My husband talks through my belly button, flared like the wide, wrong end of a megaphone. "Kick twice if you can hear me," he says. The baby does not oblige.
For weeks we've known our little one can hear us, can respond to music or sudden noises or the murmurings of conversation. I've tried playing clumsy Jenny Lewis and Bob Dylan, guitar hum-strumming against my belly, singing Johnny Cash or saccharine sweet classics when I'm lying in bed. Nothing. I apologize when I shout at reckless (or not reckless enough) drivers on the expressway, knowing I'm flooding my baby's ears as well as his or her little body with manic mama hormones.
M doesn't ease into it, though he's had the only response resembling success. With one hand he props his cell phone against my stomach, the other pressed to catch a kick as Cake crackles forth. They're followed quickly by Weezer, Beck, The Beatles and The Beastie Boys, shuffled through in a desperate attempt to wake or rock or roll the baby. The first notes seemed to be something of a surprise if the swift pressure I felt was any indication, but there was nothing like a rousing flip of approval and baby hasn't budged for repeat performances.
I'm not surprised that I want to communicate, want to work out some sort of elaborate hand signal or secret song we can share before we've met, properly. Baby is dreaming or doing already and I want in. And my husband, who has only the still (growing) expanse of his wife to contemplate, always hurried in too late for the infrequent and unprompted dance party, has just as much reason to want for a little conversation.
Maybe the baby is just a better listener. Or maybe we aren't speaking the same language yet.