stones or uterine compression syndrome, who cares! My ureter was stopped up by something, be it calcium deposits or the weight of a 1lb. fetus. Docs agreed the pain would be indistinguishable, too…hard to think through except to think you want it to go away. Speedily. So you attempt to distract yourself with something you fear might, maybe, be much more terrible. Like, say, your own umbilicus exploding.
Valium? I don’t need no stinkin’ valium? This ain’t so bad. It could be worse. It could be much worse.
Once, I read this article in The New York Times about these scientists down in North Carolina who counted upwards of 1,400 strains of bacteria living in the human navel as part of the “Belly Button Biodiversity Project.” A few hundred of these bacteria were previously undiscovered species, too! Sure the scientists purported that they weren’t harmful – just really, really cool? – but I couldn’t help but conjure the stuff of Outbreak. After all, doesn’t “previously undiscovered” mean these squints had no flippin’ idea what they were looking at and what they were capable of?
So it was that, last night, when the rabbi asked the congregation to reflect upon those among us in need of health and healing I prayed, first, for our kid. May she grow and thrive and be only fractionally as crazy as her mother. And then I prayed for myself. Also, please G-d, keep whatever’s growing in my center-body orifice from sending thousands of flesh-eating bacteria scurrying across my body when, as it will inevitably do, my belly button juts forth from my abdomen like a mood-ring sized mountain of scar tissue. Because it has absolutely. Nowhere. Else. To. Go.
So it was that while I slept, it grew some more and I didn’t feel it or die. I also didn’t stop being scared. In fairness, I never asked the Great and Powerful G-d to cure my pregnancy-induced omphalophobia, I just asked Her to keep my belly button nasties from killing me.