The bump list: Before the baby arrives
The male partner's role during pregnancy is a strange one. Whatever you say or do, a new human being is not growing inside you and you won't have to push it out. But you're still involved. There are heavy boxes to be lifted, names to be vetoed and a baby room to be painted.
In what might be a male version of the nesting impulse, I've started expanding our vege garden and planting fruit trees: whatever happens, I want to know that my nuclear family will have feijoas and runner beans when the apocalypse comes.
I've also completed my novel (publication date: some time next year) and am going back to fulltime work like a normal grown-up. But I'm not quite ready for a briefcase and a credenza stocked with single malts.
That's where my Bump List comes in.
It's not a Bucket List (things to do before you die) or a Honey Do List (things to do because your spouse has asked you nicely) but a list of things I want to do before the bump becomes a baby.
Things like: attend one more concert, watch seasons one and two of Game of Thrones back to back with a group of friends, play a round of golf, have a romantic dinner at the White House, and rent a karaoke booth at Taste of Korea and play tambourine till my palm bruises.
Some of these are activities we can do as a couple, but Marisa's Bump List is actually things to eat after the baby arrives: runny eggs, camembert, shellfish...
The American journalist Mignon McLaughlin once wrote: "Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children."
For blokes, a Bump List acknowledges both one's lingering adolescence and the impending responsibility of fatherhood. It's important, therefore, not to muddle the Bump List with the various appointments to be kept, classes to attend and everything you need to borrow or buy in preparation for the baby's arrival. That stuff's important, but it's not fun (at least not for me).
It's a juggling act, though. In trying to squeeze in these last few frivolous activities, one must not miss the glory that is pregnancy. Watching that bump grow is not only a reminder of how little time I have left to spend drinking in the sun outside St John's, it's an amazing thing in itself. Not only have I felt the wee beggar kick, I've seen it (to my surprise, it reminded me less of the dream sequence in Aliens, where something is about to burst through Ripley's belly, and more of the ripples in the glass of water in Jurassic Park).
Lest the bump should ever read this in the distant future: yes, I just compared you to a T-Rex. Sorry. I'm looking forward to your arrival, but with so much beyond my ken right now, sometimes it does feel a little ominous.
Maybe I should be enjoying as many sleep-ins as I can over the next three months. But in the words of the great Warren Zevon, I'll sleep when I'm dead. Someone hand me that tambourine!
Craig Cliff is a writer with a healthy understanding of what's about to hit him. He writes a fortnightly column.
The Dominion Post