“Mr. Danevbie…? Mr. Danevbie…”
I slowly opened my eyes, realizing I was on the floor. I blinked several times and peered above me, seeing Jay’s face come into focus. I sat up, rubbing the back of my head. “What happened?” I asked, slowly getting to my feet.
“I told you that you were pregnant for certain and you fainted,” Jay said, not looking amused. “If you are prone to fainting then perhaps you should stay here for the duration of your pregnancy.”
“Nono!” I said quickly. “I rarely faint.” I rubbed my back and then the words she said sank in. “I am for sure pregnant?”
“Yes, Mr. Danevbie, you are,” Jay answered.
She continued talking, telling me when I needed to come in for my examinations and that I should expect all the usual pregnancy symptoms. I barely heard her. All I could think of was the fact I was pregnant.
Never thought I’d be told that, I thought, rubbing my stomach. I wondered vaguely what my father would say if he knew. The thought made me start laughing.
“Is something funny?” Jay inquired. It was surprising to see her look a bit confused.
“Everything is fine,” I assured her. “Thank you.”
“I want you to come back here in one week…”
She started talking again and it took all my effort not to just tune her out.
Over the next few days, it was hard to imagine my life being so… so normal! I worked, I ate, I watched TV, I talked to my friends–all while a baby grew inside of me. I found myself putting my hand against my belly often, marveling at this big change.
I didn’t sleep any better, though. I was awake constantly with worry and sometimes I would just wake up from a bad dream. I did my best to get plenty of sleep, though. I wanted everything in my pregnancy to go perfect, to lessen the risk of… anything that might go wrong. Like me dying.
I bought several pregnancy books and read them. Jay had said my pregnancy would act like a regular pregnancy. Just because I was male didn’t mean much anything would be different. My hormones would be wild, I would suffer the physical ailments, and probably have morning sickness and food cravings.
When I went back in after the week was up, Kay was in the room as well. He helped his sister examine me and even gave me a small smile when he saw the big grin on my face.
“E-excited?” he asked.
“Actually, yes,” I admitted. “Very much so. But I’m also kinda scared…”
“Everything w-will be fine,” he said.
I knew things would be fine but I really couldn’t help but worry about all the things that could go wrong. Three men had died already undergoing this experiment. The last one was fine, but was that just a fluke? Was this a fatal decision I had made?
Sometimes when I went to bed or woke up, I would stare at the award from school. Most likely to have a big family, I thought one morning as I rubbed my stomach. This might be my only kid… but maybe I’ll have a lot of grandkids.
That day I thought about what I could tell everyone. As I changed diapers and filled bottles, I started several imaginary conversation in my mind. Elouia, guess what? I’m pregnant! Or maybe, Hey Aiden, remember Lab C? Well they impregnated me! Or should I say something like, AYESHA I WAS KIDNAPPED BY ALIENS AND NOW I THINK I’M GONNA HAVE A BABY!
I shook my head, dismissing that last one. I had to tell the truth. But not yet. I would wait until I was showing.
It feels so weird…
My stomach has never been this bad before. Is this horrible nausea really morning sickness?
Ugh… how am I gonna survive this?
After another week passed and I was given another checkup, I decided it was time I start working hard on being a better parent. Which meant one big change in everything.
A new stove. Which meant a counter to prepare things on, and a smoke detector. I wasn’t that stupid, I knew I knew next to nothing about cooking. I had been living my life on cereal, toast, and soup. When I wanted real food I’d go out to a diner or something. I hadn’t cooked anything properly in years. But honestly, how hard could it be?
It wasn’t as if I knew completely nothing. I knew a few basics and figured waffles would be easy to make. I just added all the ingredients together, mix it up, pop it in the oven, and then pull them out once they got all golden or something. Right?
Making waffles was easier than I thought. I was feeling confident about them. They may not taste the best, but they’d be pretty decent. And I would buy some cookbooks from the store and learn more. I could just imagine myself making waffles every Saturday morning, my little child sitting at our table with a big smile on his or her face.
I was caught up in that little fantasy and actually perhaps a little too caught up in it because a loud beeping sound pulled me back to reality.
HOW THE HECK DID MY STOVE CATCH ON FIRE?! I ran around my house, panicking. The fire alarm was supposed to alert the authorities right away but I couldn’t help but run around in blind fear. My house is going to burn down! I wailed in my head.
It felt like it was taking the firefighters forever to get there. The smoke wafted around in my tiny house and I felt overcome by dizziness and fear.
Stay alert, I tried telling myself as my body collapsed but it was too late and the darkness consumed me.
I opened my eyes and the first thought was that this was a familiar feeling. I fainted, I realized. Because of the fire.
I shot up into a sitting position, staring wide-eyed around me. There was a fighter standing near my ruined stove and counter. And picture, I realized sadly.
“Are you okay?” the firefighter asked.
“Y-yeah, thank you so much!” He helped me to my feet and I stared dizzily at my ruined furniture. After the firefighter left I trudged over, still smelling the scent of burnt wood and ash. It made me feel sick to my stomach and I ran into the bathroom, vomiting into the toilet more than once.
I could have been killed, I thought as I returned to the ruined furniture.
How could I have been so thick? I shouldn’t have used the stove, not until I knew how to cook properly. I shouldn’t have gone off into a fantasy. I shouldn’t have fainted!! I promised I wouldn’t. I put my hands against my belly. Jay had told me if I fainted a lot I should stay at Lab C. I didn’t want to but maybe it would be for the best…
“No!” I said out loud. I wouldn’t faint again. I would become stronger, I had to be stronger. I was gonna have a baby. I would be very strong. And brave. No more freaking out over every little thing, no more being so scared. I’d be brave. At least, I would try to be brave.
As my pregnancy continued I decided that the worst part was not having to check up in the lab all the time, but throwing up every single morning. I expressed concern to Jay who informed me it was quite common. I was told that my body would react intensely to all the usual predicaments pregnant women were in. My body wasn’t built for this, so I would be a little bit more susceptible to the symptoms.
During the sixth week I decided to go ahead and get bigger clothes. I purchased some loose shirts and sweatpants. In my eighth week, I started wearing them more often. Two months in and I already started feeling bigger. I weighed myself several times every day (and at my checkups the Reddings weighed me and kept track of everything) and it didn’t seem like much, but it felt like a lot.
I eventually bought another stove and started making a lot of mac and cheese. I had cravings for it and it felt weird to wake up in the middle of the night needing that cheesy goodness. I was thankful I could use the stove top better than I could the oven.
Not bad, if I do say so myself!
As my third month came and went, I realized that it was getting close to when I should tell people. I felt as though I was showing already even though I knew I wasn’t. I was so nervous about how everyone would take it. Elouia, Aiden, Ayesha… what would they think? How could I possibly explain to them what I had agreed to?
I’ll have to take maternity leave, I thought one day while taking care of the toddlers. Erm, paternity leave?
Still, I decided to put off telling people for just a little while longer.
I still couldn’t believe there was a baby in there. My baby. I had a baby growing inside me. I knew many pregnant women felt amazed at the marvel of it all but I knew none of them could ever feel the same way I did. Their bodies were made for childbearing. Mine wasn’t.
“Hello baby,” I whispered one evening. “My name is Jacob. I’m your daddy. Um, mommy? No… daddy. I’m your daddy. I love you so much and can’t wait to meet you. I’ve waited a long time for you.”
I spent a lot of my free time fishing. It gave me something to do besides just sitting around watching TV. I didn’t want to not do anything. So every evening I would walk to the park and fish for a bit before heading home. I needed to stay active.
My body ached a lot. According to the pregnancy books it was unusual to be this achy, but according to Jay it was probably normal since my body was not used to this strange activity. I figured that she was right and tried not to worry too much.
When I entered my fourth month, I knew I needed to tell someone. Elouia could tell something was up with me but I wasn’t ready to tell her. I decided to invite Aiden over. He would be the easiest to tell, I figured, due to the fact he worked at the lab.
When Aiden arrived I felt really sick and really scared. How would he take this?
I knew if I wasted any time, I would chicken out so as soon as he arrived I told him that I had big news. I explained to him that I had been in constant contact with Lab C. I knew I couldn’t tell him everything, since I had signed something promising I wouldn’t blab to people what they were really studying but the Reddings had agreed that I could tell my friends that it involved male pregnancy.
“You’ve been in Lab C?” Aiden asked, rather excitedly. “Tell me about it! What was it like? What are the scientists there like? Oh I bet they’re all super intelligent and studying something really, really big!”
I tried not to giggle. It was so hard not to tell them they were chasing after aliens. “Well, the head scientist is really arrogant,” I said, not able to help myself. “And the other one I met has a bad stutter but he’s not half bad.”
“So what are they studying? Can you tell me?”
“I can’t tell you everything,” I admitted. “But there is something really important I have to tell you. Because, um, I’ve agreed to be part of their experiment.”
Aiden stared at me in disbelief. “No way. You? What? Why?”
I cringed slightly. “Uhhh that’s the thing. It turns out they’re studying something I’m very interested in. It really surprised me but, um, the thing is… they’re studying male pregnancy.”
Aiden just blinked at me. I could tell he didn’t believe me. “See,” I continued, “they asked if I could volunteer and I agreed. So I’m kinda pregnant.” I wasn’t showing very much but I lifted my shirt a little bit to show him. He narrowed his eyes and shook his head.
“No!” I exclaimed. “I’m not joking. I’m honestly pregnant. Look into my eyes. Would I lie about something like this? Come on, Aiden, you know me. Would I lie?”
He did believe me, I could tell. He looked completely shocked. He couldn’t talk for several minutes and I lowered my shirt, waiting for him to say something.
“Pregnant,” I whispered. “Please don’t tell anyone. I’m telling you now because I trust you. You’re the first person I’ve told. Please keep it a secret!”
“You’re a guy.”
I looked down, pressing my hands against my belly. “Yes,” I said. “And I am pregnant. And honestly, I am happy and excited. You know how much I want a kid and if I have to get one by being some sort of weird experiment for freaky lunatics hiding from public view then so be it!”
“You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?” he demanded.
“Yes!” I said, stomping one foot. “I know it sounds crazy but it is true. I swear. I am a pregnant guy!”
Aiden looked away from me, rubbing his temples. He squinted out my window but then finally he sighed and turned back to me.
“It’s kinda creepy but if you’re happy, then cool,” he said. “You’re my friend. It’s… insane and I have no idea how this works but that’s great. Really.”
“Really?” I asked, widening my eyes. “You’re not just saying it.”
“Uuuhhh,” he moaned. “It is creepy, very creepy. But I’ll support your, um, decision. As weird as it is.”
I was couldn’t wipe the big grin off my face after he said that.
“Hercules, there’s a baby in there! Can you believe it?”
Hercules just stared at me and I cheerfully fed him, deciding he was happy for me.
I felt huge, even though I knew I would just be getting bigger.
The aches and pains got worse. My back constantly hurt and it was getting difficult to sleep. I was halfway through my fifth month. I hoped that this didn’t mean I would have to stay at Lab C for a while. I wanted to spend as much time as possible at home. Besides, I hadn’t even gotten a crib ready and if I spent the last three months at Lab C then how was I supposed to set everything up?
A strange pain in my stomach jolted me. I was terrified. Was the baby okay? I took a few steps towards the bathroom, pressing a hand against my belly. What if the baby was hurt? What if I lost the baby? Maybe I should just go to Lab C. Better to stay there and not risk being at home when something bad happened and that feeling really was weird and…
It happened again, I thought, looking down at my stomach. I put both my hands against the growing bump, realizing with pure joy what it was.
The baby had moved!