Time to get a tad personal for a bit. My wife and I are having a baby. This is partially expected, but also kind of wasn’t. We’d just about given up on any possibility of it actually happening to us, but it seems that the stars aligned right about the time of our thirteenth wedding anniversary.
I remember very clearly as my wife and I were driving back from a trip to see my parents. We were talking about our lack of kids, as the subject usually came up anytime that we visited them. They very badly wanted for us to have children, and were very annoyed that we haven’t, even after thirteen years of marriage and even longer being together. This trip was no different than any other. My mom cornered me, and then my wife as well.
I wasn’t going to push the issue. Whatever was going to happen to us, was going to happen. And so, on that trip back home, she and I had a conversation. We talked about our lives so far, what we’ve accomplished so far, what we wanted to accomplish, and what a child would do for us in the grand scheme of things. I told her that I was very content with what we were, and who we were. I said the words, “I give up.” My wife looked at me and said, “It’s okay.”
Two weeks later I was on my way home from work when I received a call. “Honey, I think we need to go get a pregnancy test, I feel a bit strange and I’m quite late.” A short, humorous conversation later I was at the drugstore with a two pack test in my hand. She worried that it would be weird for me to be buying a test by myself, which was really silly. As I waiting in queue to make my purchase I thought about how many of these tests ended up in the trash with the lack of the right lines, or the digital words “Not Pregnant.” I was expecting to waste another fifteen dollars, yet there must have been some hope since I grabbed a two-pack.
I got home, and sat down with her and did the deed. Neither of us thought this result would be any different. The test was started, the hourglass on the digital display appeared to let us know it was working, and we sat it down on the paper plate, like we had done a good dozen or so times before. We talked. The usual small talk, and the usual talk of dinner. These tests should take up to three minutes to work, but I’m always nervous about them, so I keep looking because I just don’t know any better. This is known as an exercise in futility at this point, nonetheless I look at the stick.
It says, “Pregnant.” I picked it up, and checked the for the word “Not,” but couldn’t find it anywhere. I smiled, looked at my wife and hugged her. My nerves turned up to eleven, and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself for a moment as I tried to fathom what had just happened.
She called the next day for an appointment with the doctor and I waited three days for her to go and verify the news. With how late she was, this was likely it, but we had been wrong before. She called, “I heard the heartbeat,” she said. I’m pretty sure the color drained from my face as a tear welled up in my left eye, and my came to my mouth to cover it. “I’m about six weeks.”
Wow, ok, what now, holy crap, this is it. My mind raced. And here’s where some background is needed. I’m terrified of children. I said it. I can’t explain exactly why, but most of my fears come from this. A child crying is like someone pointing an air horn in my ear and letting it rip. It’s frightening. I don’t have a lot of experience. What little I do have comes from my little sister. I never really did much to take care of her, and when I did, I fear that I might have broken her. I don’t hate kids, I just fear them. Let’s be clear, up until the point where I understood that a heart was beating within my wife’s belly, I feared them.
It seems that a switch was flipped in me. I immediately went into “dad” mode. I was going to be a father, and that was that. Crying still sets me on edge, but now it’s more of a concern than wanting to flee. So, it comes down to the fact that I will now be responsible for this little blob with a heartbeat.
The news is good, but it comes with an asterisk. I’ve not made it a secret. I’m old, well older. My wife is just as old, and when you get pregnant, you automatically get categorized as high risk. She tells me the rules, we’re meticulously careful. But besides that, we decide to tell the family. We don’t video chat much, but in this case we do. The look on my parents’ faces was priceless. News they had waited more years than they could count had finally reached them. My wife became the “most important person in the family,” in the words of my father.
Fast forward a bit, I won’t bore you with the trials of pregnancy, there’s many a book for that. Wife is tired, I take care of her. I start planning the nursery. What color should we paint. I start looking around the house for last minute projects that should get done before arrival. Litterbox duty is all mine now. It’s pretty nuts from where I was a few weeks earlier
More tests are ordered, doctors’ visits go great. The day of a big test to check for genetic anomalies comes. I go to the appointment, not really knowing what to expect. Remember, I’d never done this before. We go into a dark room, and a young lady squirts some goo on my wife’s lower abdomen and the screen lights up as they look for the little lime-sized child. Waves go by on the screen, and then there it is. Reality sets in and tears come.
I don’t know what happened, but seeing the little tiny being was amazing. They measure a bunch of things to check for the possibility of issues. In the mean time they show us the heart. It’s nothing more than a little tiny mass of pixels, but it jumps in a rhythm that’s obvious. My wife heard it, and I now see it. It’s very real now. Arms, legs, a head, blood flowing through; everything looks great. The young lady leaves, gives us a printout and says congratulations. The doctor returns a bit later and gives us good news that we have nothing to worry about that the moment; the measurements all came back normal.
There’s a lot of testing that comes along with pregnancy. Poking and prodding is routine at the moment. One of these tests checks the DNA of the baby through the mom’s bloodwork. Things look good, and with high certainty, there was no Y chromosome found. Which means that, in all likelihood, there will be a little girl in the room I have yet to build for her.
Things become more routine, but we near another major ultrasound where they check anatomy. I will again be attending, and I will likely cry again, but I feel like there will be a lot of those moments to come.
This story is really nothing new for most parents. I don’t know why I wanted to share it. I do think, for the people that know me well, this might be interesting knowing how I used to be, and how quickly I turned around.
I went to the hardware store to pick up a new outlet for the kitchen, when I saw a gentleman walking with his little girl. He was carrying a pipe snake and his daughter was carrying a doll. She said, “Can I carry the tool, daddy?” And I about damn near lost it. It was just adorable, and I began to think: What will my little girl be like? What color will her hair be? What will her favorite color be? Will she like dolls? Will she like tools? Will she want to play a sport? Multitudes of questions, all of which will be answered in due time. I don’t know any of these answers, but there is one thing I know for certain.
I can’t wait to meet her.