Two months to go, and we can feel the momentum building. Only eight more weekends for us to remember to pick up that promised crib. Only about five dozen evenings for me to practice keeping my thumb out of the middle of the lens. Some guy on the bus gave Jane his seat the other day "because you look like you need it." This is getting serious.
But one part of preparing for a first baby hasn't infected us yet: guessing the sex.
We don't know. We don't care. Ask us what we want or expect, as so many have, and either of us will offer a well-rehearsed reply: "Just so long as it's healthy . . . . "
I have to confess that one part of me wants a girl. I never had sisters. I have never been asked for a cookie by a 5-year-old who's so cute you want to give her the whole package. It would be an adventure and a treat.
But the real reason I'm "hoping female" is The Scene. Over and over, I rehearse it in my mind, to be pulled out of the videotape files 16 years from now . . . .
It is a Saturday night. The doorbell rings. A teen-aged boy with acne is standing there, nervous as the devil, holding daisies for Emily, who's been setting and resetting her hair for the last seven hours.
And I get to say, in my deepest voice: "Hello, you must be Melvin. Come in. I'm Emily's father."
But an equal part of me is hoping "boy." Help me, Lord: I'm a bore-in-training, and I know it. But I keep seeing all those pop flies I didn't quite reach, all those aircraft carriers I lost interest in building, all the ties I knotted so that the underside "leg" was longer than the overside. Don't I get another chance through Alex?
For what it may be worth, the family authority is voting "boy." Jane's grandmother, Debora Wolff, took a long look last weekend at the bowling ball that used to be Jane's midsection and declared that there was no question.
"If you carry it high, it's a boy," she announced.
"High?" replied her hopelessly logical granddaughter. "Higher than what? Besides, the baby's going to start to drop pretty soon, boy or girl."
"I just know," said Debora.
And maybe she does. As my mother keeps pointing out, anyone who guesses the sex has at least a 50 percent chance of being right.
But the parents aren't spending their time on guesswork. Tonight, it's clean out the changing table we bought. Tomorrow night, it's get my T-shirts out of the old bureau to make room for the baby's diapers. This weekend: a shopping foray for curtains, a rug, a toy or two.
Normally, a good baseball game on television would push all such chores into the "future" file. But the word "normally" will cease to have any meaning in about two months. Boy or girl, Alex or Emily, we're getting ready.