We named our fetus Ndugu. I woke up one morning very early on in my pregnancy and Tobyjoe said he had come up with the perfect name if we were to have a boy. “Ndugu.” He said. And we both laughed. That’s how our fetal nickname was coined.
About a month and a half ago, Ndugu started beating the hell out of me. Ndugu would kick me, headbutt me, or just sucker punch the inside of my belly. Our fetus is one active little creature. Ndugu is. Back then you couldn’t feel the punches from the outside, but there was no mistaking that I had something growing inside of me. Women told me about the sensation, warned me about it, told me how awesome it would be. But I never really understood until it became personal. It’s impossible to imagine and even harder to explain. I would try and explain it to Tobyjoe and he would listen. But it was like trying to explain a shiver, a sneeze, or a goosebump to someone who lacks all sensation.
One night I insisted that Tobyjoe sit quietly with his hand resting on my belly. “Just be patient!” I told him. “He’ll move and you will feel it.” Five minutes went by, the both of us all the while trying hard not to breath, and then something happened. Tobyjoe looked over at me from his pillow, eyes huge, as if he’d just seen something unreal out of the corner of his eye.
“Did you feel that?” I asked him. “Ndugu just punched you!”
“Yes!” He answered. “Holy shit!” He had read Ndugu Code via my tummy.
This became more and more noticeable as the days wore on. After we found out that Ndugu was a boy, the sensation became even more spectacular.
Now we watch him every night. We’ll be on the couch or in bed reading. My belly will dance. It looks as if super sized kernels of popcorn are exploding inside of me; I’m like a human Jiffy Pop. I’ll pull my shirt up above my belly and we’ll watch the firework display, the work of a performance artist. Tobyjoe will put his lips to my tummy and say things like, “What’re you doing in there? You’re beating up your mama!” And I’ll push him away after a few sentences because his stubble irritates my belly. “Talk through my shirt!” I’ll giggle.
Now the baby moves all day long, reminding me of his whereabouts, the fact that he exists. And every day I realize that I’m never alone even when there are no voices.
Ndugu doesn’t come around much anymore. Words like “Son” and “The Baby” have become regular mutterings throughout our household. Tobyjoe will ask me, “How’s my boy doing?” And I’ll tell him the last time his boy said hello to me and then complain about what his boy’s doing to my bladder.
I guess what I’m trying to say is – what I’m starting to realize – is that the fetus formally known as Ndugu is becoming Our Son.